Wrabit - Tracks

Essential Series – Canadian Classics Vol 1

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Here’s my first cut of Essential Canadian Classics (Volume 1. There is more to follow in future volumes from artists north of the US border.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTICLE: The Essential Series – Canadian Classics (Volume 1)
YEAR: 2017


Call it what you will. Mapleleaf Mayhem, Prairie Rock, North of the Border Metal, one thing is for certain, the Canadians sure have released a ton of essential good rock music over the decades, and here’s our first volume. There’s so much to cover, and so many albums to include on future volumes, but we gotta start somewhere right?

The two hotspots for Canadian activity has always been Toronto in the east and Vancouver in the west. Ottawa and Montreal to a lesser extent, so too Winnipeg, though there is no doubting that some superb acts have originated from all those places.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, Canadian rock music seemed to be aimed at folk/country influences. But it wasn’t until the Bachman Turner Overdrive and their swandri-checked clothing gear arrived, that things tended to heavy up. Other bands included The Guess Who, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush. Let’s not forget Heart (though technically an American band with a Canadian record deal) and the Led Zep fuelled power-trios Rush and Triumph who also propelled things along. It made the late 70’s and 80’s a fantastic era for the Canadians. Here’s my first Essential Series cut, more to follow in future volumes.

The Albums

Wrabit – 1982 Tracks

I’m an unabashed fan of this album, it still remains high on my list of 1980’s favourite releases and is essential as it gets. Though the debut album from the year before ‘Wrough And Wready’ earned a gushing review from Sounds Magazine writer Paul Suter, for me it is ‘Tracks’ that lifts it up a gear. The songs are breathtaking and relentless. From ‘Run For Cover’ all the way through to ‘There Was A Time’, the album is a winner. If I was awarding an 11 out of 10, ‘Tracks’ would probably get it. Thrilling stuff.

Wrabit – Run For Cover

Run For Cover - WRABIT

Bryan Adams – 1984 Reckless

This guy tipped 1985 on it’s head with his breakout album ‘Reckless’, released at the tail of 1984. Hit singles galore, songs all over the radio, and a catchy delivery system ensured worldwide appreciation. I still listen to ‘Reckless’ often, and as far as longevity is concerned, this one still hangs around like the half-life of Uranium. Will we still be listening to it in 500 years time? Most likely.

Bryan Adams – Run To You

Bryan Adams - Run To You

Aldo Nova – 1982 Aldo Nova

Whirling helicopters, guns, laser sound effects and tiger-skin jumpsuits. This album had it all. Much like the debut Night Ranger LP which was released about the same time, ‘Aldo Nova’ is a stunning debut album from the one-man does it all. ‘Fantasy’ the lead single was all over radio and rightly so, but the rest of the album is high on classy AOR. IMHO, there’s not a sign of weakness here. Tracks 1 to 10 are the bee’s knees. One for the ages, and yeah, 1982 was a fantastic year all round.

Aldo Nova – Fantasy

Aldo Nova - Fantasy

Lee Aaron – 1987 Lee Aaron

A noticeable change on this record for Canada’s Metal Queen. Gone were the Viking furs and heavy metal overtones, for something a little more sophisticated and high class. This 1987 album reeks of major label AOR, and most of the tunes here are superb. The Wrabit pairing of John Albani and Chris Brockway go some way toward driving this down AOR Boulevard, and not Heavy Metal Alley. ‘Powerline’, ‘Hands Are Tied’, ‘Empty Heart’ and the awesome ballad ‘Only Human’ makes this an essential listen.

Lee Aaron – Only Human

Lee Aaron - Only Human (HQ)

Streetheart – 1978 Meanwhile. Back In Paris

One of the best bands from the Canadian Prairies, who earned a lot of love and respect during the 70’s and 80’s. With Winnipeg origins, the band juggled several albums and record labels during their run, but it’s their debut which kinda does it for me. I’ve always enjoyed songs like ‘Action’ (a Canadian radio staple), ‘Can You Feel It’ and the superb ‘Captain Rhythm’. The album takes several directions, through AOR, power-pop and the 70’s Brit rock of ‘Move On Over’. Their 80’s discography is quite strong, and there’s plenty to listen to, should you accept the challenge.

