Skip to main content

Happy Canada Day and Happy Independence Day!


Happy Canada Day and Happy Independence Day!


To celebrate these birthdays, I will be listing some of the well-known groups with both American and Canadian members.

The Band

As good a place to start as any, The Band is known for classics like "The Weight". Levon Helm, who played drums and sang lead on many songs, was the only American born member. The others were Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson. They produced many great songs such as "Up On Cripple Creek" and "Stage Fright". They also have a song about the Civil War that has gone under the radar of recent protests and bans, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

As we know, the American rocker Ronnie Hawkins with his Hawks were the genesis of The Band. Post The Band, he hired Canadian Domenic Troiano, who played guitar with Ronnie as part of Robbie Lane & The Disciples. Troiano later worked with The Guess Who. Domenic wrote "We All Need Love" with lead vocals by Canadian Roy Kenner who, with Troiano, were in the Joe Walsh led band 'The James Gang' from 1971-73.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire was founded while American Win Butler was attending McGill University in Montreal. With his younger brother, William Butler, the other core members are his wife, RĂ©gine Chassagne (a Montreal native) and Canadians Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara. This Indie band scored three #1 albums in Canada, two in the US and topped many charts around the world. They are consistently rated as one of the top Rock Bands by all major sources such as Rolling Stone Magazine, Billboard, and Q from the UK. Their song "Black Mirror" from the album Neon Bible is said to have inspired the TV series of the same name. David Bowie, a fan of Arcade Fire, worked on an EP with the band in 2005.

Steppenwolf

The bandleader John Kay (Joachim Fritz Krauledat) was born in Germany in 1944 during the Second World War. His father was killed before his birth and his mother fled with John to live in Canada and later Buffalo, NY. He formed Steppenwolf in Los Angeles after his Canadian-based group, The Sparrows, broke up in 1967. Steppenwolf included Canadians Goldy McJohn and Mars Bonfire (Jerry Edmonton), both from The Sparrows, as well as LA-based Michael Monarch and Rushton Moreve. They sold over 25 million records in their short career, producing classic songs such as "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Born to be Wild" in 1968 and "Rock Me" in 1969.

Blood Sweat and Tears

Initially, Blood Sweat and Tears (BS&T) was an all-American and almost all-New York City outfit, but after Al Kooper and a couple others left, they recruited Canadian David Clayton Thomas on a tip from Judy Collins. It turned out pretty well for the band as Thomas’ dynamic lead vocals propelled their next album to win a Grammy Award (beating out the Beatles Abbey Road). The three released singles from the album Blood Sweat and Tears all reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100.  "Spinning Wheel" was written by Clayton Thomas and the other two were cover songs. "When I Die" was written and recorded by Laura Nyro and "You've Made Me So Very Happy" was written by Berry Gordy, Jr., Brenda Holloway, Patrice Holloway and Frank Wilson (first recorded by Brenda Holloway in 1967). While the next album, Blood Sweat and Tears 3, had some great songs, it did not match the success of their previous work and the band would undergo many departures and reunions over the years with none of the original members remaining. 

The Mamas and the Papas

This band is not characterized as an American/Canadian outfit but one of the four is indeed Canadian. Denny Doherty was from Halifax, Nova Scotia and had struck up a friendship with Cass Elliot. When they met John Phillips and his wife Michelle, the four formed one of the most successful Folk-Rock bands ever, selling over 40 million records.  Almost everyone knows many of their hit songs like "California Dreamin'", "Monday Monday" and their cover of The Shirelles hit song "Dedicated to the One I Love" .

 The Lovin' Spoonful 

The Spoonful were John Sebastian, Zal Yanovsky, Jan Carl and Steve Boone. This is another band who aren’t considered to be American/Canadian, but original member Zal Yanovsky (who had played in the Halifax III with the above mentioned Denny Doherty) was from Toronto. As lead guitarist, Yanovsky was a self-taught wizard. Sebastian said, "He could play like Elmore James, he could play like Floyd Cramer, he could play like Chuck Berry". Yanovsky was key in producing their unique sound that would influence the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys and - believe it or not - they were the initial pick of the producers from 'The Monkees'.  Their hits included "Do You Believe in Magic", "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" and "Summer in the City".

