Tom Cochrane, whether on his own or with Red Rider, has long been an underrated and overlooked rocker-poet-folkie. It was a funny thing when I did a little research about Tom to fill in the gaps of my knowledge about him. Canadian web sites are chock full of information and no wonder as he is a premiere Canadian artist. Check out any US based web sites and he barely garners a short paragraph. For example Rolling Stone had this to say.
For U.S. audiences, singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane's career can be summarized in four words: "Life is a Highway." In his native Canada, however, he's parlayed his brand of radio-ready, Bob Seger-meets-Bryan Adams heartland rock into a lasting career. His crafty songs continue to fill a void for people who like their music uncomplicated and to-the-point.
I would rather listen to Tom Cochrane over Bryan Adams or Bob Seger at any time because Tom is a fine musician and a great humanitarian and that short little paragraph doesn't even come close to explaining the scope of his music. One of the things I found interesting is that he actually released his first solo album in 1974, way before the Red Rider years. Then he went to Los Angeles where he got a line on writing theme music for the Happy Hooker, Xavier Hollander, movie My Pleasure Is My Business. After that he drove a taxi in Toronto and then landed a job on a Carribean cruise liner. Eventually one night he walked into the El Mocambo club in Toronto and met a group called Red Rider and he auditioned and got the job. In 1990 Red Rider was officially history and as research and new inspiration, Cochrane took his family to West Africa on a fact finding mission in 1990 for the famine relief organization World Vision -- he would make two more trips just like it to raise awareness and money. That experience, dealing with the starving masses, helped shape his next album - 'Mad Mad World' - and specifically it's international hit single "Life Is A Highway".
It's really too bad Tom has never got more exposure in the states other than the overplayed Life is a Highway. Songs like Stonecutter's Arms, No Regrets and Big League really give you a better idea of what Tom's music is all about. Folks just don't know whats they is missing. A good starting point to explore more of Tom's music is the 2002 release Trapeze which is a 2 disc overview of his career. The first disc covers his Red Rider days and the second disc covers his solo work and every single cut is a gem and really is essential music for any fan of rock n roll.