Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The 80's: Good or bad for music, overall? Amid all the synths and bad hair, hair metal bands and cheesy videos, there were certainly some decent albums, albeit sometimes ruined by the glossy production and drum sounds of the time. Canada was a full player in the times, with superstars such as Bryan Adams and Rush leading the charge. Plus, we had our homegrown roster of stars filling up the airwaves, creating our own national memories.

This two-disc set does a pretty fair job arguing that the decade was decent. There are few big names here. Instead it's jammed with one, two or three-hit wonders, good bands that had a fair run at it, and remain pleasant memories in most cases. Yes, there are examples of all the above sins, especially the dated production, but as a collection it holds together as a strong listen.

The country's groups came out of punk and New Wave with a bunch of strong groups pushing boundaries. Martha & the Muffins had the big hit with Echo Beach, but there was also Spoons and Nova Heart, Blue Peter's Don't Walk Away, and Payola$ with Eyes Of A Stranger. Pop got an edge too, with The Northern Pikes' Teenland, The Pursuit Of Happiness' favourite I'm An Adult Now, and The Grapes Of Wrath All The Things I Wasn't. There was still rock and roll, and Kim Mitchell did that just fine, on Go For Soda, while Tom Cochrane & Red Rider were growing white hot with hits like Big League and Lunatic Fringe. Luba had her moment in the sun on the pop charts, represented here by Let It Go, while Colin James started a long career with Five Long Years.

Not to say it's all strong. I'll happily skip over the muted metal of Triumph, Helix and Prism, while Glass Tiger, Eight Seconds and Sheriff are still fluff. The ultimate Canadian moment comes at the end, with Bob & Doug McKenzie's Take Off, featuring Geddy Lee on vocals, a novelty but national treasures all the same. I don't have a lot of nostalgic feelings about the 80's, so this will do me just fine when they do crop up.

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