Classic Rock Canadian Style (Part 2)

classic2[See Part 1]
Here’s some more, moving into slightly harder rockier territory…

Thundermug– “Africa” (1972)
So, what is a “thundermug”? It’s apparently another term for toilet.  This Thundermug, however, was formed when some high school friends in London, ON started a band called Pink Orange.  A name change (I kinda like “Pink Orange”, myself) and a graduation to the Toronto bar circuit followed. Their first album (from whence comes “Africa”) was co-produced by Terry Brown, who went on to produce all of Rush’s albums till the mid 80’s (see, as I said in Part 1 – every band seems to have a Rush connection during this time period). “Africa” is noted for the best kazoo solo in classic rock. Yes, it is also the only kazoo solo in classic rock. Thundermug drifted apart in the late 70’s, but reunited in 1991 for a few albums, only to formally disband in 2001.

FM– “Phasors on Stun” (1977)
This Toronto progressive rock group featured electric mandolinist Nash The Slash. By the time the uncharacteristically radio-friendly “Phasors on Stun” (b-side “Slaughter in Robot Village”) became a successful single, Nash had left and was replaced by violinist/mandolinist Ben Mink – who would later play as kd lang’s sideman…and also on the Rush song “Losing It”. Still a band without a guitarist (not that a guitarist was required), FM recorded a couple of additional albums, but with the near death of prog-rock in the 1980’s, the band dissolved, though there were some reunion concerts with original member Slash in years after. Founder Cameron Hawkins is reportedly working on a new FM album with a new band lineup.

Max Webster– “Paradise Skies” (1979)
Sarnia, Ontario’s Max Webster (the band name was picked out of a phone book) built a strong following in Canada throughout the 1970’s, and had close ties with supergroup Rush, including a team-up on Max Webster’s song “Battlescar”.  Their 1979 album A Million Vacations yielded “Paradise Skies” and three other singles, but band leader Kim Mitchell resigned in 1981. He went on to a semi-successful solo career, notable for the 1980’s hits “Go For a Soda” and “Patio Lanterns”.  He’s been a DJ on Toronto classic rock radio station Q107 for quite a few years now.

Teenage Head– “Let’s Shake” (1980)
Teenage Head (from Hamilton, ON) took their name from a Flaming Groovies song title. With a reputation as a wild live band and with the release of Frantic City, which included “Let’s Shake”, they sold out 12,000 seat capacity Ontario Place Forum in 1981. A riot ensued during the performance by the hundreds left outside the gates, and in the Forum by dozens of fans rushing the stage. It put a temporary end to rock concerts at Ontario Place and put the band on the front page of every Canadian newspaper the next day. Soon after, guitarist Gord Lewis was in a car accident, putting him out of commission for a few months. The setback was enough for the band to lose momentum and hype, yet they remained a cult favorite in Ontario. Still occasionally performing, with a new lead singer, as original vocalist Frankie Venom died of cancer a few years ago.


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