 Black Dub

This band includes Americans Daryl Johnson and Brian Blade, Belgian Trixie Whitley and Canadian Daniel Lanois. "Believe In You", like all their songs, was written by Lanois. While they did not reach major commercial success, Black Dub created high quality music. If you have not heard of Daniel Lanois, he is an amazing talent and an 11-time Grammy winner. He produced U2's The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby as well as works for Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, The Spoons and Neil Young among others.

 Neil Young

Young is, of course, not a band but being Canadian, he has made every group he has been in an international one. He was in Buffalo Springfield with Americans Stephen Stills and Richie Furay who had the hit song "For What It's Worth".  He teamed up with Stephen Stills in the band Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young which produced the songs "Teach Your Children" and "Ohio". Prior to this, he was in the Canadian-based group The Mynah Birds, which included American Funk pioneer Rick James. He also spent time in Crazy Horse with Americans Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina and later used them while recording several albums, including the now Bruce Springsteen E Street Band guitarist and keyboard player Nils Lofgren.

References

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it's not tracking in terms of anyone's identity.  Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner.

Edited by Richelle Dafoe


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

One Hit Wonders (not!)

One Hit Wonders (not!)

Yesterday (Sept. 26) was the 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road, the Beatles last recording session together and the second last album before Let it Be was issued May 8, 1970. And also Happy belated One Hit Wonder Day! (Sept. 25th) so I thought it would make a good blog topic.


The simplest definition I found is from music journalist Wayne Jancik "an act that has won a position on a national, pop, Top 40 record chart just once." This from the 'The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders' (1998). So we aren't talking one #1 hit. It's not a term I like as it implies (and some truth to that) these artists have had just a brief moment in the spotlight, perhaps undeservedly so and then fallen off the music map. I know other and deeper definitions are a bit more broad and go beyond the absolute single hit idea. They also consider many artists that have still maintained a quality career and just not reproduced another 'top 40 hit' song and or ma…

Old Country New Country

Old Country/New Country


What exactly I am about to attempt to demonstrate I confess I'm not 100% certain, but what I do know is that there has been a bit of a downward sliding scale regarding the enduring quality of mainstream Country Music songs. Apologies in advance for rambling and ranting at various points. This is not a history of Country Music but my opinion on the current state of things in general with the genre.

It's murky waters that I'm swimming in here as there is an evolution involved in any music genre so direct comparisons are perhaps inappropriate. I am somewhat aware of the influence the so called Country Music "establishment" has had on this evolution. One need only look at examples like Taylor Swift, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks and others who were criticized and in some cases "shunned" for their unconventional approaches who are now celebrated as part of that same 'establishment'. So there is some hypocrisy at play in my op…

Sweet Soul Music

Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley co-wrote this song with Otis Redding and it's a tribute to some of the early greats of Soul Music. The song's melody (and words for that matter) borrowed heavily from the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" and a subsequent lawsuit brought by A.W. Alexander who managed Cooke's songs after his untimely death added his name to the song credits. The resulting song however was a huge hit for Conley and it reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B Chart in 1967 and #7 in the UK where Soul Music was gaining popularity particularly amongst a subset of British youth. The lyrics reference the co-writer Otis Redding, James Brown and songs by The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, some of the key figures in early Soul Music. "Sweet Soul Music" covered 30 times, The Jam (1977).

Soul music is a fusion of R&B, Gospel and Jazz. Known generally for it's more upbeat tempo it's fun to listen to and great for …

Rock artists sing the Blues

Rock artists sing the Blues

I have talked about this frequently throughout my posts but more particularly in the series on the Delta Blues and the History of R&R parts 1-4. Truth be told, most of the greatests 'Rock' artists owe much of their inspiration to the Blues. Rock bands and solo artists have cut many sides early and throughout their careers of blues songs. Thanks to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley who were obviously very well known and successful, their covers of some of the great blues songs served as a conduit and exposed them to artists and listeners alike. Here are some 'Blues' that inspired Rock artists, a few of these songs are more well known than others.


