Saturday, January 12, 2008

Top ten Canadian Albums of all Time by Shane Christensen

Read More of Shane’s Article Here.

Recently, I compiled my choices for the Top Ten Best Rock Albums of all Time, Article can be read here , and unfortunately there were no Canadian artists present. Being the true patriot that I am, I decided that that just wasn’t going to work, and felt I should do a follow up piece which would profile my top ten Canadian Rock albums of all time.

In my earliest childhood recollections, music played a pivotal part in my upbringing and would truly define my very being. And a good part of this music was homegrown, because this country has produced a great abundance of local musical talent.

Some of my earliest musical memories included artists like: Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and of course the Guess Who, as these acts were frequently played on my favourite radio station of legendary status in Toronto, 1050 CHUM. And it wasn’t fan appreciated because of Canadian Content Regulations either, as all of these acts enjoyed huge international success, especially south of the border.

And the one thing I found while writing this article, is that this list was a lot harder to compile than my previous one, and I think the reason is because I do feel a deep attachment/loyalty to our homegrown acts. I am unashamedly proud of the following artists along with those who have furthered followed in their predecessor’s footsteps, and have proven to the entire world that my Canada cradles an abundance of creativity and talent.

As in my previous article (see link above), the criterion remains the same for an album to make my Swanktrendz list.

And this is as follows:

1.) Album must have been critically and/or commercially successful

2.) Must have innovative qualities that changed the production/approach of popular music

3.) Muscian and technical work is so good, it can not possibly be denied as being exceptional

But the difference in this list is that I’m going to add a fourth criteria, as follows:

4.) Noted album must have had a profound impact on the Canadian music industry

My choices for the top ten Canadian albums of all time are:

1.) Harvest Neil Young

Neil had already achieved notable success in the U.S. with Buffalo Springfield and CSNY, but this album was an enormous critical and commercial success that put him on the map as a solo artist, and as being uniquely Canadian, at that. I always felt that our music is a reflection of our national conscience, heart, and soul. Neil embodies all of that - and so throughly, he continues this Canadiana embodiment right through to the present day. He is our national treasure of whom we are all proud.

2.) Court and Spark Joni Mitchell

Many fans and critics would have picked the album Blue, but I’ve always preferred this offering. With smash hits such as Help Me and Free Man In Paris, this work firmly entrenched Joni as one of the greatest musical acts of the day. Even Jimi Page and Robert Plant were huge fans, and their classic song Going To California is believed to be penned for or about her. Not bad for a beautiful lady from Saskatchewan. Her innovation and originality, as well as the fact that she was a great inspiration to a whole generation of young women, provides more than enough reason to place this album so high on my list.
(Editor’s note - I agree! Same for Town & Country)
3.) Moving Pictures Rush

Although they had achieved a fair amount of international success, it wasn’t until this album came out that Rush was looked at with the level of respect that they truly deserved. Musically, they took it to a whole new level with songs like Tom Sawyer and Red Barchetta which propelled the band’s sales to dizzying heights, especially south of the border. Without a doubt, these guys are the best technical musicians this country has ever produced, and the work on Moving Pictures was second to none.

4.) Road Apples Tragically Hip

I can still remember the first time I heard a couple of tunes off this album in a Belleville, Ontario, bar; waiting to go on with the band I was in at the time. During the intro tunes, I rushed over to the deejay to inquire, “Who the hell is that?”, then immediately went out and bought the disc the following morning. I didn’t stop listening to it for months, and it’s still in regular rotation in my house and car. Quite simply, a great album from start to finish.

5.) Self Titled Tom Cochrane and Red Rider

The first song I heard from this album was Ocean Blue, and it immediately blew me away. But shortly after hearing The Untouchable One and Boy Inside The Man, I was again off to the record store and was thrilled to find out that this was indeed one of those special albums. One of the ironies of life is that while this very strong album did well, his ’91 release Mad Mad World would garner unprecedented critical and commercial success due to the popularity of the lead single, Life Is A Highway. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Of special note is Ken Greer’s contribution both to this band and Canadian music in general with his help in launching that band out of Kingston way back in ‘87.

6.) Fully Completely The Tragically Hip

The Hip had achieved a fair amount of success by the time their third full length album was released in ’92, and Fully Completely would propel them to their present status as probably THE number one Canadian band of all time, although many Rush fans would obviously disagree. But the Hip did what Rush never could, and that was to place itself firmly in the Canadian psyche of an unprecedented number of fans, so much so that they have undoubtedly become indelibly connected with all things Canadian.

And on Fully Completely , songs like Wheat Kings and Fifty Mission Cap brought the music production industry to a whole new level, and there it has stayed since this album’s release.

7.) American Woman The Guess Who

Driven by the huge commercial success of the title track, this album solidified The Guess Who’s position as the top Canadian band of the time. In many respects this also marked the pinnacle for the band, as although they still enjoyed commercial success after Randy Bachman’s departure, the critical and commercial level of success was never duplicated to the level they attained upon the release of this, their third album. But these guys were definitely trailblazers for Canadian music, as they paved the way for all the other Canadian acts who followed in their footsteps.

8.) Reckless Bryan Adams

Mr. Adams became a household name in Canada after the release and phenomenal success of this album back in ’84. It spawned a total of six hit singles, and included the raunchy It’s Only Love duet with the best legs on the planet, Tina Turner. He would go on to have more record breaking success in the early ‘90s with one of the biggest singles of all time, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You , which spent an astounding 4 months at #1 on the UK record charts. And he’s still maintained his nice guy personality through all the fame and fortune, which just makes it extra sweet. I guess nice guys can finish first after all. Way to go Bryan! You da man!

9.) Come On Over Shania Twain

I know some of you are immediately asking yourselves, “Isn’t this suppose to be the top Canuck rock albums list?” And that is one of the reasons for this albums placing in the top ten. Sure it’s sold over 35 million copies worldwide, and that qualifies as the biggest seller album ever by a member of the fairer sex. But when you look at the track listing, you have to really question how much of this record is country at all. Like a lot of great artists, Shania is capable of bridging and fusing musical styles and genres from song to song, and that’s a major reason for her massive appeal and success. If I ever come across a genie in a bottle, my only wish is that I should be turned into Robert “Mutt” Lange immediately. The luckiest guy on the whole planet!

10.) All The Right Reasons Nickelback

I know there is a lunatic fringe that exists that hates anything or anyone that is super-successful, regardless of whether they deserve this success or not. And Nickelback seems to be one of those bands that just doesn’t get the critical respect they deserve.

Case in point; This album has sold over 6.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, and has never been below #30 on the Billboard Top 200 for over 103 weeks. Only Shania’s Come On Over has a longer run that high on the charts, as it stayed over 123 weeks in the top 30. And it’s kind of funny that both artists get slagged or disrespected by some because of…what? I don’t understand it, ‘cause in my mind they are both great artists that have produced top quality music that millions of people enjoy. And I’m sure they both take great pleasure in that fact, and it helps to drown out the sounds of the naysayers who take ‘offense’ from their enormous accomplishments.

I happen to be very proud of what Nickelback has done as they’ve proven to Canada and rest of the world that great things come from the smallest of places…even Hanna, Alberta (population 2500). Well Done!

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