The most popular Canadian compilation of all time
September 14, 2021 3:09 PM   Subscribe

An oral history of Big Shiny Tunes, a series of alt rock compilation albums (example) released by MuchMusic.
posted by a feather in amber (31 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just found my original Big Shiny Tunes CD. It is.. . A time capsule. I look forward to reading this.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 3:23 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


I never had the CDs because I was a student on a limited budget so I'd buy the albums of the artists I really liked and record the singles off the radio for the other stuff. And then Napster and mp3s happened which to me made the compilation CD format a bit pointless.

MuchMusic back then was an amazing channel and I really wish it could have survived. A lot of the VJs really cared about music and the programming was supportive enough that they'd get the chance to showcase the genres that they really liked.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:41 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


my boo was a muchmusic video dance party vj
posted by avocet at 3:54 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]


Interesting.

Hadn't thought about Big Shiny Tunes in years, until a couple of summers ago where we were helping the inlaws clean out some old stuff in their house, and returned home with my husband's Much Dance Mix '93 through '96 CDs that he bought in high school.

I think of Much Dance Mix as Big Shiny Tunes for the Electric Circus crowd.

Rhythm is indeed a dancer.

A lot of the VJs really cared about music and the programming was supportive enough that they'd get the chance to showcase the genres that they really liked.

Speaking of Much VJs...

Many years ago I once saw Master T outside of MuchMusic headquarters frantically waving his arms at a guy who was crossing Queen Street.

The guy was watching traffic and it was apparent that he didn't see the pile of turds from a police horse next to the curb.

The guy was also wearing sandals.

He saw and heard Master T trying to warn him: "Dude! Hey dude look out --" which backfired because the guy got a sudden look of recognition on his face that said, "OH HEY YOU'RE MASTER T!" just as he made to the horse turds and sank his leading foot into them.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:14 PM on September 14 [20 favorites]


Robin Dann (Bernice, Big Bonky Tones): My older brother was always my north star in terms of how to be cool as a kid. I was 10 when the first BST came out and I remember listening to it through his closed bedroom door and later stealing it for my Discman. Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters and Radiohead were all bands I got angsty to.

Ha. This feels like an answer to one of those "Tell people how old you are without stating your age" Twitter challenges.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:28 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


A time capsule.

Very useful for pin-pointing when I stopped listening to rock music*. I probably still know the lyrics to everything before BST 6 in 2001 with Limp Bizkit & Blink-182, but the list dwindles and dwindles until BST 11 in 2006 where I know the bands but could not tell you anything about the songs even if you put a gun to my head (With the exception of the Nickleback song, which, given the choice, I would prefer the gun).

my boo was a muchmusic video dance party vj

You must have been swimming in Oh Henry bars

*I used to be with ‘it’, but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ anymore and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scarystupid and annoying. It’ll happen to you!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:35 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


brb gonna set the VCR to tape the Power Hour
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:37 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Ha! My internet girlfriend in Canada in the late-90s-early-00s sent me a bunch of these (I don't have them any more), and I am pretty sure I discovered, and loved, Moist/David Usher, Econoline Crush, POE, and maybe one or two other bands or artists through them. I sent her Powderfinger and Something For Kate and Regurgitator and Paradise Motel singles in return.

Compilation albums at that time were so good (e.g. Kill Rock Stars/Rock Stars Kill/Stars Kill Rock, some Secretly Canadian compilations I may be imagining, etc.), could be had for a buck or two at any secondhand record store, and I found so much stuff through them that I love to this day.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:15 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Bif Naked: I was really surprised by how well "I Love Myself Today" was received, because I was worried that the lyrics were too silly. I think it was just the right time for the right song. You can't go wrong if you get a chance to co-write with Desmond Child. He just has such a way with melody.

It stands up as a song. And illustrates that era of the "video must have a concept fused with a performance" aesthetic!

Alright, now that we're going down memory lane here, RetroOntario has a pretty good bunch of old Much clips.

my boo was a muchmusic video dance party vj

For anyone reading this thread who is asking "What is this MuchMusic you speak of, and what of these video dance parties?" I present to you the way in which one would go about procuring such a video dance party:

MUCHMUSIC VIDEO DANCE PARTY (1990)

"Give us a call toll free..."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:21 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


brb gonna set the VCR to tape the Power Hour

I used to tape Citylimits religiously (it was on super late, on Friday nights) and my friends would come over to watch it. The Wedge came on at more reasonable times and more regularly so I didn't feel the need.
posted by rodlymight at 5:41 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


MuchMusic was never better than when they let Weird Al take it over (on multiple occasions).
posted by oulipian at 6:34 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]


No Jonny Hanson's Puck Rock was the most important Canadian compilation of all time.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:56 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


I think of Much Dance Mix as Big Shiny Tunes for the Electric Circus crowd.