Streetheart – Captain Rhythm

Captain Rhythm

Sheriff – 1982 Sheriff

It was those high falsetto vocals from singer Freddy Curci that stole the show on this 1982 album. This Toronto band should have been huge back in the day, but their path to fortune and glory all came about years after the band had actually broken up. The hit single ‘When I’m With You’ actually became a number one in 1988, of all things. Two parts of this band, and three parts of Heart, became the band Alias, who took 1990 by storm. Two other parts of this band became Frozen Ghost. The world certainly works in mysterious ways.

Sheriff – Makin’ My Way (Back To You)

Sheriff - Makin' My Way

Coney Hatch – 1982 Coney Hatch

Upon acquiring this in 1982, it took awhile for me to warm up to it, but in the end, I ultimately did. The band had connections to Pye Dubois, who in turn had connections to Kim Mitchell, Rush and the Anthem label. Sporting two singers in Carl Dixon and Andy Curran, Coney Hatch certainly had the songs and the attitude. ‘Devils Deck’ is a bonafide class, ‘You Ain’t Got Me’, ‘We Got The Night’, ‘Hey Operator’ and ‘Monkey Bars’ are all kinda cool too. The band went out on the road with Judas Priest in 1982. No small feat for a fledgling band.

Coney Hatch – We Got The Night

We Got the Night

Eight Seconds – 1990 Big Houses

Here’s another Ottawa band which makes the list. Eight Seconds had been around since the mid 80’s, and specialised in AOR meets a new romantic style which was quite bombastic and keyboard-heavy. Fine by me. ‘Almacantar’ was their first full-length album back in 1986, but it’s the second one called ‘Big Houses’ which came out four years later that gets bragging rights here. ‘Tell Diane’, ‘Chopin’s Heart’ and the totally overblown ‘Thorn In My Side’ are all sensational tracks, and the keyboard work from Frank Levin is off the charts.

Eight Seconds – Tell Diane

Eight Seconds - Tell Diane

Reckless – 1980 Reckless

I didn’t pick this LP up until 1981, but by then, Ottawa band Reckless were already out of the bag. They were given big coverage in Sounds Magazine, despite EMI Canada’s poor PR campaign locally. Never the mind, as EMI affiliates picked up the album for release elsewhere. There are a string of excellent songs here. ‘Searching For A Dream’, ‘Ready For Action’, ‘Victim Of Time’, and the title track ‘Reckless’ are all killer tunes. It took close to four decades for this to get a CD release. Thank the lord for small mercies, and Rock Candy Records.

Reckless – Victim Of Time

Reckless - Victim of Time 1981

Surrender – 1979 Surrender

Somewhere along the way, we couldn’t mention Canadian melodic rock without the name Alfred Zapapcosta popping up. And here he is: with arguably one of the late 70’s great underrated records. That first Surrender album was a closet classic in my books, from the Gino Vannelli like ballad of ‘Nicole’ to the amazing dramatic bombast of ‘Turn Down The Mission’, still recognised as one of the greatest pomp tunes exported out of Canada. Years later, Escape Music would release a bumped up CD full of many extra tracks. Then of course there are all the Zappacosta solo albums as well. When it comes to Surrender, I feel I’m preaching to the converted here at GDM, but you know how it is.

Surrender – Turn Down The Mission

Surrender - Turn Down The Mission

In Summary

As a first crack at putting together a Canadian list, you can imagine there are hundreds more to come. This is just the beginning. Some albums may overlap into other Essential Series articles written by other writers. We’ll see how that goes over time.

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External Link:

Canadian Bands.com

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1 thought on “Essential Series – Canadian Classics Vol 1

  1. [Tompa] Those Reckless and Surrender albums are just excellent albums, filled to the brim with musical brilliance. Surrender is in fact downright perfect, not a skipable track on it.

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