Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another edition of Canadiana

Today in Music History:

In 1973 Slade hits #1 in the UK with "Merry Christmas Everybody." It will remain at #1 for five weeks and becomes the group's biggest single, recharting every year between 1981-6.
harlequinHarlequin was a Canadian rock band that formed in Winnipeg in 1975 and lasted until the mid 1980s.
The original members of Harlequin were vocalist George Belanger, guitarist Glen Willows, keyboard player Gary Golden, drummer David Budzak and bassist Ralph James. Harlequin signed with Epic Records in 1979 and had a string of hit singles in Canada.

Their debut album, VICTIM OF A SONG was produced by Jack Douglas, who'd previously worked with the likes of Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Aerosmith and John Lennon. Released that fall, it immediately made an impression with both the critics and the fans alike. "Sweet Things In Life" and "You Are The Light" both became instant radio staples across the country and Harlequin was rewarded with a debut gold record. Backed by the solid writing of other tracks like "Turn Around" and their first single "Survive", the band was heralded as one of the country's most promising new groups.

Following a year long tour which saw them open for such heavyweights as April Wine & BTO, they returned to the studios for LOVE CRIMES, released in the summer of 1980. Again, the airwaves were filled with the tight harmonies and catchy rhythms of the singles "Innocence" and "Thinking Of You". After Hannah left to join Streetheart in 1980, Harlequin came back with CRIMES OF PASSION later that year. Fuelled by new guitarist Glen Willows, tracks like the singles "Innocence", "Take This Heart" and "Thinking Of You" put to rest any fears the group couldn't function through problems like personnel changes. The band was now taking its straight forward rock and roll message all across Canada, and into the rest of the world.

It would be nearly two full years before their third record, ONE FALSE MOVE would hit the shelves. By this time Denton Young had replaced Budzak on drums. Back for his third consecutive stint behind the controls was Douglas and the fans' wait was justified by what many considered to be their best effort yet. "I Did It For Love", "Superstitious Feeling" and the ballad "Heart Gone Cold" pushed them to the elite status of only having three records, but all going gold.

They released a self-titled album in '85 which featured new keyboardist John White and John Hannah, ex of Streetheart, returning on guitars. "Take This Heart" was featured as the lead track and first single. Their second life was short-lived however, as the band called it quits shortly after the end of a North American tour which saw them share the stage with the likes of Loverboy and Streetheart. By 1986 the rigors of the road had taken their toll on the band, and they called it quits later that year.

Belanger and company all but disappeared until the mid 90's, when the advent of the 'classic rock' weekend festival brought them back to the stage. They currently still make their rounds around the country, playing to packed houses and outdoor concerts. They released a new album entitled HARLEQUIN II in 2005, which was met by rave reviews. "Sometimes I Feel", "Let Me In" and "Trust The One" have been heralded as some of the best new rock in years.

I always wondered why I had never heard of this band as a young un as they put forth some solid pop/rock, rivalling most of anything that was going on in the states at that time. Hopefully this post will introduce this band to a few folks outside of Canada.

Innocence by Harlequin
Thinking of You by Harlequin (rs)

Funny Toon