Jul 012009

To Townsman Northvan and other Townspeople north of the border, we wish you a happy Canada Day! Americans have long had a hard time figuring out who’s Canadian in the entertainment world and other walks of life. Along these lines, I’d like to know the answer to the following question: Who is the most Canadian of Canadian rock ‘n rollers?

The Band, love ’em or leave ’em, for instance, have no chance in this Battle Royale; they spent too much time doing Civil War re-enactments. Neil Young, who’s also spent what seems to be an inordinate amount of time playing West Coast Hippie and Yankee, also seems to be a longshot, but what do I know? How about Sloan? Do their occasional British Invasion affectations detract from their Canadian-ness or strengthen it, as part of the country’s preference for “UK” spellings?

My guess is this will come down to a Battle Royale between Rush and The Guess Who, but again, what do I know? What do I know about what it means to be Canadian let alone the most Canadian of Canadian rock ‘n rollers?

For this special Canada Day edition Battle Royale, I’m calling on all Canadians to enter the Halls of Rock and help us identify the most Canadian of Canadian rock ‘n rollers. Thank you.


  43 Responses to “Battle Royale: On Canada Day, Rock Town Hall Asks, “Who is the most Canadian of Canadian rock ‘n rollers?””

  1. I always thought that Triumph and Bryan Adams were the most Canadian.

    I think I would take RUSH over Bryan Adams in the battle, but I do really like the early BA singles and I do hate some of the RUSH stuff


  2. Mr. Moderator

    Bryan Adams…see, I always forget that he’s Canadian. Doesn’t that make him not Canadian enough to contend in this battle?

    Triumph, on the other hand, is a strong contender! No one forgets that they’re Canadian. They may be at least as Canadian as Rush.

  3. I know they will never count as they never seemed to find an audience south the border, but my vote goes to the Rheostatics as the best reps for O Canada!


    They are the most “Canadian” band I’ve heard.


  4. Ugh, latelydavidband, I respectfully disagree.

    That Dave Bidini guy gloms onto to every lefty-hipster-Canadiana-CBC stance he can and tries to attach it to his band.

    The Rheostatics are pompous and unlistenable: 13 minutes of intolerable screeching, weird folk instruments and bad singing. Then they tell you the song is about a 19th Century shipwreck in Manitoba you should have hear of.

    I could sit here and tell you The Guess Who, Neil, Rush, Bryan Adams even Corey Hart. But -and I have to say I wouldn’t count myself as a fan- The Tragically Hip will be played by someone on an acoustic guitar at every campfire in Canada tonight. Of course, then someone will attempt to play Rush on an acoustic guitar and the party will be over.

  5. BigSteve

    Some might say Gordon Lightfoot doesn’t rock enough to win this, but that’s just his Canadian modesty at work.

  6. hrrundivbakshi




  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Check out Neal Peart rockin’ the mullet in 1975. It took Billy Ray Cyrus a full decade to pick up what Peart was layin’ down!

    Business in the front, party in the back,


  8. See, Northcave? Shows what I know about our Northern brethren. Apologies for the insult…


  9. 2000 Man

    I always liked that T shirt of a picture of the US with a big hat on it that says, “CANADA: America’s Hat.” Want one?:


    I don’t know why I think that’s funny, I just do. I really like Canada and Canadians quite a bit, though. We go there a few times a year because it’s awesome.

    I think the most Canadian band is Max Webster. Canada can keep them, too. I’ll give a big thanks for Black Mountain and Ladyhawk, though. There’s plenty more great bands in Canada right now, too.

    Happy Canada Day!

  10. Damn, I would have gone with Triumph or the ‘Foot but I got beat to the punch.

    I’ll tell you who it isn’t: the Band. And for that matter, it’s not Blue Rodeo either.

  11. I can’t wait for the Mexico: America’s Beard shirt.

  12. 2000 Man

    I think that’s Florida.

  13. sammymaudlin

    Bob & Doug McKenzie, hands down.

  14. Wow! Forget not Skinny Puppy and Blue Rodeo! Also downloaded a bunch of Tragically Hip 2 days ago. Very dense. Chilliwack! Loverboy!

