Sometimes it's easy for Americans to forget, much to the chagrin of our neighbor to the north, that we are not alone on this continent. Canadians, of course, can't help but be reminded that they aren't alone, with their big, noisy, neighbor to the south. Naturally, much American media has flooded across the borders, in the form of music, movies, television, radio. So much so in fact that Canada had to pass the Canadian Content Law in 1975 to make sure their own culture and artists weren't overrun; media outlets are required to contain at least 25% homegrown content. This ushered in a golden age for Canadian rock; preserving older artists in rotation, and assuring at least limited space for new ones. As a result, there are far too many worthwhile Canadian artists to include in a top-20 list. Still, a top-20 makes for an interesting playlist, and a good overview.
An overview of important/influential artists/songs include:
1. Rush: Tom Sawyer
One of the longest-lived and most popular of Canadian musical exports to America, Rush has had a recording career stretching as far back as 1974; their current line-up of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart have been together since then, one of the longest spans of no personnel changes of any band in history. The band actually dates all the way back to 1968, when a trio of Lee, Lifeson, and drummer John Rutsey formed in Toronto. Rutsey lasted through their 1974 self-titled debut, after which he was replaced by Peart. The highpoint of their career was Moving Pictures, from 1981, which peaked at #3 in America. "Tom Sawyer" marked a maturation of their sound, from a murky heavy metal band into a cleanly produced progressive one. Rush's career has remained fairly consistent and successful; their most recent release, Feedback, made the top-20 in 2004.
2. April Wine: Just Between You And Me
While April Wine's popularity in the U.S. was limited to a relatively short stretch in the early 80's, they are among Canada's most enduring and respected bands. April Wine was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1969, but soon relocated to Montreal, which became their base of operations. Their 1976 album, The Whole World's Goin' Crazy was the first Canadian album to go platinum. Situated somewhere between hard rock and heavy metal, with pop impulses, the band evolved through the 70's into a more mainstream outfit, scoring their biggest American hit in 1981 with "Just between You And Me", a power ballad from Nature of the Beast. Despite some key lineup changes, the band is active today, under founding member Myles Goodwyn's leadership.