Okay, now that the Pig & Whistle bullshit it over with we can get back on track with some real Canadian music worthy of celebration, like the eponymous album by 54.40.
54.40 is a Canadian alternative rock group from Vancouver, British Columbia, who take their name from the slogan “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!”, coined to express the unsuccessful expansionist agenda of James K. Polk’s presidency, intent upon controlling a contested U.S.-Canada border area in the Oregon boundary dispute.
How many of you Canadians knew that?
Anyway, the group formed in 1981 as a trio consisting of Brad Merritt (bass), Ian Franey (drums), and Neil Osborne (vocals and guitar) and this is their 2nd official album released in 1986. The album began attracting attention from radio and record buyers across Canada, with the single ‘Baby Ran‘ (still my favorite track by the band) gaining significant college radio airplay. The album is has been nicknamed ‘The Green Album‘ by fans because the album artwork consists of mostly green fill. So, yeah, maybe we Canadians don’t exactly flourish in our naming conventions, what can I say?
The other great track that most Canadians will probably know from the album is ‘I Go Blind‘. You Yanks might recognize this as the song later (and regrettably) covered by Hootie & the Blowfish.
Sad but true.
‘Grace and Beauty‘, ‘Me Island‘ and ‘Holy Cow‘ are darker and more psychedelic, seemingly referring to the post-punk angst of bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Chameleons. ‘Take My Hand‘ is also pretty sweet although it has likely been erased from most Canadian’s memories. ‘Alcohol Heart‘ is also a wicked little number. When it comes down to it, while the first side contains all the memorable “hits” it’s really the second side that has all the standout tracks in my mind. Whatever you do, don’t get impatient and change the album once you hear the “Big Two”. You wouldn’t be doing your country, yourself, or the band any justice.