Every RPM Canadian Content #1 single discussion thread 1964-2000

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bunglejerry, Aug 17, 2020.

  1. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    INTRODUCTION TO RPM MAGAZINE

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    RPM Magazine was published more-or-less weekly from February 1964 to November 2000. Walt Grealis, the founder, served as editor of the magazine from its first edition till its last. Stan Klees is considered the magazine's co-founder, since it was originally his idea, though he actually came on board a little bit later.

    The title of the magazine stands for "Records, Promotion, Music" - though it is of course a familiar acronym to any record player user. From its humble beginnings as essentially a mimeographed newsletter to its final years as a full-colour glossy, RPM was a trade journal for the Canadian music industry. In this position, it liaised between Canadian record companies and Canadian radio stations, and it reported on the dealings of both (plus recording studios, record pressing plants, music promotion agencies and of course the artists themselves). But its greatest legacy is probably its position as an indomitable cheerleader for Canadian music and key developer of a Canadian music industry.

    It is this role that fascinates me most about the magazine. The Canadian music industry didn't, of course, pop into existence in 1964 alongside this trade journal. But the piecemeal, scattered, small-time nature of the industry is clearly visible on the early pages of the magazine - as is, of course, the ever-constant sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the USA and the UK. Watching the plucky Canadian record industry develop over the pages of this magazine is an enjoyable exercise and a source of pride. Inasmuch as a nation is defined by its culture, RPM Magazine was an exercise in nation-building just as much as, say, the laying of the Canadian Pacific Railway or the repatriation of the Constitution.

    RPM's legacy is threefold: first is its role (alongside CARAS) in the establishment of the Juno Awards, Canada's annual music awards. Second is its role in the establishment of the MAPL system, which is fundamental to Canada's CanCon legislation, about which I will have much to say when the time comes. Third is its establishment of weekly national music charts, comparable to the charts published in the USA by Billboard Magazine. It's possible to think of RPM as "Canada's Billboard" (though, like Billboard in the USA, it wasn't the only national music chart). These charts are, of course, the focus of this thread.
     
  2. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    INTRODUCTION TO THIS THREAD
    Inspired of course by similar threads here at Steve Hoffman Forums following the Top 40 charts of the USA and the UK, I've decided to dedicate a thread to Canada's music charts by following the charts published in RPM Magazine. However, if I were to follow the #1 song on the weekly Top 100 Singles chart, I would be significantly duplicating the work of the Billboard thread: RPM's and Billboard's number one singles were the same more often than not. Instead, because it's more interesting and allows us to shine lights on some rather obscure acts, I'm going to focus instead on RPM's Canadian Content chart, which was designed to show the Canadian songs most often played on Canadian radio stations (and, later, purchased in Canadian record stores as the scope of the chart widened).

    What's that you say? I used to read RPM Magazine and I don't remember any kind of Canadian Content chart, you say? Well, let me answer that in two parts. First of all, you'd be wrong: RPM did publish a weekly Canadian Content chart, from its inception in 1964 (RPM published a Canadian Content chart before it even had a generalised Top Singles chart) consistently until 1970 and then, in fits and spurts, for over a decade after that. For the sixties, I take that chart - which was usually a top-ten but at times shrank as low as a top-six and at times expanded to a top 50 - as gospel.

    In August of 1970, however, RPM started indicating entries on its main Top 100 chart with the "MAPL symbol" (about which more later), allowing easy visual identification of which songs were by Canadian artists. During the years when this practice coexisted with a dedicated Canadian chart, we can see that the two charts used the same data: if, for example, the 4th, 7th and 12th songs on the Top 100 were Canadian in origin and the ones surrounding them were foreign, then those same three songs would take the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on the "Canadian Content" chart.

    That means that, in other words, given that RPM continued to annotate its Top 100 chart with the MAPL symbol throughout its existence until its demise in 2000, it is possible to "reconstruct" an RPM Canadian Content singles chart for the years when RPM didn't have one itself. A tricky bit of sleight-of-hand, perhaps, but useful as a down-the-decades overview of the Canadian star system and its impact on radio play and record sales.

    In other words, most of the songs that I'll be lauding as "number one" songs were, in fact, nothing of the sort. In specific times of doldrums for Canadian Content, we will find that the highest-charting Canadian song on Canadian Top 40 radio was perhaps the 35th-highest song overall (the 34 before it all being foreign). At other times, however, the Top 100 will be filled with Canadian Content (the peak being an edition whose date I don't now recall in the late 1990s when seven of the top 10 tracks were Canadian in origin).

    I have one very important caveat to mention before carrying on: despite occasional lip-service and even the brief existence of a dedicated chart (off and on from 1966 to 1973), Canada's long and proud history of French-language music is almost completely ignored here. I presume that, when the RPM charts were completely radio-play compilations, they specifically only included English-language radio stations (the top-40 format might in the early 60s have necessitated that). As far as I can tell, it's purely linguistic and not regional: Montréal-based radio stations are always well-represented.

