Library of Articles

  • Library: Articles

Top 10 Canadian Albums Of All Time Print-ready version
June 30, 2000

10. THE TRAGICALLY HIP Fully Completely 1993
Fully Completely for me is the definitive Hip album, bridging the blues-based earlier albums and the more introspective later albums. The swagger of "At The Hundredth Meridian," the punch of "Fully Completely," "Courage," "Locked In The Trunk Of A Car" and "Fifty Mission Cap" and the ballad gem "Wheat Kings" make this a consistently stellar, loaded collection from beginning to end. It's also a case of timing: this was the first TTH album that I fully, completely explored so it means the most to me. Just as U2's Joshua Tree documents a certain time in my life, so Fully Completely cannot be replaced in its impact. I related to the urgent tone in Gord's voice then, and I appreciate it best now. — Karen Pace, Canadian music cheerleader

9. SLOAN One Chord To Another 1996
Cognoscenti love to argue about who writes the best songs in Sloan. The debate is ongoing but this album marks a special time in the band's development for me as a listener. It's full of back-to-back hits as far as I'm concerned; each member's contribution is distinctive and equally powerful. That's what Sloan has come to represent to me: four dynamic individuals combining their musical smarts to form an incomparable supergroup. The performances on One Chord To Another are especially intimate, vulnerable and honest. But now that I have a public forum in which to tell it like it is, in my humble opinion, the best songwriter in Sloan is... Well, maybe some things are best left unsaid. — Kim Temple, Decoy

8. RUSH Moving Pictures 1981
Through a friend of a friend RJ Guha got invited to hang out at the house of Rush legend, Alex Lifeson. The then-18-year-old was wide-eyed, standing amidst the Junos and gold records of his hero. "I played the guitar he recorded 2112 with," says Guha, vice-president, Courage Artists and Touring. "It was a pretty influential moment." It would be Rush's Moving Pictures which would capture his musical attention however. "The first thing that struck me was the musicianship, the songs were great too," he says. "The musicality of the band was second to none — they were the ultimate progressive rock band," he says. "I don't think anyone could duplicate this anymore."

7. SARAH MCLACHLAN Fumbling Toward Ecstacy 1993
There are not many albums that are like a journey from beginning to end. This one is, and it's better than any female Canadian record to date for that; full of great pop sounds and innovative vocal styles. Not hard to understand, like say a Jane Siberry album. It caught the attention of listeners from various backgrounds, my goth friends loved it, while my mother was calling me asking about Sarah. Not one bad or boring skip-over track on the disc. And it has stood the test of time. I still bring it on every trip I take. It has become my standard airplane disc, if I die in a plane crash I want to be listening to this album. #151; Zoe Gemelli, Chart writer

6. THE LOWEST OF THE LOW Shakespeare...My Butt 1991
It's fairly well documented that Shakespeare... My Butt was one of the key albums that broke independent artists out of the perceived (no record deal=no chance of success) imbroglio. The fact that a four-piece rock combo could write intelligent, tuneful music — without having to be clownish to draw attention to themselves, and without the big corporate machine working that music — was a big step forward for the Canadian music industry. I saw the Low 99 times before they split, and sang with them three times... I sincerely apologize to all who saw those three shows. You may have wanted me dead, but I'd never felt more alive than onstage with Ron, Steve, John and Dave. — Mike McCann, entertainment producer, AOL Canada

5. RHEOSTATICS Melville 1991
It was the early days of EdgeFest and the Rheostatics were the headliners. So striking was their unique brand of Canadianna, that one mohawked punk rocker draped in the Canadian flag jumped onto the stage and ran around in an ecstatic homage to the band. Jeff Cohen, booker for the Horseshoe Tavern, knows that moment well because that punk was one of the regular listeners to Cohen's then radio show, Mods 'n' Rockers, on which he pleaded that anyone going to EdgeFest stay to watch the Rheostatics. That uniquely Canada Day moment no doubt wouldn't have had as effective a catalyst without the Rheos Melville record. "It's not about a song. It has a start and a finish," says Cohen. "I think it personifies Canadian life."

