Music HistoryOngoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 835: Revisiting CanRock bands of the 90s, part 2

Before 1971, there really wasn’t much of a Canadian music industry. Sure, there were record labels, recording studios, promoters, and agents but overall, we lacked the resources to be a first-world music power.

Canada was a backwater, a place where the big labels had branch offices. Anyone who wanted to make it big in music had to leave the country, which usually meant bolting for the United States.

But then came the CRTC’s Canadian content laws in January 1971. Overnight, it became law that Canadian radio stations had to devote a minimum of 30% of their playlists to Canadian artists. This created an artificial demand what a lot of people didn’t give a rat’s ass about. There was much screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst broadcasters.

But the law was the law and this new demand needed to be serviced. Slowly, a modern music industry infrastructure began to take shape. Homegrown record labels. More recording studios. More promoters and agents and managers.

A domestic star system began to emerge. Canadians started buying more music by Canadian artists. And some of the artists who would have normally given up or bolted for the US found themselves making a decent living staying Canada.

It took about 20 years for our music industry to reach something approaching maturity. And by the time we got to the 1990s, there was a sense that our best could compete with anyone in the world.

That’s when everything exploded. Canadian Generation Xers not only embraced the alt-rock that was rising from the US–grunge, industrial, many flavours of punk, whatever–but also the homegrown stuff. Walking into a record store in, say, 1995, meant being confronted by racks and racks of CDs from Canadian artists right up front. People were mad for it.

Some of those acts from the 90s are still with us in one form or another. Others have fallen off the radar. But that doesn’t mean we can’t track them down.  Here is the second half of our remembrance of some great CanRock bands of the 90s.

Songs from this show:

I Mother Earth, Not Quite Sonic

Doughboys, Shine

Rusty, Wake Me

Rymes with Orange, Toy Train

Pure, Blast

Grapes of Wrath, All the Things I Wasn’t

Econoline Crush, All That You Are

Rheostatics, Claire

Treble Charger, Red

Here’s a playlist of the above compiled by Eric Wilhite.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

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.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 835: Revisiting CanRock bands of the 90s, part 2

  • add the following essentials

    Copyright “Radio”
    The Gandharvas “First Day of Spring”
    Esthero “Heaven Sent”
    The Super Friendz “Karate Man”
    Bran Van 3000 “Drinking In L.A.”
    Jale “Not Happy”
    Joydrop “Beautiful”
    Eric’s Trip “Belong”


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