    The land of Rock!

  15. Bare Naked Ladies…forgot about them

    Ok, does the fact that our supply of Canadian rockers is “wafer thin” say something?

    We could do Memphis, Atlanta, New York, Chicago all day. Even FLORIDA…but big-ass Canada has what 8 contenders from the last 40 years?

  16. hrrundivbakshi

    Surprised nobody’s mentioned Feart.

  17. Plenty of fine Canadian indie bands these days: The Dears, The Constantines, The Weakerthans. The latter band especially writes a lot about Canadian things and places.

    And then there’s this late ’90s song I love, “C’mon C’mon” by an alt-rock-shading-into-metal band called Bionic. There are many ridiculous things about this song, but I love the hilariously foul-mouthed opening line. Plus, the melody’s pretty sturdy in a Cheap Trick/power-pop kind of way.


  18. Mr. Moderator

    There have always been a great share of strong Canadian bands, but I’m asking who among them is the most Canadian. Granted, this means we have to have some sense of what it means to be Canadian. Make a choice – don’t just list every Canadian band you can think of. I’m proposing Joni Mitchell. She’s her own woman. She never fully fell into any of the American-based scenes in which she’s traveled. She’s got a dry sense of humor and seems tuned into nature. I bet she’s an excellent ice skater.

    Barenaked Ladies was a good suggestion. They tap into Canada’s rich comedy troupe tradition.

    I don’t know much about The Tragically Hip, but I’m willing to take Northvancoveman’s lead on that answer.

  19. 5 Neat Guys?

  20. alexmagic

    Can we explore “American Woman” a little? It has to rank among the goofiest rock hits, what with the incredibly confused metaphor that they can’t even maintain for the whole song by the time they start singing about not needing our war machines at the end. And then in falls apart into that “you know I’m gonna leeeeeeeave, you know I’m gonna gooooooo” stuff at the end.

    The album version of the song, which has the “American Woman” prelude, doubles the goofiness. I love how he spells out the entire word “american” even though you know he must have been thinking half way through “holy geez, this is a longer word than I thought.”

    “I said Aaaaa…I say Mmmmmm-uh…I say Eeeeeee…oooooohh Rrrrr….I say Iiiiiii…”

    I think, if you consider their mix of general rock politeness and latent hostility towards America, their Look (facial hair and style) and that sort of undefinable but innate “Canadianity” of their sound – like how you can instantly tell a movie or TV show is shot in Toronto despite being set in New York – it would be hard to argue against The Guess Who as the most Canadian rock band.

    Still, Rush is right there. They exhibited same kind of genial politeness in their rocking out, their videos were practically dripping with Canadian production values and their music was ideal for both playing Dungeons & Dragons and collecting hockey cards. I would imagine there is no better song than, say, Limelight for gathering in a rec room to marvel at one of those Guy LaFluer cards where he’s playing without a helmet. And Alex Lifeson did beat the hell out of some cops a few years ago, which gives Rush points for representing the Canadian desire to get into a good scrum now and again.

    It may be too close to call.

  21. Mr. Moderator

    Alexmagic, thank you for perfectly encapsulating the SHOWDOWN we thought we inevitable. I think it’s time we bring the SHOWDOWN to the polling booth!

  22. So which Canadian band best encapsulates humility, honesty, a sense of humor and socialized medicine? I don’t know, but here’s a video in which the bass player is dressed as a goalie:


  23. hrrundivbakshi

    alexmagic said:

    (Rush’s) music was ideal for both playing Dungeons & Dragons and collecting hockey cards…

    I say:

    Now THAT’s funny!

  24. hrrundivbakshi

    I had to go with Barenaked Ladies in the Big Choice Poll. Wish I had a cogent reason why. Bottom line: they just seem so very slightly, yet so very proudly, non-American. They really are the hat worn on America’s Rock Head. They are clearly attached to our Rock Head, but they are visibly not part of it. Rush and the Guess Who are just cogs in the great American rock machine.

