In the two years following 1984’s dry spell, a total of 50 songs from Canadian artists made the weekly Top 30 National RPM Singles Chart. 1985 was the year that changed everything. Fifteen Canadian artists had Top 30 hits through the year. There were 14 Canadian songs in the year-end Top 100, and the biggest song of the year was Canadian. The year saw three Canadian songs top the charts. And it was the year that witnessed the very first Canadian album certified Diamond. Perhaps the highlight was the coming together of all major Canadian artists to record a charity single for African famine relief. Although the whirlwind that created a swelling of Canadian pride eased up a bit in 1986, it was still a strong year for Canadian music. The RPM Top 100 Year-End Album Charts saw 11 from Canadian artists in 1985 and a dozen in 1986.
At the end of October, 1984, Bryan Adams released his album Reckless and its first single “Run to You”. For some reason, it took some time for the song to climb up the charts, finally cracking the Top 10 on January 12th, 1985. From there, everything snowballed. The album which spawned several additional hits became certified Diamond (1 million copies sold in a country of nearly 26 million at the time) on December 17th. But that wasn’t the only big album that year. Corey Hart released Boy in the Box in mid-June. “Never Surrender” topped the charts and became the biggest song of the year. “Everything in My Heart” was a #1 hit as well (in 1986). And the album became the second in history to attain Diamond sales. Canadian pride soared and the Junos the following year drew a huge audience to see “Never Surrender” win Song of the Year and Reckless win Best Album. Adams and Hart had become national treasures and were the musical heroes that captivated the hearts of the nation.
Canadian artists responded to Bob Geldof’s work with uniting British artists to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to help relieve drought-ridden famine in Ethiopia. They came together as Northern Lights and recorded “Tears Are Not Enough”, another number one single in Canada. We’ll do a special feature on the song in a bit.
Bryan Adams and Corey Hart were not the only names in male singers that year. Scottish-born Torontonian (Lawrence) Gowan scored a #5 hit with “Criminal Mind” from his Strange Animal album (which matched the peak chart position on the album charts). Claude Dubois had a big hit with “Un Chanteur Chant“. Gino Vannelli’s “Black Cars” landed in the Top 5 and his “Huts to Be in Love” the Top 20. Composer and producer David Foster worked heavily on the St. Elmo’s Fire film and his instrumental Love Theme was a Top 10 hit. Paul Janz had his first hit, “Go to Pieces” (#29).
Outside of La Belle Province, the women were nowhere to be heard in ’85, aside from more alternative artists like the creative Jane Siberry (“One More Colour”). Luba made some headways but became a bigger name the following year. The most successful female was Martine St. Clair with her mega-hit “Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux”, song of the year winner at the Felix Awards and so irresistible that it was even nominated for a Juno, despite their reputation for snubbing French language music. Nicole Martin’s “Il est en nous l’amour” was nominated for a Felix.
1985 saw the emergence of some huge rock bands, the most notable of which was Platinum Blonde. “Crying over You” was a #1 hit as was their album Alien Shores. Their “Situation Critical” made the Top 10. Vancouver new wave outfit “Strange Advance” scored a minor hit as did Paul Hyde and the Payola$ and newcomers Honeymoon Suite. The latter did better with album sales than hit singles, but nevertheless, scored a Top 10 hit in 1988 with “Love Changes Everything”. Loverboy had a Top 20 hit with “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and one-hit wonders Idle Eyes with “Tokyo Rose”, but the Parachute Club’s “At the Feet of the Moon” was the most successful, coming just shy of the Top 10. Offenbach and Madame had hits in Québec.
Corey Hart was quick to follow up his Diamond album with Fields of Fire in 1986. The first single “I Am by Your Side” peaked at #12 on the RPM charts, while his cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” topped the charts in early ’87. The year, however, belonged to Glass Tiger. Their “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” was a number one hit, the 4th biggest of the year and nabbed the Juno Award for Song of the Year. Their 4x Platinum album The Thin Red Line churned out three more hits, all of which broke into the Top 20. A third release came off of Platinum Blonde’s Alien Shores album which was a good thing because it became their only hit south of the border. The song was “Somebody Somewhere”. Honeymoon Suite released a new album—The Big Prize—which spawned two hits that did equally well. The Parachute Club and M+M scored minor hits with “Love Is Fire” and “Song in my Head” respectively. Loverboy’s song “Heaven in your Eyes”, from the Top Gun soundtrack, did moderately well.
There were some newcomers in 1986. Ottawa duo One to One scored a pair of hits from their Forward Your Emotions album. Springing from Talent Quest, Cats Can Fly’s synth-pop “Flippin’ to the ‘A’ Side” peaked at #16. Another synth ensemble—Chalk Circle—came out with “April Fool” that just squeaked into the Top 100 songs of the year. PEI’s Haywire scored with “Bad Bad Boy” and The Partland Brothers (Chris and G.P.) with “Soul City”. Nuance’s “Vivre dans la nuit” sold 70,000 copies and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Junos. Perhaps the most significant addition to 80s bands was Men Without Hats’ new wave spinoff band The Box (“L’affaire Dumoutier”).
Anne Murray crossed over into pop/rock with a comeback hit – “Now and Forever (You and Me)” and Luba became a household name with “How Many (Rivers to Cross)”. Jano Bergeron’s “Recherche” was nominated for a Felix Award. Having departed the band Corbeau, lead singer Marjo embarked on a very successful solo career and won the Félix Song of the Year with “Chats sauvages”. David Foster teamed up with English-Australian diva Olivia Newton-John in “The Best of Me”.
“Je voudrais voir New York” was a hit for Daniel Lavoie. Patrick Norman had a stellar year thanks to “Quand on est en amour”. Max Webster’s lead singer Kim Mitchell scored a hit as a soloist called “Patio Lanterns”. And Red Rider’s front man began veering away from the group to lead an even more successful solo career; Tom Cochrane scored a minor hit with “Boy Inside the Man”.
Forthcoming will be a list of Canadian hit singles and albums on the RPM charts in 1985-86; an entry with mini-profiles on semi-major acts The Box, Paul Janz, Haywire, Honeymoon Suite, Luba, Kim Mitchell, Patrick Norman, and Platinum Blonde; a special feature on the making of the “Tears Are Not Enough” charity single; and separate feature profiles on major artists David Foster, Glass Tiger, Gowan, and Marjo.