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A Great Band, Period: Harlequin

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There’s nothing wrong with calling a group a “great Canadian band,” except for the inevitable qualification and diminution that the second adjective always connotes.  April Wine, The Guess Who, The Tragically Hip, Triumph, Rush – they deserve better.  They are great bands, period.  So was Harlequin.

I will admit that I haven’t kept up with the output of the reformed band; here, I address only the original band’s first two albums, albums that are as much a part of me as my index fingers or my fondness for pizza.  I doubt that a month has gone by since Harlequin released its 1979 debut album, Victim of a Song, that I haven’t listened  either to it or to its followup, Love Crimes, all the way through at least once.  And a few of the songs on those albums – “Survive,” “Sweet Things in Life,” “Victim of a Song,” “Innocence,” “Thinking of You” – seem to turn up on every damn mix CD I make to listen to in the car.

But Why?

Because they had it all.  They had the melodies; they had the arrangements; they had energetic performances; they had the then-new muted-palm driving rhythm-guitar sound that the guys and I all loved; and they had George Belanger`s gorgeous, throaty voice.  And they were – I use the word exactly – unique: there has never been a band that sounded like Harlequin in its early days. I attended a dance they played, stood almost slack-jawed a few feet away from them, and can confirm that they were the real deal.  Check out those first two great albums, and I myself will look into their later work.  With Belanger at the helm, it`s probably fine stuff.


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