    Now, if April Wine were in the poll…

  25. I haven’t voted yet, but I’m seriously considering The Tragically Hip, because the difference between their popularity in Canada and in the U.S. is so friggin’ wide. What’s more Canadian than a band that is huge in Canada and becomes obscure once you cross the border?

  26. Mr. Moderator

    Good point, Oats. I think there are a few more Canadian artists like The Tragically Hip. I’m blanking on the band’s name at the moment, but the ’70s band that was rumored to be The Beatles may have fit that bill in their time.

  27. BigSteve

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned BTO. They represent a different kind of Canadianity — the gruff but lovable, blue collar, heartland, no pretense, beer & a donut kind. Remember how unhip they were back in the day? Hipsters loathed them back then (I’m not excluding my snooty American self here), but their singles sound great now. Rough and ready, they just work.

  28. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, although the band may have an extraneous letter, like Klaatu, right?

    (cdm, when you get a chance can you shoot me your e-mail address offlist. The one I have for you is not working.)

  29. BTO scores Canuck bonus points for incorporating the Maple Leaf into their logo.

    Nominee for Most Canadian Song:


    And for BTO TMI:



    6. Who played piano on “Takin’ Care Of Business”?

    The piano was played by Norman Durkee, a pizza delivery person who
    happened to walk in on the band while they were recording the song.
    The pizza had actually been ordered by Steve Miller and War, who were
    recording in an adjacent studio. While asking BTO if they knew who ordered
    the pizza, Durkee heard the song, and suggested that it needed a piano.
    BTO let him add a piano track, liked how it sounded, and decided to keep
    it on the song.

    [Info taken from the Randy Bachman Interview at http://wcmr.com/rcb.htm%5D

  30. Awesome pizza delivery guy trivia. And that site is a bit retro, no?

  31. English and French are the official languages in Canada, right? I’ll nominate Michel Pagliaro, who can rock in either one:
    What’s more Canadian than that?

  32. rob bachman debunks the tcb/pizza delivery guy myth…

    RB: Here’s Randy’s version of the story. We were encased in the studio, and the pizza guy delivers our pizza. He hears us recording the song and says, “Hey, that needs piano!” Randy asks him if he can play. He does, and he goes into the studio and does one take. We think that’s cool, pay for the pizza, give him a tip and he leaves. Then Randy realizes that we have to pay this guy for the session! Randy and the president of Mercury Records sit down with the yellow pages and phone every pizza parlor in Seattle until 4 in the morning asking if they had a pizza delivered to Casement Studios by a guy who can play piano.

    Here’s the real story…

    We’re in the studio recording “Taking Care of Business.” In the next studio is a guy working with Steve Miller. He hears the song as he’s walking back and forth getting coffee. He sticks his head in and says, “That needs piano! A real boogie-woogie piano would sound cool.” Then he leaves. We’re looking around for him, asking, “Where’s that piano guy?” So Buzz Richmond, the engineer, tells us that he’s working next door and he’ll go get him. So he comes back, and asks us if we want piano on the song. He asks us how long the song is, and we tell him about five minutes. “Well,” he says, “I only have six.” He then picks up a pizza box, proceeds to write the chord progression on the cardboard box, puts it down on the piano, and plays it once. It sounds great. He then asks us to send him a check and he leaves us his card. The fellow’s name is Norman Durkee. He’s a musical director for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. We credited him on the album.

    We just did a album where we took live recordings that we mixed to sound like a studio album, replayed all the stuff and sang everything on there. I flew down to Seattle and contacted Norman and he played piano on this version of “Taking Care of Business” with the same workers, in the same studio where we originally recorded it in 1974. And, next door in the studio, at the same time, was Steve Miller! The studio manager was amazed. There’s some synergy for ya – better story than the one about the pizza guy. I have to explain this to Norman because the Pizza Guy story is now famous legend and in Randy’s book and DVD.