I have spent much of the last eighteen months plundering the BBC back catalogue for panel shows. I was delighted once when it came up entirely by chance that two different guests on a circa-2018 BBC light comedy show found they had both been employed as dancers on Electric Circus. Katherine Ryan is from Sarnia, ON and Marcus Brigstocke is from Guilford, Surrey (but spent a gap year in Canada). They were born a decade apart, though, so unfortunately they weren’t at EC at the same time. Tragic.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:24 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


About Moist, I saw them live at a festival... holy crap, the girls we're screaming so loudly at David Usher I thought my ear drums would just burst.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:11 PM on September 14


In a better Canada, Big Wreck would have been filling stadiums for the last 25 years and Rush would have been relegated to niche indie obscurity. But here we are, tragically.
posted by mhoye at 8:38 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


In a better Canada

In Ultimate Canada, Helix would have buried. them. all.
posted by Sauce Trough at 8:46 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


(Also, if you've got the right eyes, you can look at the BST track list over time and tell exactly when Napster hit the net.)
posted by mhoye at 8:48 PM on September 14


Wow, so I lived through the time and I did watch a bit of Much Music but never heard of these compilation albums. I'm only vaguely familiar with some of the performers. I'm now going to have a weird go-back-in-time-to-something-i-never-knew experience.
posted by storybored at 8:49 PM on September 14


In Ultimate Canada, Helix would have buried. them. all.

Sir does the name Voivod mean nothing to you.
posted by mhoye at 8:58 PM on September 14 [9 favorites]


oh sir let me assure you that Voivod means everything to me - I think The Wake is not just a return to form record, but a record that shows that the Voivod organism has seven distinct larval phases that extend over 32 years and it is just now emerging into full adulthood and power.

Alas, you could rerun a million iterations of the timeline and Voivod would never be hyped on a Big Shiny Tunes release.

And Helix is hilarious yo.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:11 PM on September 14


This is me in grad school baby, this is me in grad school

Listening to these songs is a form of time travel. Sitting in my basement suite wearing layers of fleece because it was so damn cold. Listening to my Big Shiny Tunes CDs while inventing vegan dishes that I could cook with just a hot plate and toaster oven. Trying to write essays with MuchMusic on in the background. Ah youth.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:22 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]


And Helix is hilarious yo.

Helix is a local band for me now (was?) and was popular enough that they even spawned a local cover band (Heavy Metal Love? I think that's what they were called). I did have a brush with fame with them. About 15 years ago, we were looking at spaces to rent for our business in old industrial buildings and we started chatting with one of the other tenants about security in the building, that sort of thing. After we finished up chatting with the guy who made cast iron art, my business partner turned to me and said "Do you know who that was?" I had no idea of course. "That's so and so from Helix!" My partner was crestfallen that I only vaguely remembered them, and mostly just for their "Rock You" song. A banger, as the kids say.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:09 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Evvvvvveryone had BST2. I remember being at a library school party where the host, who owned like five CDs, just kept playing that one over and over again all night. I also remember this party better than most because I hooked up after it ended, which was...not a common occurrence for me.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:11 AM on September 15


My wife is Canadian, and she asked me to please, please stop being so enthusiastic about Canadian rock music.

I don't see what's wrong with loving Econoline Crush, Our Lady Peace, The Tragically Hip, Matthew Good, and my other favorites.

Oh, didn't I mention? When I was a kid Staten Island Cable inexplicably carried Much Music, and no one told me that this was FOREIGN music television.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:03 AM on September 15 [6 favorites]


I associate BST with a period working at a record store while I was in school, one of those franchises with mall outlets. We slapped some price stickers on a few of those units, let me tell ya. So many Can Rock memories: Philosopher Kings, Wide Mouth Mason, Junkhouse, the Tea Party, Sass Jordan. We spent entire shifts saying "Sass Jordan" a lot because why wouldn't you.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:04 AM on September 15


I was in Grade 10 when the first Big Shiny Tunes album was released. I remember getting it for Christmas that year and obsessively listening to it over the break so I'd be prepared to talk about all the cool bands when we went back to school in January.

The first three albums were basically the soundtrack of my high school life, and in those pre Napster days the only way to pick up on what type of music was out there.

I recently listened to BST 1-3 again and for the most part they have all held up as great compliations. I would give the edge to BST 3 in terms of quality but all of them are massive nostalgia trips. So many awkward school dances with Matthew Good and Our Lady Peace playing in the background!
posted by fortitude25 at 7:15 AM on September 15


In a better Canada, Big Wreck would have been filling stadiums for the last 25 years and Rush would have been relegated to niche indie obscurity. But here we are, tragically.

They may have got the last laugh, if the frequency I hear that Woo! You drive around my dog song coming from a coworker’s radio is any indication.
posted by rodlymight at 7:57 AM on September 15


Here in Quebec I had no access to MuchMusic but I did have its French-language equivalent, MusiquePlus. That channel played a huge role in defining my musical tastes as a teenager in the 90s, and it also introduced me to hip hop (I can distinctly remember standing, completely enraptured, by MC Solaar's 'Nouveau Western') and an avalanche of French-language artists I never would have heard anywhere else.

For that, and for its unswerving devotion to broadcasting Euro dance music, I am forever grateful #bougedelà
posted by jordantwodelta at 9:33 AM on September 15 [6 favorites]


My life is a stereo
posted by avocet at 1:37 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, avocet. There's a blast from the past. That's some quality CanCon right there.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:05 PM on September 15


Here in Quebec I had no access to MuchMusic but I did have its French-language equivalent, MusiquePlus.

GASP. For me in BC in the late 1990s, MusiquePlus was the HEIGHT of sophistication. Probably only to myself.
posted by urbanlenny at 4:59 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]


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