When looking into the top 10 Canadian rock songs from 1973, it would be an injustice not to look at some of the most iconic hits that were released that year. Such hits include Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business” and Lighthouse’s “Pretty Lady.” 1973 witnessed these two Canadian rock bands win over a fan base on a national level as well as international. Canada’s Juno Awards already recognized Lighthouse as Group of the Year in 1972 so this was officially the band to beat at the time. During the 1973 and 1974 Junos, Lighthouse remained Canada’s favorite rock group until they were finally dethroned by Bachman-Turner Overdrive in 1975.
Stampeding Into Overdrive
Randy Bachman’s BTO released Bachman-Turner Overdrive II as its second studio album in 1973, this served the Canadian rock group its big breakthrough. Already with the fame of The Guess Who under his belt, Bachman had big shoes to fill after leaving that group during the height of its popularity in 1970. He, along with his brothers, Tim and Robbie, teamed up with Fred Turner to form what became one of Canada’s most iconic rock groups in history. Not only did they win over the Canadian fans but Americans as well. Rockers around the world quickly learned about BTO as soon as “Takin’ Care of Business” hit the airwaves.
BTO’s rise to fame seemed to have Randy Bachman pick up where he left off after parting ways with The Guess Who. 1973 would be a year where fans would become privy to hearing new music from both bands, as well as material coming from other popular Canadian rock groups such as The Stampeders and Edward Bear. These fan favorites were heard the most often across Canada as listeners couldn’t get enough of some of their best hits. In the United States, as well as overseas, some of 1973’s biggest hits in Canada also became favorites among nations such as Australia and the UK. There was also Scrubbaloe Caine, a rock group where Loverboy’s Paul Dean received his first real taste of nationwide fame. This was also the same band New Yorker Henry Small won over the hearts of Canadian music fans before he became lead vocalist for Prism from 1981 until 1984.
Top 10 Canadian Rock Songs from 1973
#10 – Could You Ever Love Me Again (performed by Gary and Dave)
“Could You Ever Love Me Again” was a wonderfully moving song recorded and released in 1973 by Gary Weeks and Dave Beckett. The Canadian duo formed Gary and Dave as a rock group in 1969 that would first release their first studio album, Together, released the same year as their hit single. Perhaps regarded as one-hit wonders, Gary and Dave’s “Could You Ever Love Me Again” became a number-one hit on the Canadian Top Singles Chart, a number-seven hit in Australia, and a number ninety-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, it peaked as high as number forty-seven. If you’re looking for a classic rock ballad with spiritually haunting appeal, “Could You Ever Love Me Again” would be it.
# 9 – Oh My Lady (performed by The Stampeders)
Originally hailing from Calgary, Alberta, The Stampeders was a rock trio that came up with the name as their way of paying homage to the city’s Canadian Football League team. Originally named The Rebounds in 1964, the lineup started out as a five-man band before it was reduced to three by 1968. Founders Rich Dodson and Kim Berly continued as The Stampeders, along with the 1965 recruitment of their bass player, Ronnie King. At the beginning of their career, the bandmates of The Stampeders often sported cowboy hats and other western-style gear to identify who they were as performers and where they come from.
Classic rock fans knowing a thing or two about early 1970s Canadian rock music may be familiar with “Sweet City Woman” as this was the breakthrough hit that put The Stampeders on the map as one of the nation’s favorite rock stars. 1973’s “Oh My Lady” also became a big hit in Canada as it peaked as high as number twelve on the Canadian Top Singles Chart after it was released as a single. It came from the group’s third studio album, Rubes, Dudes & Rowdies.
By this time, The Stampeders were riding high as one of the nation’s most popular musical acts. Already recognized as Juno Award winners for their previous work, The Stampeders wonderfully performed “Oh My Lady” as a song about a relationship with a love interest that came to an end. This somber number also became a number two hit on Canada’s Adult Contemporary Songs chart as fans couldn’t help but fall in love with this heartbreaking ballad.
#8 – Glamour Boy (performed by The Guess Who)
Written by Burton Cummings, “Glamour Boy” was a song recorded in 1973 by The Guess Who for their eleventh studio album, #10. This David Bowie-inspired song peaked at number fourteen on the Canadian Top Singles Chart after it was released. On the US Cash Box Top 100, it was a modest hit at number eighty-three.
As far as Cummings is concerned, “Glamour Boy” is one of his personal favorites as it looked upon a rising star named David Bowie. At the time, Bowie was seen as a new threat to the music industry as it seemed to favor superficial appearances over musical talent. When looking back, Cummings now treats “Glamour Boy” as a tribute to the legendary star after he passed away in 2016.
The legacy of “Glamour Boy” made its mark in the 1998 movie, Last Night, as it was the song featured in Don McKellar’s apocalyptic Canadian comedy-drama. Since Bowie’s passing, “Glamour Boy” has taken on a new life of its own as a rock classic. 1973 also marked the year The Guess Who had two studio albums released that year. Artificial Paradise was the first while #10 was the second.
