Fri, Dec 21, 2012.
George Canyon grew up with a deep love of the hits on the radio. Not just country either; the Pictou Co., N.S. boy found lots to listen to on the rock stations, too. Then we he started his career, he played more than his share of bars, with the much-needed covers repetoire. To this day, he still loves a good cover, even recording and releasing some surprising ones along the way, including his hit version of Crowded House's Better Be Home Soon.
But country is where he hangs his hat, and when it comes to the old favourites, he's a human jukebox. Whether its later stuff, but especially old hits, he can play karaoke with anyone. He's already made an album full with Classics, and now Classics II follows in the same path. Canyon conjures up the spirit and fun of 15 numbers that stretch from Hank Williams (Jambalaya, I'm So Lonesome I Could Try) to the Outlaw era (Waylon's Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line). What's interesting is how he walks that line between being faithful, and being George. He has an ability to sound just a little like the original singer, yet, still add his own touch in that rich rural voice. So even a song like Together Again, the Buck Owens number perhaps better known these days from EmmyLou Harris, has a touch of her sound.
You'll know almost all the songs here, whether you paid attention to the country charts or not. King Of The Road, Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Green, Green, Grass Of Home, they are all good choices. There's not much you can do to improve on Pancho And Lefty, either the Willie and Merle version, or the Townes Van Zandt original, so Canyon does the Canadian thing, and invites Jim Cuddy along for a singalong. Hey, they sound good together. Instead of a duet dreamed up in the corporate boardroom, I bet this one was hatched on the hockey rink.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).