Bob’s All Time Favourite Canadian Top Twenty

After five long columns about Laurel Canyon and the legendary Artists who toked, coked, and stroked their way to fame and fortune in the mythic hills of Hollywood and its Sunset Strip playground, I needed to cleanse my palate and write about some Artists and music that hard-scrabbled its way onto my musical landscape from all over my adopted Country, and did so without the benefit of geographic location and timing, but with their ear-worm worthiness and musical uniqueness and skills. Some were hits, and most were not, but in my personal jukebox, these are all worthy of Number One.

And yes …that was one of the longest Run In Sentences I have written in years. Felt good ….

Like all Top Twenty Charts, this one could easily change positions, or some songs be replaced with others that almost made the cut and surely would have had this been a top 30. Songs that resonate equally with me, like the Extras “Circular Impression”, Headpins “Don’t It Make You Feel Like Dancin'”, and Rueben Cherry’s “Angeline” and more are as embraceable as these 20. I’m sure your Top 20s are decidedly different, and I am looking forward to seeing yours in the Reply section down below. I know there will be plenty of Guess Who, Tragically Hip, and April Wine, but I am hoping some of you dig a little deeper and share some guilty pleasures or personal favourites some of us may not have heard. Regardless, music is Universal, taste is Personal, and Epstein didn’t kill himself ….

Editor’s Note – Do yourself a favour and click on the Wikipedia links and learn something new about our Musical Heritage. Well worth the effort.


  1. Nanette Workman

Another transplanted American and a Mega Star in Quebec, Paris, and other smart territories, Nanette is a Canadian Treasure unknown to most Canadians. Would she be a perfect fit for a duet with Samantha Fish or a trio with Sam and Bonnie Raitt? She sure would.

  1. Goddo

My Brother from another Mother. Mr. Godovitz is still plying the boards and making music as well as penning books, eating at every restaurant he can, and quickly becoming the Toronto Blue Jays biggest fan. This gem from Goddo’s self-titled 1977 album, not only stands the test of time, it is cinemagraphic to a fault and as Noir as a film from the ’40s. Atmospheric laid-back rock from one of Rock’s most interesting characters.

  1. The Diamonds

I was surprised to find out this vocal group was from Canada years after first hearing it on the radio in the ’50s in my home town of Stockton California. One of the Great Doo-Wop Classics, it still conjures up images of American Bandstand, Rec-room make-out parties, and uncomfortable, sweaty handed junior high sock hops.

Originally recorded by The Gladiolas, and written by member Maurice Williams (who went on to form Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs and pen the massive hit “Stay”), The Diamonds had the hit with the song and became one of the most played songs of 1957.

  1. Neil Young

This was a tough one. This could just as easily been Sugar Mountain, Down By the River, Helpless, Harvest Moon, or any number of songs Neil has penned and played over the years. Until I thought this top 2o out, I was unaware of just how much I love some of his music. The first guitar solo has always been a favourite. One 2-string figure slammed in time and as rock and roll as you can get. Simple, Smart in its Stupidity, Superb.

Neil survived Rick James, Buffalo Springfield, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Him.

MoFo is one tough bird ….

  1. Jann Arden

Talented, Bright, and Funny. The Trifecta of greatness as far as I’m concerned. This record kicked open the door to her career, and she is nowhere near done yet. Bravo, Ms. Arden.

  1. Moonquake

A flock of Montreal Bad Boys from all over the globe, they individually and collectively backed every major vedette to ever pick up an award in La Belle Province. Like all the other artists here, I have stories, but the stories about this bunch could land us all in jail.

This track is part Rolling Stones, part Haunted and Ugly Ducklings, and ALL Moonquake. Late nights at Thursdays, Maxwell’s, and Night Magic, plus all nighters on the road and in the booze cans. Crazy times, crazy guys.

John Hagopian, Jack Geisinger, and Derek Kendricks …none of them or Moonquake have a Wikipedia page. Smart boys …and it is probably for the best.

  1. Les Respectables

Eat your heart out, Rod Stewart. Another Quebec treasure whose discography is mostly in French. This track informs me that the rest of Canada missed out on a fantastic opportunity to embrace this band and their form of take no prisoners Southern Rock-fueled energy. The groove to this is infectious and demanding. Rock in the hands of Rockers.

Thanks to guitarist Gordie Johnson for producing this Anglo rocker.

  1. Bush

Dom. Roy Kenner. Whitey Glan. Hugh Sullivan. Prakash John. Wow. A-List players. A-List song. Good God, Ya’ll.

