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BUSKER

Symphonic Prog • Canada


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Busker biography
BUSKER was a two-man outfit from the "Great White North" of Ontario Canada. Steve McCann, and Randy Dawdy's first collaboration was in a high school production of "Hair." However, there was more to this duo than that humble beginning. Steve has earned degrees in music theory and composition, and won an Ontario Arts Council songwriting competition. Randy had previously been a member of Max Webster, and Whitehorse. London, Ontario is also home to The University of Western Ontario. College towns are well known as fertile ground for artistic expression. On Labor Day 1973, they decided to form a band. The intention was to play music with jazz, prog, and classical influences.

The debut album, "On Any Street Corner," was released in 1975. It is described as being derived mainly from funk and rock, and was sold mainly at shows, and local stores. On their next effort, BUSKER began to flex more prog muscle. 1979's "Impressions of a City" was a suite based on life in the London area. It was received well by the press, and helped to strengthen their cult following.

Never wanting to repeat themselves, Steve and Randy created a different experience with each album. In 1980 they "responded" to the New Wave movement with "Shakin' All Over." In 1982 they offered the jazzy island sounds of "Summernightsmusic." Walter Carlos and Kraftwerk must have been on the turntable when they came up with the electronic "Blitzkrieg" in 1984.

They toured rigorously, and built a loyal following. Yet, major label interested eluded them. Regular jobs, and family obligations finally won out, and BUSKER was retired. Randy continued to perform with the likes of Dave Hoy, The King Street Daddies, and WRIF WRAF. Steve became a bar owner, but did return to music. More recently, he has recorded a trilogy of tropical inspired solo albums.

Seemingly out of nowhere, something new appeared from BUSKER. In 2007, the album Northern Fantasies was released. It is a concept album, originating in 1973, that was inspired during their days on the road. It began as a set of four-track demo recordings from that time. Tracks that were included on other albums were used to round it out. However, this not a collection of lost songs. The entire project was done with a new perpective in 2007.

Since all of the tracks were revisited for the new recording, BUSKER was somewhat resurrected. JD Dinsdale describes their current status as more of an active band than E.L.P., but not quite a...
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BUSKER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BUSKER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.12 | 4 ratings
On Any Street Corner
1976
2.50 | 2 ratings
Impressions of a City
1979
1.00 | 1 ratings
Shakin' All Over
1980
2.00 | 2 ratings
Summernightsmusic
1982
3.00 | 1 ratings
Blitzkrieg
1984
3.11 | 5 ratings
Northern Fantasies
2007

BUSKER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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BUSKER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Summernightsmusic by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Summernightsmusic
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars In 1982 Busker returned with their fourth release, the privately-pressed ''Summernightsmusic''.With Steve McCann admiting he was more influenced by Jazz and Tropical Music at the time and callin' this one an ''Island album'', ''Summernightsmusic'' was completed with the participation of some guest musicians, Bill Koluk played the bass in four tracks, Steve Horner, Darcy Irvine and Maurice Wozniak provided the sporadic trumpet, flute and trombone tunes.

Let's face the truth, it has been quite some time that Busker were interested in Prog Rock, with ''Summernightsmusic'' they just put the farewell notes to their slightly E.L.P.-influenced days.This is a collection of poppy short tunes with a jazzy background and unbearable vocals and nothing reminds of Busker's mediocre attempts to play keyboard Prog anymore.With hillarious lyrics and choirs, Cabaret-like piano lines, acoustic guitars and dated organs they recall more of the 60's than the 80's, this fact along with McCann's voice, which still resembles to the one of GREG LAKE, are the only things to admire in this album.All the remaining facts circulate around bland Pop Music with wannabe-ethereal and -tropical vibes with the most dreadful American influences both on vocal and music tones, as the duo struggles to compose trully enjoyable and tricky tunes.First and last track to escape from the rule was ''Pipe dream'', which actually is not interesting at all, but somehow offers a fresh break between all these dull moments.It was an attempt by McCann to introduce Electronic Music into his palette, but the result was more of an experimental composition with abstract Casio keyboard sounds popping up.Narcotic and slightly psychedelic stuff with no specific ups or downs.

I won't take much more space for this work.This is typical Busker.A band that wanted to sound a bit proggy, but ended up to sound uninteresting, directionless, very commercial and extremely predictable.End of the ''Summernightsmusic'' story.