    If you are Canadian or know Canada well, you are probably familiar with the phrase "the two solitudes", referring to the strict isolation between French-language culture and English-language culture in Canada. In time, that would be solidified through the establishment of a Québec-based music industry and star system interlocked with, but completely separate from, the anglophone industry. I will make occasional reference to the French-language charts in the seven years that they existed on the RPM pages and I will hope to find archives of the Québec charts for the periods thereafter, but I want to apologise in advance for all the times I will inevitably use the word "Canadian" for what should in fact be "English-Canadian" and for all the times I will seem to overlook or ignore the existence of a French-language music industry in Canada. It is nothing but my own ignorance.

    I will also apologise in advance for the times I will, out of habit, write "us" to mean Canadians. If this thread succeeds and develops its own community, I will be nothing but pleased for all the non-Canadian members of the forum who might choose to follow along and chip in. I hope not to be exclusionary in my language: sharing the history of Canadian music with non-Canadians would be a real delight for me and for others as well, I hope.

    Now then. My goal with this thread is to feature one song each day. I will, of course, skip days here and there, and I have not yet decided if I will include the weekend (probably not). I am going to start in 1964 and go, number-one by number-one, all the way to the magazine's demise in 2000 (there are ways to continue past then, but I'm not sure I will). Where they exist, I'll include a link to a Youtube video of the song and image of the record label.

    I will also offer nuggets of commentary about the songs, though my hope is that the community will provide the bulk of that. In addition to that, from time to time I will also do each of the following: (a) offer some choice soundbites from the pages of those weeks' RPM Magazines, especially excerpts that offer a snapshot of the state of the Canadian music industry of the era, (b) run down some of the Canadian songs on the charts that didn't hit number one but are still noteworthy, (c) mention which international songs are at the top of the Top 100, especially those moments when songs that bombed in the USA and UK inexplicably became hits in Canada, and (d) take a look-in at other charts published by RPM, including country, adult contemporary, dance and - of course - French.
     
  3. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #1 - YOU'RE NOT A GOODY GOODY
    by BOBBY CURTOLA
    #1 for 2 weeks: May 11 and May 18, 1964




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    The first edition of RPM Magazine was February 24, 1964. I can find no online resource (and by the way I am using three different online resources, about which more later) that provides any record of the first two and a half months of the magazine. The earliest edition I can find is the May 11 edition, Vol. 1 No. 12., which features on its front page a table entitled "Chart Action Across Canada", enumerating the Canadian songs featured on the Top 40 playlists of 11 different radio stations (no Toronto: CKLB Oshawa and CHIQ Hamilton are the closest). Three of them are highlighted for "significant action", and of those three, the one with the most significant action, and therefore our first CanCon #1 single, is "You're Not a Goody Goody" by Bobby Curtola.

    If you were looking for historical significance to attach to this first number one, I fear you wouldn't find it in the song itself. It's catchy but derivative of its era, written by Basil and Dyer Hurdon, brothers from Thunder Bay who discovered and managed Bobby Curtola, wrote all of his songs and owned the record label he recorded for.

    On the other hand, it's apropos that Bobby Curtola should hold the first number-one on the chart, being perhaps Canada's biggest teen-star of the era. Like his svengalis, Curtola was from Thunder Bay and released his first single at 16 years old in 1960. "Fortune Teller", from 1962, was his biggest hit, though I find improbable the claim on Wikipedia that it sold 2.5 million copies globally. It peaked just outside the Top 40 on Billboard. I remember the song well from my childhood listening to my parents playing 1050 CHUM after its 1986 conversion to an "oldies" format.

    This particular song, on the other hand, I don't remember at all.

    ON THE PAGES OF RPM: Since the May 11 edition has a paragraph explaining how they tabulated the Cross Canada chart, I'll let them do the talking:

    "You have probably looked at our chart page, and wondered how we arrive at our picks and significant action singles, and how authentic and honest our research is. FIRSTLY, and most important, we can only work with charts received. Each week we receive approximately 50% of the charts published in Canada. This is improving however. We then tabulate each CC single listed. To give you an example, this week's figures read as follows: Goody Goody -12, Private Property -9, Baby Beatle-6, Louise and French Song tie with 4, and the balance shows one or two listings. We work basically on listings not position on charts, since this indicates sales, and our chief interest is exposure and unified play across the nation."
     
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  4. Isn't Anything

    Isn't Anything Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Great idea, I’m here to learn!
     
  5. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Being across the river I heard more Canadian music than most. I will be very interested.
    Watched thread.
     
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  6. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    "Baby Beatle Walk" by the Al Martin Six, in case you're wondering.
     
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  7. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    One suggestion, If the record had a US release what label was it on and a pic if possible.
     
