Wherever you live there are bound to be half a dozen regional bands that YOU feel strongly about, but which nobody else remembers. The musicians ended up doing wedding parties and the singers became real estate agents. It happens.
In Canada during the '80s and early '90s, we had a thriving (and very popular) music channel with strict Canadian Content guidelines...as a result, many regional acts gained national status and had their week of fame before fading out again. You won't hear these bands in nightclubs and their CDs are long out of print. But some of them are much beloved.
Here's a sampling of the long-forgotten Canadian bands that have fond memories of. Not all of them were good, necessarily, but they all had at least ONE hit song.
They were Canada's hard-rockin', somewhat gloomy, altogether sexy answer to...well, nobody really, because they had a unique set of strengths and flaws.
All the musicians were top-notch, but they tended to suffer from tinny overproduction. Maria Del Mar's voice was unique and perfect, but her lyrics were sometimes embarrassingly bad. She was the sexiest woman alive, but her persona was a tad TOO aggressive.
The few videos they had on YouTube appear to be gone, but here's a "tribute" with pictures and soundclips:
Unable to find more than fleeting fame and suffering from a REALLY bad final album ("Wildseed"), they disbanded. Maria Del Mar still performs occasionally in Toronto (but never when I can find out in advance). Bassist Mark Storm suffered a truly bizarre and unexplained death.
Cheesy wanna-be pop stars who just might have made it...but didn't. Their songs were slick and radio friendly. I can't imagine what held them back.
One of those guys who was always lurking around the music circles but you rarely ever noticed...but I absolutely LOVED his "Lot of Talk" video which, sadly, is not on YouTube. Sorry
Producer wonderkind with only one album to his name...but what an album! Ditto the lack of YouTube exposure for his great "Walk Don't Run" song and video. Someday I'll have to properly digitize all those videos...
Sons of Freedom
They were alternative radio darlings with a brilliantly sharp, twangy, wall of sound approach. Guitarist Don Harrison later worked with Skinny Puppy and Lee Aaron. Apparently the lead singer was a jerk, but he had an endearing speech defect.
We didn't do gimmick-groups very well this side of the border, but Tu were a definite exception: identical twin sisters with velcro-style hair, so much sugar in their bubblegum pop that it almost made you sick. Almost.
Their wikipedia page still says that their names were Amanda and Cassandra, but my aunt attended their wedding many years ago, so let me give you the inside scoop: their REAL names were Rena and Pena.
Sometimes, changing your name is a GOOD idea.
Ethereal vocals, minimalist dub-style loops, beautiful ambiance...their show was one of the best I've ever seen: just three people on stage gently rocking forwards and backwards.
I don't think they ever actually MADE a video.
Long-gone Curve-style gothers. They only ever released two EPs, but we were CONSTANTLY being teased about a full-length album called "The Hanged Man." It never happened. They made at least one video (for "Revenge") but it's obscure and probably long gone.
According to a somewhat reliable source, lead singer "Madame Quattorze" went loopy.
Sort of electronic/psychedelic/goth-rock, they'd pop up as openers or headliners now and then but never struck it big. Their sound was erratic and never seemed to fit very well together, but when they clicked ("Crush") they were sublime.
I still cherish a cassette of instrumentals that I bought from band member Steve Faris...if only they'd kept going in that direction!
Achieved fleeting fame after their music was in Highway 61 (the wonderful "Mr. Skin"), they released only an EP and a quite-good record, neither of which was even remotely promoted. Big on college radio but they just dropped out of sight.
Her debut "Bike" was an odd hit but she never managed to follow it up. I suspect that she suffered "lack of direction" syndrome, maybe exacerbated by producers who didn't know if she was Tracy Chapman or Jane Siberry.
Three women from Vancouver, only semi-competent at playing their instruments, took the punk DIY attitude and mixed it with tons of cute...creating a genre of music dubbed "cuddlecore," which is apparently now known as "twee-pop."
They were perfectly marketed by their label and it seemed like they were constantly touring. Of all these bands they are perhaps the most affectionately remembered, and here's their video for "My Chinchilla."
They rode the Chili Peppers "funky wave" but made it their own, mixing in live samples and a goofy sense of humour. Despite their silliness, however, they were almost preachy with social consciousness, but that's sort of what you expected in the early '90s.
I saw them live at The Volcano and they were amazingly tight, complete with Devo-esque uniforms and an En Vogue breakdown.
Gogh Van Go
The band members sadly decided that their FAMILY was more important than their MUSIC (silly!), but they still managed to put out two albums of perfect pop/electronic/rock. It wasn't ALL good...but most of it was.
I'm pleased to be able to present a video for my favourite Gogh Van Go song, "Call It Romance." I LOVE these lyrics.
Sucking Chest Wound
Obviously they win the award for "best band name," they were a bizarre collective of Negativland-ish sample mashers...and they're still in action!
Their song "Mary Dear" was a college DJ staple. While you watch them perform live, I'm going to see if their CDs are still on sale...
Reclusive, bizarre, wonderful. Her albums were a strange mix of conventional folk and yodel-screaming fury, a style that was personal and all her own. NOT to be confused with TRISHA Yearwood, of course.