A music lover recently burned a compilation CD on his computer titled Northern Nuggets: Forgotten Sounds of the '60s. On it, he recorded a wonderful assortment of obscure songs by Canadians, including "One Single River (A Song for Canada)." Performed by Bob Dylan and The Band, the outtake from 1967's The Genuine Basement Tapes I-II was written by Ian Tyson and Peter Gzowski, no less. Sadly, there are no such curiosities on Oh What a Feeling 2, the four-CD box set issued to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Juno Awards. Like its 1996 predecessor, which sold an impressive 250,000 co-pies, the latest package favours only the best-known Canadian songs of the last four decades. Still, as a collection that features everyone from singer-songwriters Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to rappers Choclair and The Rascalz, Oh What a Feeling 2 serves as a useful -- and mostly enjoyable -- reminder of the strength of this country's musical heritage.
Compiled by a music industry team led by Randy Lennox, head of Universal Music Canada, and Larry LeBlanc, Canadian editor of Billboard magazine, the new box set offers 76 tracks spanning four decades. Disc One opens with the divas who have dominated Canadian music for the last decade, Shania Twain, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Jann Arden and Chantal Kreviazuk, before moving through various pop and hip-hop numbers. The second disc serves up the 1970s hard-rock sounds of Trooper, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Lee Aaron and Helix -- all noticeably absent from the first box set -- and then segues into tracks by contemporary alt-rockers 54-40, Sloan, Matthew Good Band and Our Lady Peace. Disc Three is the most chronologically cohesive, weighted heavily on songs from the 1970s, including the Guess Who's "Share the Land" and Nick Gilder's "Hot Child in the City." But the best is reserved for the final disc, which focuses almost exclusively on the singer-songwriters, including Bruce Cockburn and Jane Siberry, who have given Canada its reputation as a rich breeding ground for musical talent. Although it offers no surprises -- every good box set needs at least a couple of rarities -- Oh What a Feeling 2 proves that Canadian music has never been stronger or more vibrant.
Maclean's March 5th 2001