  8. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Oh gosh. Well I'll try. As soon as RPM starts listing (CDN) labels in their charts, so will I. I know there was a point where their charts actually specifically indicated which songs had US releases. But largely I'll be at the mercy of Discogs.
     
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  9. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Understanding that not every record GOT an American release, and many will be obvious. I immediately recognized Bobby Curtola by name, but never heard this one. A few years before I was listening.
     
  10. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #2 - THE FRENCH SONG (QUAND LE SOLEIL DIT BONJOUR AUX MONTAGNES)
    by LUCILLE STARR
    #1 for 8 weeks: May 25, June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, July 6* and 13, 1964




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    Did I really just spend multiple paragraphs lamenting the lack of francophone songs on these charts only to turn around and have the very second song on the charts be not only a French song but be actually called "The French Song"? Well, don't get your hopes up. It's pretty much anglos all the way down from now on.

    This song, which I grew up believing was a Québécois folk song, is in fact neither. Lucille Starr was a Franco-Manitoban, and this song - which incorrectly bears her name as a songwriting credit on the original release - goes back at least to the thirties as an Appalachian cowboy song called "When it's Lamplighting Time in the Valley". The new lyrics, which translate as "when the sun says hello to the mountains", exist in both French and English versions in recordings from the 1940s. Lucille Starr's version - produced by Herb Alpert - mixes both.

    This beautiful rendition, part country and part easy listening, is the last we're going to hear from Ms. Starr, who had a successful career for decades in both French and English, performing solo and as part of a country duo called the Canadian Sweethearts.

    Discogs tells me that, in addition to a Canadian release on Barry/Quality and an American release on Almo International (an A&M sublabel), this track was also released in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia

    ON THE PAGES OF RPM: Coming as it did while this bilingual song was atop the charts, I just had to include this rather shocking paragraph from the newsletter itself: "RUDY ASSALLY, Kim International sent us a copy of JIM MURRAY sings "Folksongs of Life's Quandaries of Separatism and Togetherness Around the World." Get it? FLQ. A very funny LP and a good step in the right direction of making fun of a very exaggerated situation. Better stay out of telephone booths Jim."

    * The issue dated July 6 is missing from online RPM archives. Starr's status at the top is surmised from the following week's chart.
     
  11. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    NS, Canada
    I don't personally remember Goody, but The French Song was massive. I was in high school in PEI at that time, and I think Bobby Curtola was near the end of his hit making career.
     
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  12. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Her recording of Dominique was mentioned in the Billboard AC thread so I knew she was on A&M.
     
  13. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Oh and Del-Fi released at least some of Bobby Curtola in the states.
     
  14. Geee!

    Geee! Senior Member

    Great idea, but I will not be able to participate for some time; I am not familiar with most 1960s content.
     
  15. Chemically altered

    Chemically altered Forum Resident

    Location:
    In your mind
    Just let me know when we get to Gordon Lightfoot. ;)
     
  16. bliss44

    bliss44 Forum Resident

    Location:
    canada
    @bunglejerry

    anything from 64 about Shirley Matthews is of interest- she want to high school with my mother in a tiny town in southern Ontario.

    I think RPM’s awards were the precursors to the Junos.
     
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  17. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Surprisingly soon actually! November of 1965.

    Sadly no. "Big Town Boy", her biggest hit, came out at the tail end of 1963 and had run its course by the time we're looking at here. Again Wikipedia claims "Big Town Boy" sold over a million copies: the third such claim I'm seen so far for Canadian songs from 1964! That would be equivalent to a song selling ten million copies in the United States, which doesn't happen that often.

    For the era before mid-1964, chart "authorities" usually take 1050 CHUM Toronto's top 40 list and use it as the ''nationwide" list, a tendency I consider problematic at best. But "Big Town Boy" would certainly have been a #1 if I were to approach the 1957-1964 CHUM charts in the same way, as it was a big hit on CHUM.

    EDIT: Also, you're right. The RPM Awards became the Gold Leaf Awards which became the Juno Awards.
     
  18. Spoiler alert: there will be no Rush in this thread :(
     
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  19. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    Lucille Starr was raised in the B.C. town of Maillardville (at the time, the largest French-Canadian community west of Manitoba). She formed a duo with Bob Regan (Bob & Lucille) and released this rockabilly classic in 1958 that usually goes for over $100.

     
  20. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    The other side was pretty good as well:

     
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  21. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Not true! There will be some Rush in the 1980s, but you're right that they never topped the charts in their glory days in the 1970s. That AM/FM cultural divide was just too wide.
     
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  22. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    "New World Man" was #1 on the singles chart
     
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  23. bunglejerry

    bunglejerry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    That's pretty excellent. Some great squealing in her voice there. She was also apparently an accomplished yodeller. The more you know!
     
  24. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    Bob & Lucille's follow up from 1959, "What's The Password"

     
  25. bekayne

    bekayne Forum Resident

    She did the yodeling for Cousin Pearl on The Beverly Hillbillies
     
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