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
Rusty, Wake Me
Rymes with Orange, Toy Train
Grapes of Wrath, All the Things I Wasn’t
Econoline Crush, All That You Are
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:
- 102.1 The Edge/Toronto – Sunday night at 7
- Live 88-5/Ottawa
- 107.5 Dave-FM/Kitchener
- FM96/London – Sunday night at 7, Monday night at 11
- Power 97/Winnipeg (Sunday nights at 11)
- Rock 97.7/Grand Prairie – Sunday nights at 6.
- Sonic 102.9/Edmonton
- The Zone/Victoria
- The Fox/Vancouver
- Live 105/Halifax
- WAPS/WKTL The Summit/Arkon, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown The show runs at 11 am Sunday. This, by the way, is a great option for American listeners who are prevented from listening to the show live because of geo-blocking,
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.