Rock and roll / Rock et roll
August 30, 2012 1:37 PM   Subscribe

While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar.

In 1996, Big Sugar decided to record a French-language version of their single “Open Up Baby.” The song, titled “Ouvre-toi Bébé”, was a big hit on Quebec radio stations. As a result, the band recorded French versions of each single they released from their 1999 follow-up album. The French songs were eventually compiled on an EP titled Chauffe à bloc.

In 2001, the band decided to go beyond just recording French versions of the singles and recorded an entire album in both official languages: Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready? / Brothers and Sisters, Êtes Vous Ready? The English version of the album was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2002 Juno Awards, while the French version included four French-only tracks not included on the English version.

After playing what was to be their final show on New Year's Eve, 2003, the band has since reformed and released a new full length album—in English only—in 2011.

Bonus links:

A few English songs: A few French songs:
posted by asnider (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Big Sugar is awesome. In the mid 1990s, every record store's $1 used bins always had at least one copy of Five Hundred Pounds. The Big Sugar logo on the US cover of that album was similar enough to (Bob Mould's) Sugar's that I always did a double take... I finally got curious enough to give it a listen, and found an album full of kick-ass driving blues flavored rock. (vis: Ride Like Hell)

I had not heard that they'd had gotten back together, thank you asnider! The new album is called Revolution Per Minute and is conveniently available on Spotify. (Hm, much heavier on the keyboards than their earlier stuff, at a quick listen.)

See also Gordie Johnson's other band, Grady.
posted by usonian at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had not heard that they'd had gotten back together.

I found out when I saw that they're going to be playing a free show in Edmonton this weekend (which is what inspired this post).
posted by asnider at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2012

Big Sugar is the loudest band I've ever seen. My ears are still ringing from a show in 2003.

Didn't know about the French language stuff, though. Interesting.
posted by rocket88 at 2:28 PM on August 30, 2012

I saw them in Calgary around 2003 and I can attest that they are LOUD. And awesome.

I miss 'Hugo Boss Gordy' though. That was one cool motherfucker.
posted by Phreesh at 2:41 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow...I paid two bucks to see Big Sugar in 1994, and it was one of the best (albeit loudest...too loud, really) shows I'd ever been to at that point. I had no idea they were still around!
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 2:43 PM on August 30, 2012

Caught Big Sugar last year for the first time and was unexpectedly blown away. What I'd heard before I'd thought ok, but their talent and presence didn't shine through the recorded material (as it usually doesn't, but this was a standout to me).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:45 PM on August 30, 2012

Wow, I had never heard of these people and now I'm really into them. It's like Nick Lowe was the songwriter for Slade.

Dear Canadian MeFites, Please share more of your music with us down here.
posted by neroli at 3:07 PM on August 30, 2012

Came to post Ride Like Hell. Truly one of the great rock n' roll tracks of all time - just bad-ass, hard driving riffage all over the place.

I also concur with the volume thing - I saw them in a little club as my first-ever show, and thanks to their volume plaster was raining down from the ceiling.

Thanks for the post.
posted by Palindromedary at 3:18 PM on August 30, 2012

Big Sugar is the loudest band I've ever seen. My ears are still ringing from a show in 1995.
posted by Cosine at 3:32 PM on August 30, 2012

neroli: check out the bass on 'Diggin a Hole'
posted by Cosine at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2012

Don't know if any of the links mentioned it but Gordy also had a wonderful habit of blowing the recording advances on musclecars.
posted by Cosine at 3:34 PM on August 30, 2012

Hmm, kind of digging these French versions. Ils sont cool.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:34 PM on August 30, 2012

Saw them live as well and yup, they were LOUD!

I was a big fan of their album Heated. It was on constant rotation for a couple of years. Turn The Lights On is an awesome track - if you're Canadian you had to live under a rock to not have heard it. Hammer in my Hand is another nifty track, but really, it's surrounded by a very solid album of great tunes. I think one of the things I like most about Big Sugar is their willingness to experiment with different sounds. That and their very solid drum and bass. I miss these guys and should probably check out their newest work.
posted by ashbury at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2012

I don't know much about Big Sugar (unfortunately; will check them out now), but I wanted to drop by to link to the french-translated Re Vos Cerveaux by the always-fun Jonathan Coulton.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought you could make any song French by inserting "Le" into it. Observe:
•Diggin’ Le Hole
•Le Nicotina
•All Hell For Le Basement
posted by Metro Gnome at 6:56 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Man, I haven't listened to Big Sugar in like a decade and a half. I loved 'em back in the nineties. Gotta fire some of that up tonight! Thanks for the post.

I've seen tons of metal shows, from 60-person clubs to 60,000-seat stadiums, and I also think that Big Sugar plays way too loud live. On the radio they are perfect tho.

Also: Wild Ox Moan
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:23 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah well, I saw them outdoors so they were perfect.

Wild Ox Moan is the Big Sugar classic. I don't know why I didn't notice it was missing.

They do a nice version of Let It Ride but no good recordings on Youtube, sadly.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2012

Also 2: Dear Mr. Fantasy

I love how HUGE Gordie's guitar tone is here. It just sounds monstrous when it kicks in after the acoustic intro...
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:46 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also: Wild Ox Moan

If I only ever needed one reason to log in to metafilter, it would be to favourite this. Jesus Christ, what an epic tune.
posted by klanawa at 5:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Divine Lorraine   |   Marikana Miners' Strike Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments