Friday, July 08, 2016

Weekend Listomania: Special Canadian Content Edition

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manual catharsis specialist Fah Lo Suee and I are off to spend the sabbath in Israel, where Donald Trump is opening his latest outreach to the Jewish community -- a swank resort called Shtetl-a-Lago. No golf course, alas, but I'm told they have some very nice pawnshops.

That being the case, posting will necessarily be fitful for a couple of days. So in the meantime, here's a fun little project to help us wile away the idle hours...

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop/Rock/Soul Song or Record Written or Performed by People of Canadian Extraction!!!

No arbitrary rules of any kind, you bastids, so play nice.

And my totally top of my head Top Eight is/are...

8. Zal Yanovsky -- Alive and Well in Argentina

The title song from the transplendent solo album of the same name. Gee -- a lyric that name-checks Hitler by a Jew who isn't Mel Brooks? I can't imagine why this didn't get the radio airplay it clearly deserved.

7. Toronto -- Your Daddy Don't Know

This is a great song, actually -- it was memorably covered by no less than Neko Case and the New Pornographers -- but man, that video is like a distillation of everything crappy about the 80s into one cringe-making package. Good grief, those people look like idiots.

6. Levon and The Hawks -- The Stones I Throw

Yeah, I know, I know -- Levon's from Arkansas. But the rest of them are Canadians, so cut me some slack. I'm not actually sure whether they recorded this before or after they hooked up with Dylan, but in any case the sound is certainly there. Should have been a hit, too, in my humble opinion.

5. The Wackers -- Oh My Love

Best cover of a solo Beatles record ever. In fact, people actually thought it WAS the Beatles when it got played on the radio.

4. Sloan -- I Can't Let Go

The Evie Sands/Hollies classic as recorded sort of live (from the great Sloan Party album). These guys are gods in Canadia, and with good reason.

3. Gino Vanelli -- I Just Wanna Stop

The horror. The horror.

2. The Poppy Family -- Which Way You Goin' Billy?

One of the drippiest records ever made; Terry Jacks, the male member(heh!) of this duo, would later go on to commit the crime against nature that is "Seasons in the Sun."

And the all time greatest song ever recorded by our sadly inferior neighbors in the Northern Hemisphere -- don't give me any shit about this because I'll slap you silly if you do -- unquestionably is...

1. Bob and Doug McKenzie (Featuring Geddy Lee) -- Take Off

I can forgive Geddy Lee pretty much anything thanks to this one.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?


Alzo said...

"Anybody here seen the fuzzy-wuzzy loving cult explosion? I think we missed it!"

...just one of the gems from The Guess Who, who peppered a lot of remarkably good tunes with some of the dumbest lyrics ever committed to vinyl. Guess What?-- that makes them a guilty pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Canada owned the 80's - Loverboy, Saga, Pat Travers, Jeff Healey, April Wine. Gotta go with Klaatu's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Spacecraft" as the most Canadian thing ever.

Shriner said...


What a great song.

And and I've always quoted ever since I first hear this 30 years ago: "Ten bucks is ten bucks!"

steve simels said...

Incidentally, I didn't include anything by the Guess Who because I think the transcend Canadian-ness.

They are truly citizens of the world.

Anonymous said...

Pursuit of happiness were from Canada

steve simels said...

Should have been on the list.

I regret the error.

The Kenosha Kid said...

Best - Neil Young "Down by the River"

Worst - Paul Anka "She's Having my Baby"

you can mail me the no-prize now.

BG in Q said...

I second Kenosha's choice of "Down by the River" although I think many Neil Young songs could make the cut.

Anne Murray, otoh --- "Snowbird" makes me cringe.

Anonymous said...

Mother Tucker's Yellow Duck - One Ring Jane


Mark said...

Some of my longstanding Canadian faves.

Chilliwack - Lonesome Mary (1971) from Chilliwack 2

Chilliwack - I Know, You Know (1974) from Rockerbox (Bill Henderson should be a Canadian national musical treasure)

Martha and the Muffins - Women Around The World At Work (1981) from This Is The Ice Age (probably the greatest song about women as a political class, Yoko Ono notwithstanding, ever written)

Men Without Hats - Messiahs Die Young (1984) from Folk Of The 80s (Part III)

54-40 - Baby Ran (1986) from 54-40

The Pursuit Of Happiness - I’m An Adult Now (1988) from Love Junk

Sloan - Underwhelmed (1992) from Smeared

The Odds - Heterosexual Man (1993) from Bedbugs

The Tea Party - Save Me (1993) from Splendor Solis

The Odds - Radios Of Heaven (1995) from Good Weird Feeling Odds

The Odds - Someone Who’s Cool (1996) from Nest (boy, we're the Odds good)

Smoother - East Coast, West Coast (2001) from Chasing The Dragon

Smoother - Snake (2001) from Chasing The Dragon

Sloan - Who Taught You To Live Like That (2006) from Never Hear The End Of It

I can't tell you how much pleasure the Smoother album, Chasing The Dragon, has given me over the past 15 years. From Hamilton, Ontario. Four copies of this CD are available at Amazon for a penny.

US, of course.

MJConroy said...

SO many possibilities!
How about some Kathleen Edwards?
"Back To Me"
"In State"
"6 O'Clock News"

Anonymous said...

No mention of all of those William Shatner covers?

pete said...

I think Neil Young, like the Guess Who, its just too universal for this list.

No love for Chilliwack?

Lorne Greene's "Ringo"? Best coat-tail riding evah!

And, of course, the Paupers, first of the two-drummer (sometimes three) groups.

