Home Read Albums Of The Week: Trans-Canada Highwaymen | Explosive Hits Vol. 1

Albums Of The Week: Trans-Canada Highwaymen | Explosive Hits Vol. 1

Canadian pop-rock heroes cover classics by some other Canadian pop-rock heroes.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Canadian supergroup Trans-Canada Highwaymen have taken a collection of CanCon classics for a spin with a 14-track recording that pays homage to the great K-Tel compilation records of the 1970s. The lineup includes four singer-songwriters who have all written songs that have contributed to Canadian culture — Sloan bassist Chris Murphy, Odds guitarist Craig Northey, former Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page and The Pursuit of Happiness’s Moe Berg — who have joined force once again to deliver their unique take on the best of Canadian rock!

“We’d been sporadically doing shows for a couple of years and having a blast laughing at each other’s jokes and playing each other’s smash hits,” the band explain in a joint statement. “The question eventually arose. ‘What should we do next?’ We knew, whatever it was, it should only include smash hits. It was Chris who said ‘How about Explosive Hits?’ We laughed… so therefore it had to happen. Covid locked us all down so the plan was hatched to each hand-pick a few Canadian AM rock-radio hits from the very late ’60s and early ’70s. Our AM radios had helped shape our DNA and none of us had strayed too far from our inner child. Our arrested development was going to make this easy.

“We’d record our parts remotely and they would be aggregated and mixed in the Odds’ North Vancouver studio. Out of the blue, Steven surprised us all with a new song that described our origin story — Theme from TransCanada Highwaymen. It was obviously an Explosive Hit, so we had to throw it on our growing bonfire of Canadian rock heaters. So… four Canadian musical mavens from the ’80s and ’90s sing the Canadian songs of the ’60s and ’70s. Makes total sense. As Moe says, ‘Don’t think too much about it. Act now.’ ”

On this album, you’ll hear Steven sing Undun (The Guess Who), Rock Me Gently (Andy Kim) and (I Believe) There’s Nothing Stronger Than Our Love (Paul Anka). You’ll hear Craig sing Tonite is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love (April Wine), Make My Life A Little Bit Brighter (Chester), Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat (The DeFranco Family) and Can’t Catch Me (Bim). You’ll hear Chris sing Lovin’ You Ain‘t Easy (Michel Pagliaro), Which Way You Goin’ Billy? (The Poppy Family) and Carry Me (The Stampeders). You’ll hear Moe sing Pretty Lady (Lighthouse), Raised On Robbery (Joni Mitchell) and You, Me and Mexico (Edward Bear).

When it comes to Canadian rock in the ’90s, the term supergroup can not be overused. Since 2017, the TCH have performed hit songs as a crack rock ’n’ roll combo. Members swap instruments and lead singers rotate throughout the set. There’s always an infectious energy, a display of seasoned musicianship and an abundance of fun. These four frontmen of Canada’s most popular and commercially successful alt-rock / power-pop bands just play themselves — and it brings all those feelings of the late ’80s and early ’90s into the moment. They bring along their unique perspectives on being catapulted from the hard working underground indie scene to acclaim, during one of Canada’ most exciting and transformative music eras.

The TCH live show will include songs from Explosive Hits Vol. 1, but the emphasis will still be on the songs these guys have written. So you’ll still hear Moe sing I’m An Adult Now, Hard to Laugh and She’s So Young. You’ll hear Chris sing Underwhelmed, The Other Man and The Rest of My Life. You’ll hear Craig sing It Falls Apart, Someone Who’s Cool and Make You Mad. You’ll hear Steven sing The Old Apartment, Brian Wilson and Jane.