Winnipeg’s one-hit wonders

They were supposed to be the next big thing. Where did they go?

  • Aranda Adams

Neil Young, The Weakerthans and The Guess Who are just a few of Winnipeg’s successful musical talents – so maybe that’s why Winnipeggers are so often convinced that they’ve birthed the next big musical act.
The following are a few of the musicians and songs that we thought were going to get added to the list of Winnipeg music legends, and then disappeared into a world of post-mainstream oblivion.

Remy Shand
Rock Steady, Take A Message (2002)

After proving that the Prairies have soul in 2002 with his album The Way I Feel and hits like Rock Steady and Take a Message, Shand was awarded the Juno for Best R&B/Soul Recording and was nominated for four Grammies.

We all fell in love with Remy’s weird hat and impossibly high-pitched vocals, but shortly after announcing that he was recording a new album in 2003, he seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet.

Perhaps his disappearance is due to personal problems over the past few years: he divorced his wife in 2009 and his mother Lana Shand (who owned clothing store Vintage Glory in the Exchange District with her husband) died of cancer in 2010.

McMaster and James
Thank You (2000)

The year 2000 brought about a blur of boy bands, but McMaster and James stood out with their lack of frosted tips and catchy yet genuine love songs.

Their self-titled debut album went gold in Canada with hits like Thank You, Love Wins Everytime, Sweet Sensation and I Understand, and the duo opened for Christina Aguilera and ‘N Sync.

Unfortunately, McMaster and James never made beautiful music together again, but both of them have continued pursuing their respective careers.

Rob James made it to the final seven contestants on Canadian Idol in 2006, and Luke McMaster is still making music for his solo career and has written and produced songs for other artists, like Rihanna and Nick Lachey.

Jet Set Satellite
Baby, Cool Your Jets, Best Way to Die (2000)

The boys of Jet Set Satellite quenched our thirst for something a little more rock ‘n’ roll that all the other poppy boy bands couldn’t quite achieve – granted, it’s hard to play an instrument while performing choreographed dance moves. Best Way to Die and Baby, Cool Your Jets perfected the generic angst sound and are considered underrated gems – but only by Canadians.

After leaving their label in 2003, Jet Set Satellite released two independent albums, Vegas in 2005 and End of an Era in 2008, but no one ever really knew they existed.

According to the band’s Facebook page, each member is currently working on solo projects and vocalist Trevor Tuminski is now the associate editor of a horror culture magazine called Rue Morgue.

Tal Bachman
She’s So High (1999)

Randy Bachman’s kid sweetly serenaded us with a song about a normal guy not having a chance with a hii-ee-iii-igh class girl that accompanied one of the most memorable music videos for any Canadian kid who grew up staring at Much Music every night.

Tal’s hit single She’s So High reached number one on Canadian radio and was a top 10 hit in the U.S. He released a second album in 2004, but it was not greeted with the same enthusiasm as his debut.

Tal has since written for various magazines and appeared in Bill Maher’s documentary Religulous to talk about his experiences as a former member of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints, but his post-mainstream music career has not been very active. According to his blog, he’s married, has kids and plays rugby, though.

Crash Test Dummies
Superman Song (1991)

Twenty years ago, a startlingly deep, baritone voice crawled out of Winnipeg’s woodwork and told us just how superior Superman is to Tarzan.

The Crash Test Dummies sounded close enough to grunge that Winnipeggers felt like they were part of the cultural movement, too. The popularity of the single won the Crash Test Dummies the Juno for Group of the Year, but their subsequent release God Shuffled His Feet was more popular in the U.S. than in Canada.

The band has now released a total of nine albums, including a Christmas album and last year’s release Oooh La-La!, but their success level is stagnant. The Dummies are still touring this year, so it looks like there’s a good chunk of hardcore fans that are still willing to pay to see them and will never admit that these guys only had one hugely successful song.

Published in Volume 65, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 31, 2011)

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