Canadian Eh?

The Canadian Singers, who did that gorgeous album of Christmas music last year, have been at it again, this time with a CD entitled Beautiful. All the songs in it are Canadian. The title, apart from being a good description of the music therein, refers also to the name of the Gordon Lightfoot song included on the CD.

Other prominent Canadians represented on the disc are Hagood Hardy, Healey Willan and Godfrey Ridout. There are also some lovely traditional folk songs, mostly arranged by Harvey Patterson, leader of the group. He and Vern Kennedy also produced the CD. Incidentally, if you go that far back, Vern Kennedy was one of the vocal quartet known as The Romeos, who sang with Juliette back in the 1960’s.

Of particular note is the solo work by three of the women in the group, Sheila Fisher, Wendy Legiehn and Stephanie Taylor.

If you don’t see it in a record store, call Gale Gingrich at (416) 690-9629 or fax her at (416) 693-0049.

“Grigorian” chant
Which reminds me, not so long ago I got a letter from a reader in Coboconk, Ont., looking for recordings by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Anyone too young to remember those names can tune out here. No rd feelings.

MacDonald and Eddy were great stars half a century ago, singing their light operatic songs in half a dozen movies of that era Naughty Marietta, Rose Marie, Maytime, and Sweethearts, among others. They also made some films separately i.e. MacDonald with Allan Jones in The Firefly, Eddy with Ilona Massey in Balalaika. But it was as a team that they were most successful.

Anyhow, I solved the reader’s problem by referring her to Bob Trenholm at L’Atelier Grigorian, my favorite record store of anything from Gounod to Goodman, from Mozart to Marsalis to Dolly Parton. This great record store is located at 70 Yorkville St., Toronto, Ont. M5R 1B9 – phone (416) 922-6477. Bob has an encyclopedic knowledge of records of all kinds – plus the energy and the will to find anything not in stock. You can’t ask more of a record store than that.

Mutual admiration
Ginette Reno, one of Canada’s classiest singers, is well represented on Love Is All , released last fall. It’s her first English-language album in two decades and includes three songs by singer/songwriter Shirley Eikhard.

Reno, who is 52 years old, has recorded 55 albums, many of them in French only. Eikhard has nothing but praise for the Québécois singer and Reno told Words and Music, the SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) magazine, that she likes Shirley’s work so much she could easily have done an entire album of her songs. As it stands, Reno’s album also contains songs by Dan Hill, Luc Plamondon and Diane Warren.

Murray’s musings
Balladeer Murray McLauchlan put the music aside long enough last year to set down his own life story in a lively book titled Getting Out of Here Alive: The Ballad of Murray McLaughlan.

He traces his family’s origins in Scotland, where he was born. The family moved to Canada when he was a child. His earliest ambition was to be a visual artist, but then music attracted his attention and he set his sights on a career as a singer and musicia n. The long struggle from obscurity to acceptance is candidly told in Murray’s engaging, informal style. The book came out shortly before he was so unceremoniously dumped as host of Grumps, the talk show seen on Prime TV.

Likes and dislikes
I like Ted O’Reilly’s approach to jazz on his CJRT (Toronto) programs, and I wish the station would send the Chicago type who was shoe-horned into its schedule back to the Windy City… I like the way Ross Porter closes his CBC After Hours program: “And remember, support your local jazz festival”… I like much of the music on CBC’s Disk Drive, but I do wish its host, Jergen Gothe, could suppress the impulse to keep talking when he evidently has nothing to say… And I often agree with Rex Murphy’s commentaries, but I can’t shake the feeling that he sounds like an irate leprechaun.

Parting shots
With the dreaded millennium approaching, this might be a good time to dispense some thoughts on the past half century. The biggest myth of the 1950’s was that Elvis Presley was a great singer. The biggest myth of the 1960’s was that Bob Dylan was a singer at all. The biggest myth of the 1970’s was that Richard Nixon was not a crook. The biggest myth of the 1980’s was Michael Jackson. And the biggest myth of the 1990’s was that Madonna was serious.