  1. Northern Pikes

Another Canadian Band that should have broken wider in more countries than Canada. This is just my favourite from their catalogue, which, like most of the artists in this top 20, is full of other cherries to pick, depending on your taste. Teenland has always sounded like the outline and theme song for a motion picture to me.

Still does.

  1. The Lincolns

Oh look! Prakash again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Far from it.

Mr. John is as good if not better, at putting bands together that are always better than everything else going on. If you haven’t heard him with his son, Jordan, do so as soon as you can. Again, pound for pound, more great music comes out of the Great White North per capita, than anywhere else on Earth. Ditto film and TV crews, Comedians, and Movie Stars. How sad to think most Canadians are not aware of the rich bounty we grow here.

Steve Ambrose and Prakash duet on an R&B chestnut and create my favourite version of a song I have always loved. Killer. Killer. Killer.

  1. The Odds

Wow. Just Wow. It don’t get better than this when it comes to the spirit and edge of rock and roll as a statement. Funny, Smart, Arrogant, and Self Deprecating all in the same breath. There are Canadian bands held in high esteem for their ‘poetic’ lyrics and timely musing, but I must disagree with the mainstream audience on their choices. Especially when the artists in this Top Twenty are much better representations of OUR Canada. There is room for all, I suppose, but sometimes I wonder why some things can successfully cross borders, and some can’t. Word.

  1. Pagliaro

In Quebec, Michel Pagliaro is a combination of Elvis, The Beatles, and whoever else you want to toss in there. As much as I love his English releases, this tune was the first Pag song I ever heard and it is still my favourite. They say rock loses something in other languages, but in the hands of Pagliaro, this song has all the immediacy and gusto of any Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis record to ever spin on a turntable. This was my soundtrack to Montreal when I lived there. This is the sound of downtown Crescent Street nights.

  1. Blue Shadows

It breaks my heart this band never achieved the recognition and plaudits it deserved. Cut from the same cloth as the Everly Brothers, Early Beatles, and Hank Williams, the Blue Shadows were an anomaly plagued by bad luck and worse decisions. There had not been a vocal blend the likes of Billy Cowsill and Jeffery Hatcher’s since the Everlys, and there is a likliehood  that magic like this won’t ever happen again. The story of this band and Billy Cowsill is just waiting to be a movie, but I doubt anyone who could make that happen is even aware of their existence, let alone this music. They had a major label, the attention of the industry, and the material to excel, and I, for one, would love to know what derailed them. Anyone I have ever talked to in regard to thisband has always blamed Billy’s addiction problems, but if that were the case, most of the classic bands still revered never would have gotten to first base.

It is a movie worth making …just like the music is worth hearing.

  1. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush

Frank is the most Spiritual, Charismatic, Dedicated, and Interesting musician I have ever had the pleasure to call a friend. I met Frank when I first moved to Montreal when Frank was 17 or 18 years old. Pong till closing at Maxwell’s, hours of musical discussion, studio time, hanging out, and enjoying Montreal during its CHOM/Crescent Street Renaissance in the Early to mid ’70s.

He has been toiling night and day for years to repair the video this clip was taken from. A Herculean task he has accomplished at last, and the concert is available to buy. Do so. The music is transcendent a testimony to Franks ability, passion, and skill.

Drinking a 6oz. green bottle Coca Cola is his honour as I type this. If you knew Frank, you would know why.

  1. Cadence

They tour the world and are known far better in other countries than they are in Canada. I have always been a sucker for acapella groups, and this homegrown version is right up there with Naturally 7 and Take 6. This take on the Stevie Wonder classic is infectious and unbelievably energetic and precise. Love it more than the original. They’re in Europe right now, but if you hear they are playing somewhere near you, go see them. A great night out.

  1. Chromeo

This was a hit!

Montreal boys who make music that fits in with the modern radio sound, but is much better than most of it. Find the episode of Daryl’s House they did with Daryl Hall and give a listen. And LOVE this video. I used to be the guy at the jukebox who sings the song …now I’m the bartender enjoying my new pants. Life goes on ….

O4. Pukka Orchestra

When I worked at Q107, this was one of my favourite tracks to slip into my show. There is a very funny story connected to the first time I played this and ‘Listen to the Radio’ during an interview with the band, but I’m not going to tell it now. Pukka Puk pukka pukka pukka pukkity puk puk ….

  1. Johnny V

Taken from us waaay too soon, a wizard on the guitar, a singer of the blues and a writer of classic songs like this one. Another woulda shoulda coulda Canadian legend that deserved more and gave so much. You are missed, John.

There’s no Wikipedia page for Johnny, but there is this in a Wikipedia article called “Canadian Blues Guitarists”.

