Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Rise Up:: CBC Documentary on Canadian Pop in the 1980s

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the local campus bar would air MuchMusic.  My friend Scott said it was because they could get the signal from the satellite dish and didn't have to pay for it.

CBC will be airing a documentary on Canadian 80s pop in a two part series premiering: Thursday September 10, 2009 & concluding on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 9 pm on CBC-TV.  I missed the documentary about 70s pop music in Canada, This Beat Goes On.

While I'm familiar with several of the artists and bands featured on the CBC page for Rise Up, I'm quite interested in learning more about pop music in Canada and I hope they go into francophone pop.  I do recall seeing this video on Muchmusic::

While I hate to admit it, in 1989 I was also watching VH-1, which was giving Daniel Lanois airtime::

It's always interesting finding out what my contemporaries were listening to in the 1980s.  I recall one friend being really into Bruce Springsteen and another into European disco like Kraftwerk.  Top 40 American pop sort of was off my radar and I wouldn't soften on my snobbish stance until the early 1990s.  Why?  Let's face it, dating in your 20s is rough, as you're still figuring out your adult self, but when you have impossible music standards, you just come across like an ass.  Plus, I've always had a weakness for a well crafted pop song.  

I'm pretty ignorant of Canadian indie.  Here's a quick overview.  One of these days I'll put all the indie pieces together, but it looks like Canadian indie really didn't start to flourish until the 1990s.  In 1985, I sort of had a thing for Jane Siberry.  It wasn't until recently I made the connection that it was Siberry's "One More Colour" being covered in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter::

Twitterversion:: This Thursday & next at 9PM {10 & 17 Sept.2009} #CBC airs #RiseUp, a documentary on #CanadianPop in the 1980s. @Prof_K

Song::  Mimi On The Beach - Jane Siberry


linnyqat said...

Thanks for the tip - I will definitely check it out. If I remember. Heh.

In the 80s and very early 90s, top 40 was all I knew. I had a couple of friends who were listening to The Smiths and The Cure and all those avant pop faggy Brits. I wondered how they heard about these bands, since there were only a couple radio stations in town and the choices were top 40, classical, talk or easy listening. And no internet back then. My friends had their sources, one of which was the late night CBC radio program, Brave New Waves.

When I moved to Toronto I became aware of how horribly provincial my musical collection was, and I set out to educate myself. First order: The Pixies. Everything grew from there.

Canadian pop in the 80s was great. Or, maybe it was really average, but it is now forever filed in my psyche as the nostalgia soundtrack.

I knew someone who worked as a personal assistant for Jane Siberry in the later 90s/early 00s. She was nuts. Did you know she changed her name to something akin to Prince's Glyph? She sold all her possessions and perhaps sees herself as something of a prophet. It's hard to say.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

It's funny, I was listening to stuff in the early & mid-1980s lamenting I missed getting in on the ground floor of stuff going on in 1977. Later, I would run into folks who pined for 1985.

I remember "alternative" radio & surfing the "import bins" at record stores, as well as magazine reviews. Alternative had a corporate-run station, KROQ, which I hated because of their playlists, but I'd listen. There was a San Diego station that broadcast from Tijuana, 91-X, but it was "seasonal" in its reception. They'd play stuff that was seemingly deeper in the catalogues than KROQ. There was KNAC in Long Beach before it went heavy metal, and other college stations were hard to get, KXLU & KUCI. I think living in a major media market made it easier to find music one liked in the "alternative morass." Plus, there were local video shows that would play cool stuff. I didn't have cable of my own until 1988/9, but if you watched enough MTV you'd see cool stuff here & there.

I recall when The Blow Monkeys went pop & had a hit "digging Your Scene," Spin said something along the lines of not being sure if the lead singer, Dr. Robert, was bi or just British. I've read that the 1980s was a time of identity crisis in Canadian music, which may be unfair. Radio throttles what gets through & Can Con doesn't ensure Can Cool. I've seen The Box savaged for its generic sound that seems to be from more of an American perspective::


I don't think they were being ironic there. I'm on the verge of going into Can Con more, but I'll hold off for another post I'm planning for ThickCulture.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

@ LinnyQat::Thanks for the PM heads-up on Chart & this:: Canadian Landmarks Immortalized In CBC Great Canadian Song Quest.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

Yes, I've heard Siberry went off the deep end. I can sure pick the crazies.

Officer Mazaltoff said...

Oh Mitsou! What beautiful babies we could've had. I had a huge crush on her when "Bye Bye Mon Cowboy" came out.

Perhaps because of our national identity crisis, which seemed to be at its highest point in the 80s, I never really paid attention to whether the bands I liked were Canadian or American. Much of what was coming out of Canada at that time didn't necessarily have a "Canadian" sound to it, though it could be argued that much of today's Canadian music doesn't necessarily sound "Canadian". I'm sure I still have my vinyl copy of Platinum Blonde's "Standing in the Dark" somewhere, though I'd always assumed they were British.

Because Canadian bands have always had this uphill struggle to get recognized, it always seemed to me that to be a Canadian band meant that you were indie. Some of the lesser known Canadian bands that I recall listening to near the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s were Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (they of the Kids in the Hall theme song fame, though the other material is just as good if not better), fellow instrumental rockers, Huevos Rancheros who I believe are still around, Furnaceface, Me Mom and Morgentaler, Eric's Trip, The Waltons, and Winnipeg's Polish-funksters Skingerbreadman.

Hopefully Rise Up does have a focus on francophone pop outside of Mitsou as I've started to get into it recently and finding some nice little jems out there (Malajube being an obvious one, but you should check out Putumayo's "Quebec" collection of songs. In particular Chloe Sainte-Marie's "Brûlots").

I'm just going through the link you have for the indie music scene here and find it somewhat funny that Rob Baker of the Hip mentions how he finds including "American place names...repulsive" given that their first full length album has the song "New Orleans is Sinking". I guess he forgot about that one.

Thanks for bringing the show to attention. Sadly, I won't be able to catch it as I cut my cable off a few weeks ago.

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

@BCP:: Great comment. Oh that Mitsou. I was going through a phase with francophone singers in the late 1980s. isabelle antena + vanessa paradis spring to mind. I just wish I remembered the stuff I saw on muchmusic back in the day. I remember thinking, "this québécois is interesting French." I'll have to check out that Putamayo. One of my presets is a francophone pop radio station in the 'Ront, but that does me little good here in Cali.

Growing up, I remember Canadian was often used as a differentiating label with certain bands. I remember Men without Hats were billed as Canadian + it was often Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams. I wonder if the 80s were just a bad time for pop music because the marketing got to the point of identifying + selling a generic sound for mass appeal, stripped of any localism or attachment to any "scene."

I'll have to check out the other bands you've mentioned but Skingerbreadman has the funk down.

I wish the CBC would stream this + The Beat Goes On.

Officer Mazaltoff said...

I just noticed, I believe it was on Spinner.ca, that CBC intends to release both Rise Up and Turn the Beat Around on DVD in the future.