Ah, now here’s a song that all manner of arena- and stadium-goers are apt to recognize. At #98 on Huffington Post’s 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever is Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell,” a catchy, fun tune featuring judicious use of hand-claps and some fine life advice.
Trooper is a legendary Canadian band with a number of hits worthy of this list. They’ve reached platinum, double- and quadruple-platinum status with a series of records (platinum being 100,000 units, although this was revised to 80,000 as of May 1, 2008). Songs like “The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car,” “General Hand Grenade,” and “Two For the Show” were massive hits in their own right, and still ring familiar today. However, “Raise a Little Hell” was Trooper’s only song to chart in the US, so I assume that US charts and/or commercial prominence are important to this Best Songs list although the authors’ criteria is not made known. Perhaps it’s 100% subjective, and all this talk of metrics is nonsense.
Regardless, Trooper began in Vancouver in 1975, but tugging the thread of its history leads us back to 1967, when singer Ramon McGuire and guitarist Brian Smith first launched a musical partnership called Winter’s Green (which, in Vancouver, it generally is). As the 60s became the 70s, Winter’s Green became Applejack, a band which largely worked playing covers with a few originals thrown into the set list. Although it didn’t make it to record until 1978, “Raise A Little Hell” was already gracing the ears of audiences early that decade. Applejack caught the ear of the Guess Who’s former guitarist Randy Bachman, who signed the group to his Legacy label. The band released a self-titled debut in 1975 as Trooper, with Bachman at the producer’s helm. Trooper moved to MCA Records as it continued to record, but Bachman remained as producer, and Trooper was now a major national touring band managed by the formidable Sam Feldman.
By the time “Raise a Little Hell” appeared on 1978s Thick as Thieves, their fourth studio album and first double-platinum, Trooper was well-established. Thieves gave way to a few more multi-platinum records, Juno awards, and personnel changes including the release of Bachman as producer in 1980. Although the late 70s stand as the band’s great creative period, they continued issuing studio recordings through 1991, and continue to appear live to this day, notably launching their 35th Anniversary Tour with a performance at Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics Victory Ceremonies. Meanwhile, the band has donated much of their archives to Library and Archives Canada, a 30-song punk tribute to Trooper called Spot Shots was released in 2001 featuring some of Vancouver’s renowned punk bands (which is topic for another post), and in 2006 Ra McGuire released an autobiography, Here for a Good Time, which I’m eager to get my hands on.
The book takes its title from another great song from Trooper’s extensive catalog (and my personal favourite). “Here for a Good Time,” although unlikely to ring through sports stadiums on game days, is worthy of anthemic status in its own right. In fact, it seems the perfect accompaniment as the rains of spring, we hope, give way to the sunshine of summer.