” Johnny V Mills[4] is a Calgary blues guitarist who has been nominated for several Juno awards, including on collaboration recordings with Richard Newell and Amos Garrett. In 1986 Elder Chicago blues performer Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater hired Johnny as a sideman. In 1989 Johnny released ten original songs titled Roosters and Hens and won a Juno Award in 1991 for his song “I Need A Woman”. In 1998, Johnny toured with Clearwater in the US, Europe, and South America. In 1999, he joined Billy Branch’s band “The Sons of Blues”. He released an independent live CD in 2001 titled “Mustard and Relics” and in 2005 he recorded and released the CD “Agnostically Eclectic”. Westcoast Blues Review stated that “…Johnny V Mills is the true heavyweight champion of the Great Blues North” and praised him as the “…best blues songwriter in Canada”

  1. Parachute Club

Lorraine Segato and Company’s Urban Masterpiece delivers a message even more important now than when it was first released. An uplifting and important statement for the times that you can dance to. Near perfection.

Rise Up! Rise Up!

  1. The Cameo Blues Band

My ALL TIME FAVOURITE Canadian recording.

I wonder if Jerry Lee ever heard this version of his mediocre song that the Cameos and Mal turned into a CLASSIC.

This record is live off the floor, no artifice, no tricks, just great players playing great and singer Malcolm Tomlinson singing from the heart, groin, and soul. This is timeless. This is Primal. This is What It’s All About.

If you’re not rockin’ your life away, put down the guitar and go back to school …but if you ARE rock it away like these 20 artists.


Segarini’s regular column wonders if any American Woman knows what the hell a 50 mission cap is

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

15 Responses to “Bob’s All Time Favourite Canadian Top Twenty”

  1. Richard Skelly Says:

    An eclectic and worthy list.

    Deprived of a deserved hit with I Can Hear You Calling, Bush got a consolation prize. The song was picked up by fellow Dunhill Records labelmates Three Dog Night. The resulting 3DN cover got plonked onto the flip side of Joy To The World. Which sold millions of copies around the globe. Kaching!

    Heterosexual Man by The Odds highlighted their 1993 album Bedbugs. Adding guitar on Jack Hammer and piano on Yes (Means It’s Hard To Say No) was a musical sandwich eater called Warren Zevon. Preceding months had seen the Odds act as Warren’s backup band.

  2. Peter Cullen Says:

    We brought up the Blue Shadows for Folk on the Rocks in Yellownife in 1995 – and then they stayed three more nights to play the local Sweetgrass Cafe. Went every night – just an impeccable band, with great harmonies and music right in my wheelhouse – which you describe well. Beatles, Everlys, Hank Williams. And of course Bill was a presence, and one of the great voices.

  3. So many acts that triggered great memories. I sat in on many Glass Tiger rehearsals in the 80s in small town Ontario (Al rented my mom’s basement). My brother Roger was part of the music scene, and moved to Pittsburg and eventually Buffalo, performing with his band The Feast in large venues. Thanks for reminding us of the many musicians who practice their art because they love it. They don’t have to make it big. They just have to make it music.
    Take care, Bob.
    Sandra Cormier

  4. Janet Bisset Says:

    You had me at Gino vanelli’s chest hair.

  5. K.Scott Dowbs Says:

    I’ve been schooled. Many thanks for confirming some of my own on your list but also enriching me with those I had forgotten and those I never had the pleasure of listening to until now. It took me 2 1/2 minutes to read your blog and 2 additional weeks after I clicked the links and followed rabbit holes.

  6. Love your list Bob, especially for personal reasons, your #2 choice of The Parachute Club’s “Rise Up (Current/RCA), but how about “Echo Beach” (Virgin/PolyGram) by Martha And The Muffins, the 1980 Juno Award winning Single Of The Year

  7. Stuart Ross Says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. If these were the only Canadian bands we produced, we could stand proud. World class talent every one!

  8. Wayne Baggs Says:

    Great List!!

  9. Garry Lavallee Says:

    I’m an adult now can’t remember band name

    High school confidential rough trade

    Echo beach Martha and the muffins

  10. Dan Lovranski Says:

    Love all the Quebec prog bands from the 70s like Offenbach, Sex, Dionysos, Octobre, Harmonium, Sloche, the list is endless!

  11. Jim Chisholm Says:

    This was all good.

  12. Tommy Grasley Says:

    Interesting Bob…..
    I hope you are well.

    I would Love to share with you my new album CALIFORNIA WAY
    Let me know if this interests you Bob.

    Message me and I will send in reply!
    All the Best

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