4. RHEOSTATICS Whale Music 1992
Whale Music shifts between rock, Brian Wilson-inspired pop, spoken word, country and even metal — sometimes within one song. The album is sometimes serious, sometimes silly, but never pretentious and never novelty. Due to these varying influences, it's impossible to pin down Whale Music stylistically. It's also impossible not to love it. There isn't a person I've played it for, regardless of their musical tastes, who hasn't been compelled by the album. It's got consistently beautiful arrangements, incredible playing, lush harmonies, poignant and moving lyrics, original sonic experimentations, many moments of pure fun, and of course, at the root of it all, brilliant songwriting. — Adam Harendorf, 14 Blue Records

3. SLOAN Twice Removed 1994
It was the height of grunge and although I've got a mullet-filled rocker past, I needed an escape from the non-stop guitar barrage of all these undead Seattlites. When Sloan's Twice Removed came out it represented the exact same reaction against grunge that I was feeling. The "People Of The Sky" bab-bab-bada-bas were the garlic necklace, the "Coax Me" jangle the crucifix and the "Snowsuit Sound" hand claps the stake in the heart of a sound that had become less about rebellion and more about harnessing the buying potential of a newly-empowered generation. Twice Removed was my introspective oasis from all of this, for which I'm forever grateful. — Aaron Brophy, Chart music editor

2. NEIL YOUNG Harvest 1972
As you can see, the kid from Winnipeg is all over this Top 50 chart. Harvest shows Neil at his height of commercial success. Not only did Harvest garner the number one spot on Billboard Album Chart and produced two top 30 singles, "Heart Of Gold" and "Old Man," it also contains one of his most affecting and endearing songs from his 35 + years of material, "The Needle And The Damage Done" (which comes in at #15 on Chart's Top 50 Songs), a song that recounts a close friend of Young's harrowing experience with drug use. — Edward Skira, Chart publisher

1. JONI MITCHELL Blue 1971
It wasn't outright shock that registered on the faces of Chart editors when the final results were tabulated, but more of a mild, and not altogether unwelcome, surprise. Joni Mitchell is someone who, for the most part, has been out of the public eye and consciousness for a number of years now, but that her 1971 album Blue was voted the number one Canadian album of all time is a testament to the fact she's created a work of art that's had a deep, lasting and profound effect on anyone who's heard this magnificent record.

Called "an essential product of the singer-songwriter era" in the Virgin Encyclopedia of Music, Blue was more than just peace songs from another coffeehouse malcontent. This was bleak music that struck the very heart of those who listened.

"The emotional content plus the music makes for a magical listen," says Sue Hutton, of Rhea's Obsession. "I could sing every single song off the top of my head. Every song is great."

Mitchell's influence on the music world cannot be understated, says Hutton. "Every night I hear someone who's trying to emulate her. I grew up trying to emulate her."

Chart writer Ryan Watson can see and hear the impact of Blue everywhere as well.

"Sarah McLachlan is pretty obvious, Tori Amos as well. I've just heard the Travis cover of 'River' and that makes a lot of sense too," he says.

But it's the songs on Blue, not their attendant impact, that truly define this record.

"When I first got it, it just connected — it's just the voice. It's depressing," says Sujinder Juneda, of Beggar's Banquet. Of the song "Blue" he says, "Blue. That first word is just so depressing. But say you're in a bad mood, it just brings you up as well."

Watson adds, "I think 'River,' 'Blue' and 'A Case Of You' are the real core because they're the most intimate and honest songs. That's where you get to the real heart."

Still, Blue's deepest impact is probably felt in the depth to which it resonates with the listener, the feelings it evokes and the emotions it inspires.

"It used to bug me that Joni sang about California so much, until I found myself listening to Blue on headphones while walking through Santa Cruz redwoods and learning more about myself and where I came from than from anything I heard when sitting at home," says Michael Barclay, a writer with Eye magazine. "Blue transcends all time, barriers and borders and speaks to anyone who's ever been 20 years old, in love, or far away from home and trying to find their place in the world."

This article has been viewed 2,005 times since being added on September 13, 2003.

Copyright protected material on this website is used in accordance with 'Fair Use', for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s). Please read Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement.

Comments on Top 10 Canadian Albums Of All Time

Comment using your Facebook profile, or by registering at this site.

You must be registered and log in to add a permanently indexed comment.