Skip to main content

Great Forgotten Canadian Music of the 80s

A few of Eyewear's favourite bands from his teen years...

Chalk Circle was a band that seemed clearly influenced by Big Country and U2 - they had a big sound and perhaps 'April Fool' was their biggest-hearted tune.  Utterly forgotten by most people now.

The Payolas had an echoey guitar vibe that reminds one of 'I'm In Love With A German Film Star' but were - again - Canadian New Wave.  Thus, basically, unheard of now.  Their classic is 'Eyes of a Stranger'.

I saw Blue Rodeo at the McGill Ballroom - for a time they were a kind of local Crowded House.  'Try' is their big hit.

Red Rider's 'Lunatic Fringe' has long been a radio classic.  Few know it is by a Canadian band fronted by Tom Cochrane.

'Nova Heart' by The Spoons is probably the quintessential Canadian New Wave song.  As good as Visage?

Strange Advance were New Romantics North, and 'We Run' from 1985 is their finest moment.

Okay, I was wrong - 'Echo Beach' from 1980, by Martha and the Muffins, is likely the best-known Canadian New Wave hit.

Also from 1980, the very louche 'High School Confidential' by Rough Trade.  This brings back high school viscerally.

Montrealer Corey Hart became - briefly - an international heart-throb (with his Harrison Ford looks, and falsetto whine) - and had a few kitsch hits, most especially 'Sunglasses at Night' which was, for a time, hugely influential as a fashion statement.

Northern Pikes - with 'Teenland' - had another classic Northern Wave hit in 1987.

The Pursuit of Happiness, in 1986, produced a video that really captures what it looked and felt like to be a Canadian teen coming of age, 'I'm An Adult Now'.  The weird guy dancing looks like Robert Lowell on a jag, and the lead singer walks through Toronto that looks as bleak as some Siberian mining town.

The Box scored an unlikely Can-Con hit with their Quebec City featuring video, 'Closer Together', and Jean Chretien delivery.

However, the kitsch crown must go to Gowan, whose 1985 'Criminal Mind' featured the voice (I think) of Paul Soles (Spider-Man in the original cartoon).

Canada's greatest band of this period - the REM of the North - was The Tragically Hip.  Their top song is arguably 'Blow At High Dough'.  It showcases their trademark narrative hi-octane intensity, where small-town lives converge with big emotions and experiences.  I am not sure exactly what this is about, but I love the idea of a film crew coming to a small town and a local guy who "can get behind anything" out at the speedway.

Popular posts from this blog

Michael Horovitz Has Died

Michael Horovitz  was a wonderful, funny, entertaining, intelligent, generous and visionary poet and a significant part of the British poetry scene post-war. His death is sad and a true loss, but his spirit and many projects and poems will live on. 


My report will be brief this year - I am grateful to be alive. 2021 was a very tough year for a lot of people - and 2022 looks to be also very challenging. Up until December, 2021, I would have said the best of the year was keeping the Eyewear publishing company going so it could reach its 10th year (2022), and therefore keeping a small good team in work; and 100s of books in print. Personally, hiking in Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland, and doing wild swimming, and training with Al Beard, and Wimbledon, would have been summer highlights; plus great sporting events, and the English almost winning the Euros... Then, a few days before Christmas, I went into the hospital for heart failure; I have a large blood clot on my heart, and my heart was only working 17% or so. Now it is up to 22%. I am off work, and still seriously ill, on 15 or more tablets a day. My family is worried, it is a super worrying time. I am focused on recovery, doing what must be done, staying calm as possible. I


WHO CARES WHO THE NEXT JAMES BOND WILL BE WHEN WE HAVE CRAIG TODAY? i.m. Douglas Barbour who died yesterday. Been a while since I thought a poem was a pop song Instead of a Walter ppk to the heart of the superstructure, Interrogating the very concept of linguistic designer thoughts; A poet never changes their spots, just their t-shirts, the ideas At the core of a human are not easily ironed out with ironic References to transhumanism, or Mao; no, we can smell fear Of losing the bank vault to the Beagle Boys, we know when Herr Nobel really likes the boy with the bowl cut, or the red lingerie. It’s a deontological low point when Django Unchained may be A cogent argument against slavery, and history isn’t; but That’s a filmic nostalgic revenge fantasy; we have to save A planet from ourselves with only The Poetics, and conflictual Arguably biological imperatives driving cleavage between The nation-states and free-floating transnationals in the way; We know more words than we can fathom wa