This year  was a big year for Canadian rock, Canada’s biggest 3 hard-rock acts at the time all had their biggest selling albums – April Wine’s Nature Of The Beast; Rush’s Moving Pictures and Triumph’s – Allied Forces. So 1981 may have been one of [or the] best years in Canadian rock [!?] But I’m already thinking of 1980 & ’82 – an amazing period for bands from this country. I’ve compiled a list of a 10 great Canadian albums released that year, and that was cutting it down from a list of about 20 [ok, most I have on vinyl].
Feel free to chime in with your own favorites from 1981 in the comments… anything at the top of your list you think I need to check out?
Rush – Moving Pictures
Released in February, and would feature such classics as “Tom Sawyer”, “Limelight”, “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”, etc…. The band would follow this up with the double live Exit…Stage Left released later in ’81.
April Wine – Nature of The Beast
This came out in January, 11 great tracks on this album, with notable hits “Just Between You And Me”, and a remake of Lorence Hud’s “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen”; plus hard rockin’ favorites like “Big City Girls” and “Future Tense”.
Triumph – Allied Forces
Released in September, and featured the hit “Magic Power”, as well as other classics “Fight The Good Fight” and “Fool For Your Love”. 40th Anniversary box set coming this summer!
Loverboy – Get Lucky
Loverboy’s 1980 debut album was huge, included 3 hit singles, and the band won a few Juno’s (Canadian music awards) from it. This follow up was nearly as big, with another string of hit singles, most notably the anthem “Working For The Weekend”.
Santers – Shot Down In Flames
Toronto hard-rock trio’s debut LP, late in the year. Featured the title track (dedicated to Bon Scott), as well as rockers like “Caught In The Wind” and “Crazy Ladies”, as well as a cover of Donnie Iris’ “The Rapper”.
Frank Marino – The Power of Rock n Roll
Marino’s first album labelled as a solo album (minus Mahogany Rush, though he used the same rhythm section and engineer) from the summer of ’81. Marino, from Montreal, influenced by Hendrix, killer guitar playing here and some cool tunes like “Play My Music”, “Stay With Me”, “Crazy Miss Daisy”, and “Ain’t Dead Yet”. This album, wasn’t a huge commercial success, but it’s follow up would be.
Saga – World’s Apart
Saga’s 4th and biggest album as well, released in September. It featured the hits “On The Loose” and “Wind Him Up”, perhaps the band’s best known songs, as well as the ballad “No Regrets”. Hugely successful overseas, particularly in Germany.
Frank Soda – Saturday Night Getaway
Frank Soda & The Imps were backing band for Thor in the mid 70s, then went off on their own to make a few albums. This, released later in ’81 was the first just credited to Frank, as it sees him re-do a number of tracks from the band’s 1979 [live] debut. If you’re not familiar – check it out,
Anvil – Hard N Heavy
The first (and arguably) the best from this Toronto Heavy metal band. Originally released independently under the band name of ‘Lips’ before signing to Attic and changing the name. Released in May, and featured the classics “School Love”, “Bedroom Game”, “Ooh Baby”, as well as the band’s metalized pounding of the Stones “Paint It Black”. A very influential band on many thrash metal bands to come.
Red Rider – As Far As Siam
From June, this cleverly titled 2nd album featured the hit singles “What Have You Got To Do (To Get Off Tonight)”, as well as the band’s best known song “Lunatic Fringe”, which featured in the movie Vision Quest, as well as a few TV shows like Miami Vice and My Name Is Earl.
Other mentions: Toronto – Head On , The Kings – Amazon Beach , Goddo – Pretty Bad Boys, Pat Travers – RadioActive, Butler – Butler , Bryan Adams – You Want It You Got It, The Guess Who – Now And Not Then .
2 thoughts on “Top 10 Canadian Albums of 1981”
I have 3 of those (Rush, Triumph & Loverboy) and I use to have Red Rider and Saga not sue what happened to those. Some great albums by all.
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Some real solid picks there. Love those 3 Santers albums. If a band that should have done more it would be those guys. Great players and songs but one of those puzzles as why they didn’t break out.