Trooper

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Trooper

Trooper

 

The origins of Trooper began in 1972 when Ray McGuire and Brian Smith worked as a lounge duo named Winters Green. After several incarnations, they added drummer Tommy Stewart and bassist Harry Kalinsky, making it a foursome and Applejack was born.

The group was noticed by Randy Bachman and signed with his Legend label in early '74. Their self-titled debut came out early the next year and contained the smash single "Baby Woncha Please Come Home". Produced by Bachman. it incorporated a tight but simple sound. Their flavour of rock was hot on the fingers of radio djs nationwide. "General Hand Grenade" also found the mark as an AM pop hit that year.

TWO FOR THE SHOW hit the shelves in '76 and picked up where the debut left off the year before. The title track, "Ready" and "Santa Maria" all had an easy feel to them ensuring plenty of radio play and making it their first gold record. Replacing Kalinsky on bass was Doni Underhill and with the addition of keyboardist Frank Ludwig, they were now able to broaden their sound in the studios and on stage, taking some of the pressure off Smith's guitar-weilding shoulders. The record also contained "Boys In The Bright White Sports Car", which strangely wouldn't become a hit until their '79 greatest hits lp.

1977 saw the release of KNOCK 'EM DEAD KID. Three singles came from it, including their biggest ever, the ballad "Oh Pretty Lady" (my brother's wedding's theme song incidentally). It was quickly followed up by "We're Here For A Good Time" and "Long Time", both straddling the fine line between ballad and just good old pop, staying true to the group's simple approach. By this time Trooper were also making a name for themselves playing smaller and medium-sized venues nationwide.

Their biggest selling record to date came in the form of THICK AS THIEVES in '78. Backed by their swan song ''RAISE A LITTLE HELL", the epitome of teen rebellion , the disc showed a maturity in the writing, with Ludwig doing vocals on two of it's hits, "Round Round We Go" and "Moment That It Takes". Conflicts with Bachman however dissolved their relationship and for all intents and purposes, were now self-managed.

The greatest hits package HOT SHOTS came out the next year and contained the hit which you would know already if you were paying attention "The Boys In The Bright White Sports Car", originally on the TWO FOR THE SHOW album.

The time off from the road was spent in the studios where a harder sound was emerging in the form of FLYING COLOURS. Immediate gold was the reward for "Three Dressed Up As A Nine", the first single and a smoking cover of the Kinks' "All Day And All The Night". Mixed in for good measure were the typical AM pop ballads Trooper had become known for, including "Drive Away", Ludwig's "Quiet Desperation" and the mega-hit "Janine", which was later covered by country group SEAWEED. The 1980 Juno Awards also saw Trooper finally win their first award for best group. However conflicts with where the band was going caused Ludwig to leave later that year. A side note is he'd go on to pen the theme for "The Urban Peasant" tv program.

With new keyboardist Rob Deans and now on MCA, an untitled album hit the stores in the summer of 1980. Backed by the Canadian Rockers' Anthem "Real Canadians", the record stayed on the slightly new direction paved by FLYING COLOURS, with "Are You Still My Baby" and "Don't Feel Like Dancing".

It took nearly two years for the next record to hit the stores. MONEY TALKS unfortunately didn't live up to the hype the critics expected from something that took that long to release. Even though "Only A Fool" garnered respectable airplay that summer, they couldn't seem to follow it up with "Just One Kiss" or "It Comes And It Goes". Although the group did tour extensively across Canada and into the States, problems with management were sending Trooper back down the ladder of success.

By 1988 Trooper was well-versed in playing clubs and smaller venues from coast to coast and were probably on the road when MCA released HOT SHOTS on compact disc. Nearly half a million copies were sold that year alone and it's been guessed that right now, one out of every 40 Canadians has the disc. I do ... do you?

They re-emerged in '89 on Warner Records with THE LAST OF THE GYPSIES. Despite "Boy With The Beat" becoming an instant staple on both the radio and in rock bars that summer, they soon found they'd lost the interest of their audience. This is also despite the release of "Thin White Line" and "The Girl Didn't Know" . Their tenth album, entitled appropriately enough, TEN, was released nearly two years later and although still a fine album, with the cynical take on the US called "American Dream", again failed to make an impression a full-fledged revival was likely.

The group is still touring today, doing small venues across North America. It's often be posed that if the Canadian record labels supported the acts of yesteryear the way the Americans do (Kiss and Aerosmith come to mind when I say this), that Trooper would again be on the lips of everyone who ever appreciated good, solid, user-friendly AM pop music. And a box set is said to be currently in the works.

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox


Discography

Trooper
Trooper (1975)

I'm in Trouble Again
General Hand Grenade
All of the Time
Eddy Takes it Easy
Roller Rink
Baby Wonka Please Come Home
Love of my Life
Don't Stop Now

Two For The Show
Two For The Show (1976)

Two for the Show
Gypsy Wheeler
Santa Maria
Loretta
The Boys in the Bright White Sportscar
Ready
Whatcha Gonna do About Me
I Miss You Already
What's Gonna Happen Now?

Knock 'Em Dead Kid
Knock 'Em Dead Kid (1977)

Knock 'Em Dead Kid
Waitin' on Your Love
Most of the Country
You Look so Good
We're Here For A Good Time (Not a Long Time)
Oh, Pretty Lady
Cold Cold Toronto
(It's Been A) Long Time

Thick As Thieves
Thick As Thieves (1978)

Live From The Moon
No Fun Being Alone
Round Round We Go
Drivin Crazy
Roll With It
Say Goodnight
The Moment That It Takes
One Good Reason
Gambler
Raise A Little Hell

Flying Colours
Flying Colours (1979)

3 Dressed Up As a 9
All Day And All The Night
Go Ahead and Sue Me
Quiet Desperation
She's So Sweet
Mr Big
Janine
Back To You
Good Clean Fun
Drive Away

Hot Shots
Hot Shots (1979)

The Boys In The Bright White Sports Car
Baby Woncha Please Come Home
General Hand Grenade
Two For The Show
Ready
Santa Maria
We're Here For A Good Time
Oh Pretty Lady
Long Time
Round Round We Go
Moment That It Takes
Raise A Little Hell

Trooper
Trooper (1980)

Don't Feel Like Dancing
Are You Still My Baby
I Don't Wanna Be Here
Volunteer Victims
Dump That Creep
Laura
If I Never See Your Face Again
Real Canadians
Legend

Money Talks
Money Talks (1982)

Money Talks
Only A Fool
This Must Be The Place
Lookin For Trouble
Ready For The Night
Everything You Want
Could've Been Me
Any Minute Now
It Comes It Goes
Dig A Little Deeper

The Last Of The Gypsies
The Last Of The Gypsies (1989)

Workin' Like A Dog
Thin White Line
The Girl Don't Know
The Real World
Don't Like Being Told What To Do
Boy With A Beat
The Best Way (To Hold A Man)
$100,000.00
Ain't Gonna Swallow My Pride
The Last of the Gypsies

Ten
Ten (1991)

The American Dream
Too Much Too Easy
Simple Thing
Kids In Love
What Day is This?
Don't Let Nothin' Bring You Down
True Love
Fight For Freedom
Stop Thinkin'
What The Hell's Goin' On?


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