    Here’s some more of the truth. When Norman was starting out, he was doing the music and was the musical director for a stage show that was coming through Seattle at the Paramount, with an unknown, wonderful singer and actress named Bette Midler. They were rehearsing this Bob Dylan song called “I Shall Be Released”. He starts playing, she starts singing the song, and all of a sudden she starts crying! He thinks to himself, “Oh fuck, I’m fired now.” He stops playing, “I’m sorry Miss Midler, what’s wrong?” And she says, “I’ve never heard emotion come out of a piano like that before! It’s just making me so sad. Someone else is going to have to play for me onstage, because if you’re playing for me, I’ll be crying!” Norman replies, “Well, that may be good for the show!”

    Two years later, she phones Norman and tells him, “I’m flying in with my piano player and the president of Atlantic Records. I need you to teach us ‘I Shall Be Released’ on piano.”

    They fly in. She puts down her piano player, “Norman! Teach this fag how to play!” It was Barry Manilow.

    Here’s some more Norman Durkee-style trivia for ya. When I was in school doing physics and calculus, the guy next to me sharing the same slide rule was Ted Bundy. Now isn’t that a better story than the Pizza Guy story? The truth is, both of those stories together are much better than the story about some guy saying ” I think can play that” and leaving.

  33. BigSteve

    Bette Midler’s version of I Shall Be Released makes me cry too. Tears of rage.

  34. I have to say that I like the original pizza guy story better.

    Good Ted Bundy story, though. The craziest part? You and Ted Bundy actually know what a slide rule does.

  35. I guess bruinskip is not “The Mayor of Simpleton” then…

  36. no, not me — that’s rob bachman’s ted bundy/slide rule story.


    i remember my dad working the slide rule in the late ’60s/early ’70s (as well as mom’s huge metal adding machine) but i entered junior high at the dawn of the pocket calculator era.

    btw, a quick fact-check shows rob’s bundy story is even sillier than the pizza guy tale. bundy was born in 1946 and went to high school in tacoma. rob bachman was born in 1953 and presumably grew up in winnepeg. you can trust those bachmans as far as you can throw ’em.

  37. hrrundivbakshi

    Bruinskip said:

    you can trust those bachmans as far as you can throw ’em.

    I say:

    Which ain’t far!

    I seem to recall a pretty okay power-poppish album being delivered by Randy Bachman’s son. Am I remembering right? Whatever happened to that guy? And whatever happened to Owsley, for that matter? His debut album was pretty darn good, then… nothing, as far as I know.

  38. 2000 Man

    I like BTO. I know they aren’t terribly cool, but I’m not either.

    I thought of a truly Canadian band the other day. I know they weren’t real, but The Zit Remedy is burned into an entire generation of Canada’s collective teenage memory. And Joey and Snake are still Joey and Snake, so far as I know.

  39. Mr. Moderator

    I remember that Bachman son’s album as well AND Owsley, and I’ve also heard of neither artist since their initial splash. I’d bet Townsman mockcarr knows what’s up with Owsley – if not mockcarr then The Great 48.

  40. alexmagic

    I think I may have owned that Owsley album but I can only remember one song from it. I’m also pretty sure it came out the same time as that Tal Bachman one. Maybe they should have teamed up.

    I like the Pizza Delivery Guy story a lot. Other bands should start using that one to spruce up the story behind guest spots on their albums. “There we were, in the studio, working on ‘For No One’, when this pizza deliveryman called Alan pops his head in and says ‘S’nice and all, but couldn’t it use a stately, yet mournful french horn solo?’ And I said to him ‘Fair point, can you play the french horn, then?’ and he says ‘Hang on, let me head out to me car and fetch mine’ and so he did, and Paul rather liked it. Ringo never did get his pizza, though.”

  41. When the Ohio Players were recording Love Rollercoaster, the Pizza Delivery Guy showed up with a pizza sans onions like they had ordered. The model from the Honey cover immediately set upon the guy, stabbing him multiple times, while saying “how do you like these onions”. His scream was forever immortalized on the recording.

  42. diskojoe

    I may be a little late on this, but to celebrate Canada Day last week, I watched the SCTV episode that featured the Ian Thomas Band. Ian Thomas is the brother of Dave Thomas & it was funny seeing do the “hoser” act w/Bob & Doug.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube