The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Bob Mersereau (2015): Books

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What comes to mind when thinking of Canada? Beautiful scenery? Hockey? Geese? Maple syrup? Brightly colored flags? Kings and Queens? Music? Canada certainly has parented a slew of winning acts, and this great book provides a comprehensive study of the country’s diversified sounds.

An enthused forward penned by Rush drummer Neil Peart sets the tone of The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll, which is covered in a sequenced timeline. Author Bob Mersereau, who has been involved in various aspects of the biz for 30 years, approaches the subject matter with so much passion and knowledge that you feel as though you are experiencing the music and incidents firsthand.

While the birth, background and rise of red hot performers like the Guess Who, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Four Lads, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Gordon Lightfoot, Rush, Bryan Adams, April Wine, Sarah MacLachlan, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, the Band, Celine Dion, Anne Murray, Nickelback, Alanis Morissette, Loverboy and Ian and Sylvia are given plenty of ink, The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll (Backbeat Books) further salutes acts that attained only regional success such as the Esquires, Terry Black, the Ugly Ducklings, Mandala, the Haunted, Teenage Head, Michael Pagliaro, Kensington Market, Chilliwack, the Diodes, the Collectors, the Paupers, and Max Webster.

It’s also good to read about artists that have largely been forgotten — on a wider scale, that is — including Andy Kim, Nick Gilder, Terry Jacks, Mashmakhan, the Stampeders, and Martha and the Muffins.

Up until the late 1960s and early ’70s, Canadian radio stations seldom promoted homegrown music. It was a real struggle to get one’s records played, and Bob Mersereau’s The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll discusses at length the mechanics of the broadcasting system. Despite the lack of support, scenes thrived, and the book additionally furnishes ample information on the coffeehouses, clubs, and auditoriums that hosted the music.

Touching base on everything and anything from teen idol pop to folk to British Invasion-influenced styles to garage rock to psychedelia to hard rock to heavy metal to punk rock to new wave to rap to alternative rock, Bob Mersereau’s The History of Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll affirms just how multi-faceted and progressive the country is. Canada’s contributions to music remain immeasurable, and here’s the story behind the people and recordings that made it and continue to make it happen.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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