 Shakin' All Over by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.00 | 1 ratings

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Shakin' All Over
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
1 stars Despite their rather tasteless and directionless music Busker reputedly had a cult fan following during their 70's heydays across Canada and the northern part of USA.Entering the 80's the duo of Steve McCann and Randy Dawdy produced their third and maybe rarest of their early LP's, entitled ''Shakin' all over''.

With such a very Rock'n'Roll title the music comes for the first time as fully representative of Busker's sound.Any attempt on crossing by the Prog borders has been quit, but even so the chosen style is pretty dated and played without inspiration.Awful vocals, cheesy lyrics and a totally amateur level of musicianship hold no particular interest for music fans.Busker played a Boggie Rock'n'Roll in ''Shakin' all over'', which comes closer to PAUL ANKA than any serious rock band actually, and fails to catch the listener's attention as being completely commercial, forgettable and dull.And all these come despite the good instrumental armour full of guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers and vintage keyboards.Some of the tracks contain limited instrumental parts with dominant keyboard exercises akin to their early E.L.P. influences, but as their masters Busker have taken a wrong direction around the timr, trying to combine Country, Blues, Rock'n'Roll and Art Rock with the result being a total mess of dreadful tunes.

Record companies turned their backs on Busker and with works such as ''Shakin' all over'' it is not hard to imagine why.A total failure with lack of serious material and only a slight chance to be praised by music fans stuck in the music of 50's and 60's.

 Impressions of a City by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Impressions of a City
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars The duo of Steve McCann and Randy Dawdy moved on to a second album in 1979 with the title ''Impressions Of A City''.They recorded the album in their own studio and this was actually dedicated to their hometown home town of London, Ontario.

The whole opening side of the LP consists of the eponymous 19-min. prog suite, divided in six parts, where finally the duo offers some decent musicianship.A good Symphonic Rock composition with strong E.L.P. influences and multiple keyboard arrangements as well as some cool guitar parts.The vocals remain a bit cheesy and the production is unfortunately of a basement level, hurting the diverse keyboard work of McCann, still this tracks contains plenty of fine instrumental themes with strong harsichord parts, jazzy piano lines and nervous synths.

The flipside is unfortunately disastrous.The quality drops significantly and Busker show again their horrible, cheesy side with tons of dull moments offered in a mix of light Prog, Pop Rock and Soul-Funk.Tracks like ''Mexico'', ''Copacabana'' or ''Tell Me You Love Me'' sound absolutely childish with awful brass sections, amateur keyboard parts and cliche, syrupy choruses of the worst quality.

A very uneven album of minor interest, still a bit better than their bad debut due to the decent performances on the long opening prog suite.Recommended only for die-hard fans of Symphonic Rock.

 On Any Street Corner by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.12 | 4 ratings

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On Any Street Corner
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

1 stars Supposedly a Canadian prog band,Busker were actually a duo from Ontario formed in 1973 and featuring Steve McCann on keys,guitars and arrangements and Randy Dawdy on drums,percussion and lead vocals.Randy had also spent little time with hard rockers Max Webster before joining McCann on Busker.The duo released their debut ''On Any Street Corner'' in 1976.

The sound of the band on the first three tracks is very uneven and also quite dated for the year 1976.While the keyboard work has strong Classical influences,when vocals enter the style is closer to Psychedelic Pop/Rock in THE BEATLES vein than any prog-related path.Still the harpsichord,organ,moog synth and clavinet of McCann delivers some quite decent notes.From now on the album has a rapid downfall,like on the absolutely horrible ''Time to boogie'' which closes the first side of the LP and sounds more like a NEIL SEDAKA track!!!The whole flipside is no better,not to say even worse than the opening one.All kind of commercial-oriented music like cheap straight rock,Pop Rock,Psychedelic Pop and Funk can be found here,but no signs of Progressive Rock,just some hints of bearable keyboard work.The worst thing is actually that even these tracks are far from memorable without traces of inspiring music,a below average production and often out-of-tune vocals.

As the album has never seen a re-issue till today and it is quite rare,it would be more than unfair to spent a high amount of money to listen to such cheap music.But even if it does,better avoid it at even the lower cost...Ok,add another half star for the decent sum of five minutes at the opening tracks.