Ian Tyson wrote some great songs. Sylvia, too.

Then there's Gordon Lightfoot, in a class by himself. "Sundown" - written about the Canadian super-groupie Kathy Smith, who both a) gave Belushi his last speedball and b) had Richard Manuel's baby.

pete said...

Or is it Cathy? And I missed the Chilliwack reference above - my apologies. BTW, I've actually BEEN to Chilliwack.

Anonymous said...

May I recommend Crash Vegas who put out three wonderful albums in the '90's. Think of them as a moody new wave version of The Blood Oranges.

Captain Al

John F said...


Sloan - "Ill-Placed Trust", off of Never Hear the End of It. This album is probably my favorite of all the recommendations I've followed from this blog, and this tune is standout. Thanks to Steve for the link to the Sloan cover.

New Pornographers - "The Bleeding Heart Show", off of Twin Cinema. OK, sure, Neko's not Canadian, but the band hails from Vancouver. So many great choices by the band, but I picked this one because I love the homemade video in the link.

The Band - "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", off of The Last Waltz. I suppose given the song content, style and Levon Helm's vocals, this maybe doesn't belong on a Canadian Listomania. I'm still adding it.

Neil Young - "Needle and the Damage Done", off of Harvest. Solo, no Crazy Horse, so seems to fit with the list. On Johnny Cash's TV show.

Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides Now", off of Clouds. Solo, on Mama Cass's TV show. Chosen because I also wanted to add...

Jason Falkner - "Both Sides Now", apparently a B-side. Previously linked to by Steve a while back; I'm guessing that a large fraction of its YouTube plays can be traced to me. Falkner's American (but the songwriter isn't, so it's allowed).

The Kings - "This Beat Goes On / Switchin' to Glide", off of The Kings Are Here. A decent one-hit wonder song from the early 80's.

Alanis Morissette - "You Oughta Know", off of Jagged Little Pill. Ok, perhaps derivative (see Liz Phair) and overly produced; but I admit to enjoying this as a guilty pleasure on the car radio when it came out.

Arcade Fire - "Wake Up", off of Funeral. I like, but don't love, this band. Some of their songs are indistinguishable from each other (to me, at least). But this one's quite good.

Loverboy - "Working for the Weekend"; slightly saved by the Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Farley at the link.

Bryan Adams - "Summer of '69" - I can't think of a more clich├ęd, boring, non-rocking song about nostalgia for teenager-dom. "Played it 'til by fingers bled", argh.

Anonymous said...

If you want something Canadian that is obscure but musically worthwhile,
check out two late 60s albums, originally on A&M, by a band called the CHURLS. The first album, in particular, has a powerful guitar sound that reminds me of the Who and the MC5. Pacemaker Records, a Canadian reissue label, put out the two LPs on one CD a few years ago; it's still available as far as I know.

Thanks for showing Canada some love,

J. Lag (Your Canadian pal)

JR said...

worst... hmm - anything from Helix? but really, you absolutely cannot be forgiven for overlooking The Tragically Hip, YFF.

steve simels said...

Thanks for the tip on the Churls. Sounds VERY interesting.

And JR -- I gotta tell you, I've really really tried. But I don't understand the Tragically Hip.

Dave said...

This is an easy one for me: Dan Bryk, a singer-songwriter who has emigrated to Washington D.C. He'll make you laugh: and make you cry: And then make you laugh some more: and then cry some more: And that's just from one album. I didn't know I needed a chronicler of suburban Ontario, but I did.

Dave F.

cthulhu said...

I consider most of the Tragically Hip's stuff to be an acquired taste. But their early '90s albums Fully Completely and Day For Night have some real gems, particularly "At the Hundredth Meridian" and "Nautical Disaster". And some very sad news recently that their lead singer and chief lyricist Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.

The Odds are just wonderful; I'll never forget seeing them open for Warren Zevon in 1992, then re-take the stage as Zevon's muy simpatico band. Killer show.

And much respect to Gordon Lightfoot; "Edmund Fitzgerald" is really one of the great story-songs. A voice for the ages.

What did any of us ever do to deserve Anne Murray?

Mark said...

@Pete -- I too have been to Chilliwack, in 1978 with Wife 1 while driving across Canada on a summer-long-across-Canada-down-the-West-Coast-and-back-across-the-U.S.-driving vacation. I wasn't aware that Chilliwack was a PLACE until I looked at a BC map while driving on the Trans-Canada Highway, Canada's Route 1, or as it's called here in the US, Route .8.

steve simels said...

I'd forgotten that the Odds were Canucks.

buzzbabyjesus said...

What no Max Webster?

That's Canadian.

Alzo said...

From Toronto: The Diodes were a wonderful early punk-pop outfit. The Viletones were vile, but they did leave us the fantastic 'Screamin Fist.'

salhepatica said...

The Leslie Spit Treeo do a great cover of "Angel From Montgomery." Was in Toronto spelunking around for some nightlife and got turned onto Crash Vegas, found out they were doing a show in a second-floor walkup near Kensington Market. Got there and found out the band was forced to cancel due to illness and only the opening band would be playing -- it was Leslie Spit Treeo. Their first album with "Angel" came out here but the second was Canada-only. Kind of a power-pop sound.

M_Sharp said...

Count Floyd made an album that was so bad it was scary, I'm not kidding you!

I'm pretty sure it was a 12" EP, but I don't even want to dig it out to see, it was so bad. He was great on Monster Chiller Horror Theater, though. Dr. Tongue's 3-D House Of cats was a classic!