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Skinny Puppy and Masetro Fresh Wes albums honoured with the 2023 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prizes

The Polaris Prize–the juried competition that seeks to name the best Canadian album of the year–has only been around for seventeen years. That means there’s a whole lot of Canadian music history that’s never been honoured in this way. To rectify that, we have the Slaight Family Polaris Prize. Each year, great albums from the pre-Polaris past for recognition. Two albums have received this honour in 2023.

The first is Bites, the 1985 debut from Vancouver’s Skinny Puppy. No one–and I mean NO ONE was making this sort of intense sample-heavy music back then. Bites went on to greatly inspire other artists into ultra-heavy music, including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Al Jourgensen of Ministry. Bites is a world landmark in the realm of industrial music.

The second is Symphony in Effect by Maestro Fresh Wes, the 1989 record widely credited as breaking hip-hop in Canada, especially with the song “Let Your Backbone Slide.” Again, great call.

For the record, here are all the other nominated heritage albums for 2023.

Beau Dommage — Beau Dommage
The Guess Who — American Woman
k-os — Exit
k.d. lang — Absolute Torch and Twang
Jean Leloup — Le dôme
Maestro Fresh Wes — Symphony In Effect
Sarah McLachlan — Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Plastikman — Consumed
Rap Essentials Volume One
Robbie Robertson — Robbie Robertson
Skinny Puppy — Bites
Spoons — Arias & Symphonies

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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