Posts Tagged ‘Robbie Robertson’

Halloween Playlist

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

Well folks, we’ve already got one autumn holiday under our belts – along with several pounds of turkey and a few thick slices of pumpkin pie. But hold on, because the celebrations aren’t over quite yet. You may have thought it was finally safe to put away the decorative gourds, but no, not so fast! You might as well keep ’em out, because it’s time to carve them into demonic semblances of our worst Thanksgiving table guests, which is to say that it’s almost Halloween. Call it the dessert course to Thanksgiving and give these tunes a spin to help get you in the spirit.


Well, well, what do we have here? It’s CBC Radio 2’s Rich Terfry (a.k.a. Buck 65) and a whole lot of zombies – many of whom appear to be played by Terfry himself. As do the zombie killers. As do the generals and news anchors. This tune has taken a turn for the terrifying, indeed!



We’ve survived the zombies, so how about we check in with Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Robbie Robertson to see how we do up against the ghosts? This track comes from Robertson’s 1994 album, Music for the Native Americans, which was really his first foray into writing songs inspired specifically by his Mohawk heritage. Suffice it to say that this song isn’t so much about the sort of ghosts that go “boo,” but is more about the historic oppression of indigenous cultures in North America, which is really the more frightening of the two concepts.



Alright, let’s lighten things up – and what better way to do so than with the musical work of Mr. Will “Big Willie Style” Smith? This track, which bears a striking resemblance to a certain TV theme song, joins a long list of tunes that pay tribute to that king of 1980s horror Freddy Krueger. If you grew up in the ’80s, this will probably still give you the shivers (the vocal presence of Will Smith notwithstanding).



Now let’s check back in with our Canadian Music Hall of Fame alumni. This little ditty comes from the CMHF’s 2001 inductee, Bruce Cockburn, and while it’s not exactly “scary” per se (that is, there’s no mention of zombies or ghosts or the suffering of our country’s Aboriginal Peoples), it does have some pretty dark imagery, including these lines: “There’s howling in the factory yard/There’s pounding in my head/I’m swollen up with unshed tears/Bloated like the dead….” And yet Cockburn manages to make it all sound so sweet.



Last but not least, what’s a Halloween playlist without Michael Jackson’s macabre mega-hit? “Thriller” is a must-have contemporary classic and it really brings us full circle with our songs: right back to those irrepressible zombies. In fact, I think it’s a safe bet that this song may have been something of an inspiration for Buck 65’s zombie tribute – specifically his line that when it comes to zombies, “there’s very little information and no answers/One weird thing is that they’re excellent dancers.”

Hope these songs get you dancing, too. Happy Halloween!

This Week in Music History: September 22 to 28

Posted on: September 23rd, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

The Ugly Ducklings (left); Anne Murray (right)


It was the 1960s. Toronto was home to one of the most exciting music scenes on the planet. Every night of the week, the sounds of rock ’n’ roll, soul and folk music could be heard spilling out of the clubs in Yorkville and along the Yonge Street strip. Some of the biggest names in music called the city home over the course of that decade: early versions of The Band and Steppenwolf; solo performers such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell; and future members of The Mamas and The Papas, and The Lovin’ Spoonful – all of them future Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees.

Along with them were countless other bands, from chart-topping stars to local kids playing high school dances.

“It’s a wonder there are any kids left to listen to music in this town,” journalist Bruce Lawson wrote in the Globe and Mail, “they’re all turning to do-it-yourself rock… forming part-time groups like locusts form swarms.”

Bruce Palmer, who would eventually head to Los Angeles and become famous as the bassist for Buffalo Springfield, called Toronto “the most hard-rocking city of its time.”

The city, in fact, developed its own distinct flavour of rock ’n’ roll: what they called “The Toronto Sound.” It was a fuzzy and raucous R&B that many found hard to pin down.

“Ask them to describe it,” according to Lawson, “and they shrug their shoulders, shuffle their feet and say it’s not as relaxed as Nashville; not as up tempo as New York or Detroit; a solid natural beat, something like the Coast. But different.”

Almost everyone did agree, though, that the sound had been deeply influenced by Robbie Robertson, who made his name with his raunchy guitar work on the high school dance circuit before heading to Yonge Street and joining the band that would eventually become The Band.

