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CANO - Spirit Of the North CD (album) cover

SPIRIT OF THE NORTH

CANO

 

Prog Folk

3.95 | 3 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars A premature compilation, "Spirit of the North" seems to have been a largely failed attempt to repackage Cano as the band next door, which they could never be. For one thing, they were part of a cooperative of several dozen artists. For another, the hindsight of decades has exposed the extent to which Cano was ahead of its time. While that is surely a compliment for any band, it tends to work against commercial success, and it did. They were also devastated by the untimely deaths of two of their key members, among whom Andre Paiement had committed suicide a mere two years prior, and Wasyl Kohut suffered an aneurysm in 1980.

What we have here is a well chosen showcase of Cano's fusion of jazz with folk and pop, including several good songs not previously available on an album. The most noteworthy of these is "Carrie", which ostensibly became a Cliff Richard "hit" before our intrepid Northern Ontarians could come to market, and make a splash on the Canadian charts at #78 (!). It was penned by Terry Britten who later wrote "What's Love Got to do with it" for Tina Turner, but if you think Greg Kihn crossed with Russ Ballard you are closer. Lyrically it fits with the sunlight deprived climes which are Cano's stock in trade, and the chorus is catchy while still being creatively off kilter.

From the previously released material, the highlight is "Spirit of the North", an instrumental powerhouse set in the wilds of Canada as sure as Lynyrd Skynyrd reflects the deep south. The gull sounds are almost not needed amidst Kohut's electric fiddle extravaganza. He also steals the show in "Baie St Marie" and kickstarts "Long Way", a jazzy vocal showcase for the group that retains enough of their folk roots to please both camps, while a pretty fair rock song as well. If you are more inclined to Rachel's sensuous voice, "Sometimes the Blues" should work wonders.

While this particular retrospective may be hard to come by, Universal has issued a 20th Century Masters collection, and I recommend you listen to Cano in the creative spirit in which they thrived, albeit briefly, to the north of our lives.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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