 Blitzkrieg by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Blitzkrieg
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Blitzkrieg is Busker fifth studio album, released in 1984. Well this time Busker added besides keybords and piano some electronic moves that gives a certain new age atmosphere on some pieces like on Gotterdammerung for ex. The music are on same coordonates as before, maybe thsi time the progressive arrangements are puted in other form as before but in the end a good album, at least to me. Intristing is the album has only 29 min leght, quite short, but better short and ok then long and boring and without any intristing moments. What I found pleasent is that even in 1984 most of the progressive bands from the '70's turned to a more pop sound and even left aside all progressive elements that made them famous, Busker release an album who realy sounds progressive to my ears, even is not quite spectacular overall. Lots of piano and keybords moments interluded with some ok vocal parts, some naration aswell, make from this album a good one. 3 stars, for today standards this album can be considered an ep for his lengh but an ok one. Not better then my 3 fav mentioned albums from them, first one, second and last one, these 3 remain their best, the rest are ok, with the mentioning point thet their 1980 album Shakin all over is their worst album for sure, and one of the most unintristing albums I've ever heared, pure rock and roll and nothing realy exciting at all.
 On Any Street Corner by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.12 | 4 ratings

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On Any Street Corner
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 realy

On any street is the debute album from canadian progressive rock from 1976. This album together with their next one and their lates Norther fantasies is their best for sure and their most progressive aswell. On this album Busker mainly concentrates on progressive moves, quite ok and well arranged, even are not complex or complicated. It's accesibele progressive type, for everybody, almost what Styx done in that period, mainly mainstream, but with some good towards great keybords arrangements, with a jazzy feel here and there and popy atmosphere. I like the voice, like on all of their albums, even is nothing realy excelent , is very warm and pleasent, fits very well in this context. All pieces stands as good, nothing groundbreaking or innovative but very enjoyble to my ears. This album like the rest are very hard to find in any format today, in first place the album was sold only at the concerts in small quantity, maybe that is so unknown today by larger public. 3.5 for this one, I like it, accesible prog rock with popy elements added here and there but well performed with good keybords. Not realy recommended, but if you want to discover obscure prog bands from the '70's try this band maybe you will find intristing arrangements on their albums.

 Summernightsmusic by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Summernightsmusic
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Busker forth album from 1982 named Summernight music is another good album from this discrete band from Canada. Here Busker combine besides some symphonic prog arrangements with jazzy elements and here and there some more new age keybords added. By the early '80's many bands from prog scene become more intrested in this kind of new fase in keybords technology, adding new sounds and new concepts, Busker use them only in small quantity and for theat the album still sounds good to my ears. Also her are some flute, trumpet and trombone played by some guests. Again pleasent vocal parts and good instrumental passages. Busker always played at the border of mainstrem symphonic prog, not realy comercial but more accesible then other bands, not very complicated tunes, always with good atmosphere easy to sing along some of them, but sometimes rather unintristing overall. This album I no better then Impression of a city not worse either, they keep same attitude and I like it, still prefere Impression over this one. 3 stars gain, good album but nothing special.
 Northern Fantasies by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.11 | 5 ratings

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Northern Fantasies
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Northern fantasies is Busker latest album since now from 2007. I review so far their 1979 album Impressions of a city and I like it what I've hered, so I decided to review all their album, but randomly. This album show a much mature Busker in comparation with their older albums, here the symphonic prog moments melted very well with more folky elements and even some jazzy moments aswell, makes from this album a pleasent listen. Is a concept album divided in 20 pieces and is about Busker members who traveling across Canada when touring in the '70's. Pleasent arrangements, some good keybords arrangements aswell, nothing realy impressive or grounbreaking but to my ears very pleasent, all, from voice to instrumental passages. Still today after so many albums they are very unknown to larger public,maybe because this release was made after more then 20 years break. So a good album for sure who desearve 3 stars.
 Impressions of a City by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.50 | 2 ratings