It was during this week in 1966 that the Toronto Sound had its biggest showcase. For 14 straight hours, 14 of the best rock ’n’ roll bands in the city took the stage at Maple Leaf Gardens. The Ugly Ducklings. The Paupers. Luke and The Apostles. The Big Town Boys. Little Ceasar and The Consuls. Bobby Kris and The Imperials. A song from every set was broadcast to listeners on CHUM Radio, while some of the most influential record producers in the business came to see it all in person. Maybe most important of all: 16,000 screaming fans crowded the city’s biggest hockey arena – more than had come to see The Dave Clark Five. Or The Beach Boys. Or The Rolling Stones.




It wasn’t Anne Murray who wrote it. It was another Canadian: Gene MacLellan, a singer-songwriter from Prince Edward Island who was a familiar face on the CBC. His work would be covered by legends such as Bing Crosby, Joan Baez and even Elvis Presley. But it was Anne Murray, who would be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1993, who made the most famous version of his most famous song. It was during this week in 1970 that “Snowbird” peaked in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts.


This Week In Music History: July 22 to 28

Posted on: July 23rd, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

Little Caesar & The Consuls Hit The Charts

Little Caesar & The Consuls were one of Canada’s very first rock ’n’ roll bands. They formed in Toronto all the way back in 1957 and quickly made a name for themselves on the high school dance circuit. That was thanks in part to their teenage guitar phenom, Robbie Robertson. His distinctive, raunchy playing would have a profound influence on the young musicians who saw him perform at their school dances in those early days – and it’s Robertson, more than anyone else, who gets credit for developing the gritty “Toronto Sound” that swept through the city in the 1960s. For the next decade, Yorkville and the Yonge Street strip would be full of guitarists trying to sound like him.

Robertson wasn’t with Little Caesar & The Consuls for very long, though. He would soon join another one of the city’s most popular early rock acts: Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks. A few years later – after leaving Hawkins, meeting Bob Dylan and re-naming themselves The Band – the former Hawks would become one of the most famous rock groups on Earth. They were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Even without Robertson, Little Caesar & The Consuls made a mark on the Canadian music scene. They had a string of hits, including a cover of “(My Girl) Sloopy,” which was in the top 10 of the CHUM Chart during this week in 1965.


“Takin’ Care of Business” in the Summer of ’74

Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) formed more than 40 years ago, in the wake of Randy Bachman’s departure from The Guess Who. Decades later, the band’s biggest hit is still a staple of radio station playlists and summer barbecues all over the country. But it was never more popular than it was during this week in 1974. That’s when “Takin’ Care of Business” sat atop the CHUM Chart.

The song would spend 15 weeks on the chart and become one of the defining songs of the summer of 1974, sharing the airwaves with other new hits such as “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton, “Waterloo” by ABBA, “Band on the Run” by Wings and “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. Even The Guess Who got in on the act with “Clap for the Wolfman.”

It actually could have been two hits for The Guess Who, as Bachman originally wrote “Takin’ Care of Business” for them. It was called “White Collar Worker” back then and it had a different chorus. Burton Cummings refused to record it, though, dismissing it as a ripoff of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer.” After Bachman left the band and started BTO he made some changes to the song – including a new, catchier chorus – and turned it into a No. 1 hit.

Bachman was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as a member of The Guess Who in 1987.


The Birth of Maureen Forrester

On July 25, 1930, one of Canada’s greatest opera singers was born. Maureen Forrester grew up in Montreal, the daughter of British immigrants. They weren’t a rich family; she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 13 in order to get a job. But through it all, she kept singing: in choirs, in church and eventually on the stage.

By the time Forrester was in her mid-20s, she was ready to make her concert debut. It came in 1957 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of one of the most revered conductors of the 20th century: Otto Klemperer. Before long, Forrester had established herself as one of the most talented contraltos in the world. She sang on five different continents by the end of her career, which lasted for decades.

Still, Canada always had a special place in her heart. Forrester spent years serving as the chair of the Canada Council for the Arts and she made sure to perform work by Canadian composers, bringing their talent to the attention of the rest of the world. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1967, the very first year that honour was created, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1990.

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