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The Big Four From The Great White North

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I just stumbled over this Fun Flak magazine article on the twentieth anniversary of four albums that made it safe to be a rocker from Canada:

So what are these fab four?

Rush, Moving Pictures. Triumph, Allied Forces. April Wine, The Nature of the Beast. Loverboy, Get Lucky. Toronto, Scarborough, Montreal and Vancouver.

All were veteran bands before these albums were released with the exception of Loverboy, whose release was only its second album. The Midwest, home to more mulletheads driving Camaros per capita than anywhere else, glommed onto these bands first, making it a rare case of the non-Chicago Midwest leading a trend.

Even within this community, there were clear delineations. Rush, thanks to drummer Neil Peart and his Ayn Rand-inspired lyrics, got the wild-armed air drummers and the stoner intellectuals. Triumph, a Rush knock-off, got the stoners who liked Rush but didn’t want to think so fuckin’ hard, man. April Wine got the flat-out rockers who followed the band’s advice in “Wanna Rock,” believing “disco is just a social disease.” And Loverboy was what they all listened to if they had a girl in the car.

The bands’ ascendency reflected a love for everything Canada, and 1981 was, in fact, the year you could come out as a Canadian. One of the most popular comedy duos was Bob and Doug McKenzie, two hosers — what they called each other — on the Canadian comedy show SCTV, still shown today on NBC. Bob & Doug (Rick “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Moranis and Dave “I Survived Working with Brett Butler” Thomas) even had a hit record the next year, complete with a guest spot by Rush bassist Geddy Lee.

Their success paved the way for a sort of Canadian coming out party — Dan Aykroyd is Canadian! Lorne Greene is Canadian! Lorne Michaels is Canadian! Paul Shaffer is Canadian! The Montreal Expos made the playoffs!

As I said, it’s a fun article, except for one glaring omission: there’s no mention of the man who pioneered Canadian rock and roll, and made it all possible.

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