Confessin' the Blues by The Rolling Stones was recorded  June 11, 1964 and released on a 7" record of five songs on August 14. Written by Walter Brown (vocals) and Jay McShann (piano and bandleader) originally released in June of 1941. Covered about 35 times including Chuck Berr…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #76-100

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #76-100

Ok here is the last of my list, I could go on and as a matter of fact I will, just not with another set of 25 plus "to infinity and beyond!" I have to say it was easy to come up with more songs as this final list started at 43. But it was very difficult to decide which ones would make the final cut, so these last 25 songs became a list with a number of great ones left for another day.




76. "Flip Flop and Fly" is a song by the same collection that brought us the classic "Shake Rattle and Roll" written by Jesse Stone (credited to his pseudonym Charles E. Calhoun) and Lou Willie Turner, sung by Big Joe Turner (1955). The first time I heard this was at a club in my hometown I'll say around 1979 or so, performed by the talented Canadian Blues band Downchild Blues Band, later known as just 'Downchild'. Still the best cover for me although I've heard many fine ones out of some over 70 versions, this is a standa…

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #51-75

There has been a very positive response to the first two 'Greatest' posts. So the list continues and the songs become no less in their timeless quality compared to numbers one through fifty. I will post a #76-100 edition in the near future and that will be out of my system. But what if I do lists by genre, just thinking out loud, sorry but I will keep blogging on various topics as long as people continue to click.

51. "I Put a Spell on You" written and originally recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956. There have been many really good covers of this song but Nina Simone (1965) was just the second person to cover this song. I just can't get over how overlooked this artist was in her time, a high class version that turns the song on it's ear to give it an entirely different sound.


52. "Strange Fruit" was a courageous recording by the legendary Billie Holiday from 1939. A song written as a poem by another b…

Music Myths and other Silly Things

Music Myths and other Silly Things
Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and have been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.



Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.

1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.

2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With YouBob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyricsBob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in …

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs #1-25

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

Nothing quite grabs the attention more than a list of the greatest this or that, so at 85 posts about cover songs I thought it about time to get to it. As I advised with my other 'Greatest' posts we all have our favorites so anytime there is a list, something or someone 'great' gets left off. And the debate ensues, why is this and that at #11 not #4 and vise versa. My list therefore, shall be no different for it is not scientific but subjective and it is biased by my own tastes and exposure to music. Having said that it's hard for me to have missed many of the truly great cover songs of all time, indeed I think I've talked about quite a few:


"Respect" from the writer and original recording Otis Redding and a cover she made her own, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. More about the song and Aretha in these posts. Before I get to some cover's I've not mentioned, here are more songs from my previous issues that are …

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

Just recently I watched "Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice" on CNN and I don't mind saying I was moved to tears more than once. Narrated by Linda herself and including rare footage and photo's in addition to some great interviews, it paints a wonderful picture of a remarkable career. If you get the chance you really should watch it, but for now a mini bio and then to some of her music from that amazing voice.

Linda was born on July 15, 1946 and grew up on a ranch in Tucson Arizona in a prosperous family. Music was a very important part of daily life so her exposure and interest came very naturally. She began her career in the mid sixties joining the growing country/folk rock scene. Ronstadt met Bobby Kimmel at the University of Arizona and later met Kenny Edwards and they formed the band the 'Stone Poneys'. She would release some solo material starting in 1969 and then tour with Jackson Brown, Neil Young and the Doors. She began having hug…

Radiohead

Radiohead



When talking about the band I have to confess I'm out of my depth so I will tread lightly. We should however get right to their beginnings and major influence, that being the 'Talking Heads' and their namesake song "Radio Head". The band had been called 'On a Friday' but their record label requested they change it before signing a contract (with EMI records) in 1991.
Radiohead are one of the most successful and influential Rock bands since their debut album "Pablo Honey' (Jerky Boys) in February of 1993. All their songs are credited to the entire band Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway and Thom Yorke. And there's the 'sixth member' producer Nigel Godrich who's done all their albums since 1994. Their song "Creep" charted top 40 across the world and it's depressing tone eventually wore the band down to the point they stopped playing it live for a long period of time. The songs melo…