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The Young Canadians

The Young Canadians - Hawaii EP -12

Hawaii EP -12" EP
Quintessence - 1980

Michael Panontin
The Young Canadians emerged in 1979 alongside D.O.A., the Pointed Sticks, the Dishrags, and the Subhumans in that enormously, if somewhat belatedly, fecund Vancouver punk scene. Born the K-Tels in February 1979 after playing at the infamous O'Hara's St. Valentine's Day Massacre benefit, they swiftly ascended the west coast punk ladder, scooping the top prize in the Vancouver Free Press Battle of the Bands in June of that year.

They naively ignored cease-and-desist orders from the Winnipeg-based K-Tel Records, home to such seventies K-Mart fare as Superbad and Fantastic - 22 Original Hits, 22 Original Stars. Until, that is, the proverbial feces hit the ventilator, here in the form of a 30-page writ delivered personally (no doubt with the evil lawyer lurking nefariously backstage) after a late-July slot out at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University. The boys wisely opted to switch rather than fight, hence the name change (singer/guitarist Art Bergmann called it "a jest against...upright young Canadians"). With this new, admittedly ironic moniker in place, the boys once again courted unsolicited attention, this time a dose of Yankee sycophancy south of the border in California when patriotic patrons showered them in free booze as thanks for Canada's role in ending the Iranian hostage crisis.

The ornery 'I Hate Music' marked their vinyl debut on Quintessence's 1979 Vancouver Complication comp, paving the way for the 12" Hawaii EP early the following year. After it was issued on January 31, 1980, the 33 1/3 12" Hawaii EP became the fastest-selling punk/new wave platter to date in B.C., flipping some 1,500 copies in 25 days. The token profanity aside - it comes off a tad cliche in retrospect - the title cut's infectious shout-out ("Let's go to fuckin' Hawaii, get drunk in the sun!") ultimately wriggled its way into Vancouver's underground psyche. "Hullabaloo", on side 2, wavers a bit from the formula, with a staccato bass line and potent chords that swerve into quirky, hiccupy vocals typical for the time, and a cheery Farfisa to gird them. The Canadians' polished, even graceful punk-lite permeates the whole EP, though it's the bonus 7" Automan EP (free with the first batch of pressings) that is the high point, especially the punchy urgency of 'Where Are You?' on the flip.

The lads would issue one more record, the jangly, new wave This Is Your Life EP before passing the torch. Colourful frontman Art Bergmann - he in the Hawaiian shirts - would ride out the eighties heading Los Popularos before going solo. (Check out the Young Canadians entire discog on Sudden Death's swell No Escape comp.)


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