By this time, Randy Bachman was no longer part of the lineup as he moved on to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive. As lead vocalist, Burton Cummings kept The Guess Who as chart-hitting favorites in 1973 with “Glamour Boy” and the somewhat controversial “Follow Your Daughter Home.” Although Artificial Paradise’s “Follow Your Daughter Home” charted better on the music charts, “Glamour Boy” continues to stand out as the overall favorite between the two.
#7 – Raised on Robbery (performed by Joni Mitchell)
Although recorded and released as a single in 1973, “Raise on Robbery” technically belonged to the 1974 release of Joni Mitchell’s sixth studio album, Court and Spark. This was a song about a prostitute who attempted to pick up a man who sat alone in a hotel. The lyrics had her reveal her life story in what became a failed attempt to win his interest.
Mitchell performed this wonderfully sultry song with her signature acoustic guitar style that made her one of Canada’s most popular recording artists of all time. She was accompanied by Robbie Robertson’s electric guitar play that added the rock element “Raised on Robbery” needed to turn it into the cult classic it has become today. Together, the two laid out a stellar performance that laid out a classic huntress seeking out her prey in the brazen quest for some romantic action.
#6 – I’m a Dreamer (performed by Scrubbaloe Caine)
From 1970 until 1975, Scrubbaloe Caine was a Canadian rock group that earned a Juno Award nomination for Most Promising Group in 1974. This came about after the 1973 release of its sole album, Round One. It produced two hit singles for the band. “Feelin’ Good on Sunday” was a popular favorite among Canadian country music fans while “I’m a Dreamer” won over the nation’s rockers. Fans of Loverboy may recognize Paul Dean as he was one of the founding members of Scrubbaloe Caine, along with Al Foreman, Jim Harmata, Bob Kidd, and Henry Small.
Originally known as Cannonball, the group toured across Canada before Kidd was replaced by Jim Kale. In 1972, the band relocated from Calgary, Alberta, to Toronto, Ontario. It would be here it signed up with RCA Records to produce Round One. There was the intention to release a second album in 1975 with Bronco Records but it simply wasn’t meant to be. Dean left to join Streetheart before putting together Loverboy. Henry Small moved on, teaming up with Burton Cummings before he would eventually join Prism’s lineup.
“I’m a Dreamer” was an eclectic gem that came from the incredible talent pool Scrubbaloe Caine had to offer. Unfortunately for this lineup, the band never quite received the recognition it deserved as many fans will agree this was one of the most entertaining Canadian rock groups during the early 1970s. The debut recording of Round One was put together by a truly awesome band. While together, Foreman was the primary songwriter while Small was the vocalist.
As guitarists, Dean and Harmata shared a fantastic twin guitar sound that was perhaps even more enjoyable as a live act. “I’m a Dreamer” was a great appetizer of things to come from young talented musicians who were well on their way to becoming rock gods. As fate had it, those musicians would go their separate ways, earning a name for themselves as each of their careers continued to blossom cleanly through the 1970s and the 1980s.
#5 – Close Your Eyes (performed by Edward Bear)
The Canadian pop-rock trio known as Edward Bear released its fourth and final studio album, Close Your Eyes, in 1973. Written by Larry Evoy, “Close Your Eyes” was a sequel to the group’s most recognized hit, “Last Song.” On the Canadian Top Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number three. It was a number thirty-seven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also a popular favorite on the US Adult Contemporary Songs chart as it peaked as high as number eleven.
Founded in 1966 by Larry Evoy and Craig Hemming, Edward Bear named itself after A.A. Milne’s infamous “Winnie the Pooh.” Hemming didn’t stay with the bluesy rock group for long and was promptly replaced by Danny Marks and Paul Weldon. As a trio, Edward Bear signed a record deal in 1969 that shifted from bluesy rock to bluesy pop. 1969’s Bearings was the group’s debut album before Marks left the lineup and he was replaced by Roger Ellis. Going into 1973, Edward Bear was already enjoying a successful run as one of Canada’s favorite musical acts. At one point, they even opened for the iconic Led Zeppelin.
1973’s “Close Your Eyes” picked up where Edward Bear’s greatest hit, “Last Song” left off. Although not quite as popular, it worked as an ideal follow-up that still has many fans insisting these two songs play together, back to back, especially on radio stations covering classic rock favorites. 1973 was Edward Bear’s year as the group won a Juno Award for Outstanding Group Performance. However, Evoy was the only member left of a group that would officially disband in 1974.