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Impressions of a City
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Busker is one of the many obscure bands that emerged from mid '70's progressive rock realm from Canada. They had quite enough albums released over the years but with all that they remain quite unknown to larger public. I had hard time finding some of their work, e\anything but the last album, released on CD, the rest were impossible to find until 3 month ago when I resieved a copy of this second album from 1979 named Impressions of a city. I was very glad because their albums are rare in any format. So, Busker is a symphonic prog band formed by Steve McCann / Keyboards, Bass, Guitars, Vocals and Percussion and Randy Dawdy / Drums, Congas, Tympani, Vocals and Percussion in early to mid '70's in Ontario, Canada. The music offerd on this album is pleasent, not very complex from quite good symphonic prog with lots of keybords arrangements to jazzy interplay and here and there some more mainstrem rock aproch, not bad in the end, a soup that goes quite well to my ears. The voice is pleasent and all instrumental passages are ok, nothing grounbreaking or very original but pleasent most of the time, the music has that special american feel, even they are canadians. So, a good album , very hard to find, but if you get the chance to take a listen worth some spins. 3 stars, I like it even is far from being an essential listning. Similar at some point with Carnegie, but less keybord orientated.
 Northern Fantasies by BUSKER album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.11 | 5 ratings

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Northern Fantasies
Busker Symphonic Prog

Review by JD

4 stars Full Disclosure :

Is it considered fair or unbiased to write a review for an album if you were involved in its making? I don't see why not, as long as you stay honest with yourself.

In the late 70's and early 80's I performed sound engineering duties for BUSKER both live and in the studio. Northern Fantasies existed only as a demo recording, recorded in 1975 on a 4 track reel to reel using bounce tracking. It was with great satisfaction that I finally convinced BUSKER keyboardist Steve McCann to turn this demo into a proper release. The music was slightly rearranged and a few single songs from the band's past were added to round out the Northern Fantasies album in 2007. I personally mixed, edited and mastered this release as well as photographed and designed the CD packaging.

Production :

This album was recorded at the BUSKER home studio and mixed and mastered at my own White Pine Media studio. The overall sound of the album has stayed true to its '70's roots in order to capture the mood of the pieces at the time they were written (1974). Many of the keyboard parts utilize the vintage sound that listeners of early prog may appreciate. But rest assured, the production is modern, clean and dynamic and shows what can be accomplished without a big studio budget when the music comes from the heart

16/20

Song Writing :

Northern Fantasies is comprised of 20 tracks in all, although they are presented in a 'concept album' format with most songs running into the next for a full 45 minute piece of music. I prefer to think of it more as a musical travelogue since all of the pieces are written about, or inspired by visits to various locations across the great nation of Canada. Not to mention that when originally performed live Northern Fantasies was accompanied by a multimedia stage show that included film and a slide show. This eclectic collection of music spans everything from progressive rock "Overture, Run Sun, Finale" to east coast folk "Uncle Alexander Newfoundlander, Inverness", classical "Winterlude" to jazz "Gastown" to straight ahead rock "Dangerous Dan McGrew" and just a little comic relief for good measure "Looney Bird, Lumberjack's Song (Fifi)"

17/20

Originality :

Northern Fantasies is a very original piece of music. While it's hard not to hear the influence of ELP in "Rocky Mountain Fanfare and Fugue" or Gentle Giant in the vocal stylings of "Run Sun" and "Coureurs de Bois" this is by no means a copy cat band who strives to sound like any other. While many prog listeners might associate Rush with the voice of Canadian prog, BUSKER presents a truly Canadian voice that captures the diversity of the country and its people with unmistakable originality.

20/20

Performance :

In listening to Northern Fantasies it's clear that Steve McCann and Randy Dawdy are proficient musicians (see band bio). What's refreshing is that the band doesn't suffer from DTS (Dream Theater Syndrome) or MGM (Musical Gymnastic Meanderings), that sometimes annoying habit of speedy scales to prove ones musical ability. Here BUSKER shows that they are players, being thoughtful when the mood is right "Atlantic Fisherman's Saga" or downright pompous "Finale" when it suits their purpose. Admittedly Steve is not a top gun on the guitar, but the fact that there are only two musicians to create this full symphonic sound shows what masters the are in their respective fields.

15/20

General Impressions :

Northern Fantasies is a valiant effort by an independent band that has not let the fact that a recording contract eluded them stop them from turning out some incredibly interesting and unique music. Always a band to hold high the flag of Canada, BUSKER proudly waves the maple leaf banner and serves up a nice slice of Canadiana for all to hear. This is by far the band's best overall album both for production and continuity. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to hear more of the Canadian progressive scene

17/20

Total = 85/100 (85% of 5 stars)

4.25

Thanks to bhikkhu for the artist addition.

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