I was playing an amazing compilation from the early 80s today called "Electric North" on cassette. Had it cranked on this Harlequin tune called "I Did It For Love", and me and Peter and Christopher were loving it large. Anyway, as many are want to do when they listen to Canadian rock from the late 70s to mid-80s, we tried to figure out what that magic sound is -- 'cause let's face it, gang, as good as they are, all the Arcade Fires and Dears and Stars can't hold a candle to this shit, for some reason. New Pornographers come close, maybe, and they must be trying real fucking hard. To quote a Harlequin tune, there's a certain "Innocence" lying therein that just makes it pure magic. In some ways, it's the last vestige of colonialism reflected in our popular culture: Canadian rock from the early to mid 80s that is a hybrid of cheesy American arena rock and British new wave. All the disparate regions in Canada came to the same conclusion, and the result was what we like to call "FIERO ROCK". They couldn't completely grasp the nuances of the latest trends in Brit and US pop. So my friend Christopher was listening to the Harlequin tune, and it's got a tell-tale Cars rhythm, with the tight, precise guitar and then it's also got a bit of the new wave British mono-synth sound. But it's done up in a slightly corny way. The end result is clearly, unmistakably Canadian. Unlike the Cars, there isn't any sense of urban-ism, and unlike the early Depeche Mode stuff, these bands did not have the cool style. These bands came from Regina Saskatchewan or Chilliwack BC (there's even a band called Chilliwack). And when you hear this stuff, you can almost smell the gasoline from the zamboni when the guy cleaned the ice of that morning to get ready for the plywood planks that were laid down for the 7pm show at the Memorial Gardens. Tomorrow there's a bonspiel, but tonight, motherfuckers, YOU'RE GONNA ROCK!
There was no place to hit the scene: there wasn't a CBGB's in Medicine Hat,. Last I checked, Moose Jaw's Haight Ashbury was some dude's driveway that that you had to shovel out every Saturday when you finished your paper route. Nobody went to Art school, they went to tech school. AM radio was Agro reports you heard when you were plowing the fields with Pops. All you could wait for was the evening to roll around to hit the fuckin Dairy Smooth next to the bingo hall to show off your El Camino, or your brother's new Charger. Garages were too cold, so they played down in the rumpus room, sucking on a Texas mickey of Canadian Club. They had the posters of The Nuge and Foreigner, but they couldn't mack the styles down in Yorkton. Lots of sweat bands and lumber jackets started to make the inroads - a good decade before grunge!!!
I'm talking about Loverboy, April Wine, Aldo Nova, Strange Advance, Streetheart (possibly the fucking torchbearers of CanRock), and [insert your fave Canadian band here]. Have a look at a band shot of Streetheart and you'll know what we're talking about in terms of style.
Balding guys in their early 30s with spandex pants or way too tight Sergio Valentes they borrowed from their sister. And when you hear their songs, you instantly love them, but only if you were born and raised somewhere in small-town Canada. They do a wicked cover of "Under My Thumb" and they cheese it right the fuck out - with, dare i say, a whole lot of soul. Head nodding and stubby-beer drinking down at the bar. The hot chic with the tight jeans who was two grades ahead of you in high school changing the ash trays. Her boyfriend outside with the hood of his 'Cuda up, showing off the four barrel 454. The guy who could hook you up with a gram or two of gold seal hash.
A world of pool tables, soft ball teams, chicken wings, pictures of Blue, and, yep, a lot of love.
Check out Dave Bidini's On A Cold Road for more info on the magic that is CanRock. And fucking give 'er.
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October 8, 2016 07:29 AM PDT
I love this group, their music is great and I hope you like it too. Follow the link, if you want to know more about them.
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November 15, 2015 10:10 PM PST
Thank you for the information, I am very happy with this post, is this legend of the famous rock music?
July 21, 2006 03:27 PM PDT
I dearly love this post, but I think I like Eli's comment even better.
December 30, 2005 02:49 PM PST
Footnote: Chilliwack was actually from Vancouver. They started out as The Classics, then became The Collectors, and finally switched to Chilliwack. None of the members were from Chilliwack, they just thought it was a cool name. It's a Salish Indian word meaning "going back up." Opus X was the first concert I ever went to, my Dad hung out in the lobby of the Centre of the Arts reading a paper while I went inside and had my first whiff of reefer. Childhood in Saskatchewan was a blast man, but thank god I'm gone gone gone.
December 29, 2005 02:43 PM PST
read the bonspiel line - classic! the key to fiero bands is that they have no irony. in fact, the majority of these kind of guys (fubar is a good example) are so totally innocent, even in their sex, drugs and rock and roll antics, that you have to love them. there's no hidden agenda.
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