#4 – Let It Ride (performed by Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
Recorded for BTO’s, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, “Let It Ride” was a single that wasn’t officially released until 1974. It became a number twenty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as a number three hit on the Canadian Top Singles Chart. It was a song that came to Randy Bachman and his bandmates after a 1973 tour where they supported The Doobie Brothers. The bus they were traveling in was boxed in by a couple of big rigs until all three vehicles reached a rest stop. This led to the musicians having a confrontation with the truckers involved. What they received as a response was to calm down and just “Let It Ride.”
Between the straightforward lyrics and the unmistakable guitar riffs, “Let It Ride” quickly became a classic the moment fans heard it on the radio. It, along with “Takin’ Care of Business,” instrumentally played a role in the commercial success of BTO’s second studio album. To this day, classic rock radio stations in Canada, as well as America, often play “Let It Ride” as fans can’t seem to get enough of what’s become a favorite highway tune, including truckers.
#3 – Pretty Lady (by Lighthouse)
Written by Lighthouse’s lead singer, Skip Prokop, “Pretty Lady” was an incredible song addressing a love interest that won over his heart, even though he felt it was a futile attempt. Its 1973 release had it become a number nine hit on the Canadian Top Singles Chart, as well as a number fifty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.
This fun little tune has since become a cult classic, as well as Lighthouse’s signature song. Founded in 1969 in Toronto, Ontario, Lighthouse got its start after vocalist Skip Prokop met with keyboardist Paul Hoffert on a flight returning to Canada from New York City. What made “Pretty Lady” so appealing was the mix of garage and orchestra-style music by Prokop, Ralph Cole, Dale Hillary, and Larry Smith. The singing combination of these men beautifully paired up with an arrangement of instruments made this song an easy favorite for fans who were especially drawn to easy-listening rock music.
#2 – Painted Ladies (performed by Ian Thomas)
Released as a single in 1973, “Painted Ladies” came from Ian Thomas, the self-titled debut album that marked his launch as a solo artist. On the Canadian Top Singles Chart, it became a number-four hit. It peaked as high as number thirty-four on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was the song that earned him a 1974 Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year. It also launched what became a successful career for the rocker as one of Canada’s favorite musical acts throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Still performing today, Ian Thomas continues to draw in fans who love his brand of rock and roll music.
“Painted Ladies” was a song about a group of dancers belonging to a Toronto-based nightclub Thomas used to visit. The vehicles mentioned in the song were a reference to the traffic coming to and fro the Toronto International Airport. At the time, there was a string of popular strip clubs in the area that kept locals and visitors entertained while there. The clavinet performance that made “Painted Ladies” stand out came from John Capek. “Painted Ladies,” was the first of many hits released by Ian Thomas and has stood the test of time as a Canadian rock classic.
#1 – Takin’ Care of Business (performed by Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
Easily the most popular song from Bachman-Turner Overdrive is “Takin’ Care of Business.” Overall, it remains near the top as one of the most beloved classic rock songs of all time. Recorded in 1973 for the group’s second studio album, it wasn’t until 1974 that it was officially released as a single. When Randy Bachman wrote this song, he was still part of The Guess Who’s lineup. It was inspired by a technician who used to work with his old group, taking a morning train each day to reach the recording studio.
When there was an attempt to record this song while still with The Guess Who, Bachman’s bandmate at the time, Burton Cummings, felt doing so would lead to a legal battle with The Beatles. The riffs and melodies were too close to the Fab Four’s hit, “Paperback Writer.” This incident served as a catalyst that would prompt Randy Bachman to leave the lineup and form his own rock band. The disappointment Cummings directly expressed against Bachman didn’t help the relations the two men had with each other at the time.
“Takin’ Care of Business” became BTO’s signature hit after it was recorded in 1973, then released in 1974. Designed as an autobiographical peek into the lifestyle of active rockers, it was a song about playing through the wee hours of the night before sleeping off the day. The inspiration for the song’s title came from a Vancouver-based DJ named Daryl B as Bachman caught the catchphrase while listening to him on the radio. Originally, “Takin’ Care of Business” was supposed to be titled “White Collar Worker.”
“Takin’ Care of Business” has become so much more than just a classic rock song. It became an important piece of pop culture that still influences people around the world today. When it was first released as a single, it peaked as high as number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became a number three hit on the Canadian Top Singles Chart. This hard rock song with a bluesy base and an incredible burst of guitar riffs and piano quickly became legendary. Prior to Elvis Presley’s death, he was inspired to adapt “Takin’ Care of Business (in a Flash)” as part of a motto.
Trademarked with a lightning bolt, this popular motto became a feature on the late great recording artist’s airplane. It also became (and still is) a popular symbol on Presley-related merchandise. Before his untimely death, Elvis Presley had become as much of a fan of BTO as Randy Bachman and his group were fans of him. Even today, “Takin’ Care of Business” remains on top as BTO’s most recognized signature song. Even today, the filming industry loves to use it for commercials and as part of a musical score for different scenes in movies and television.
Top 10 Canadian Rock Songs Of 1973 article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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