Cream of the North List

Cream of the North List
When a book titled The Top 100 Canadian Albums hits the shelves, the typically Canadian thing to do is to bitch about what didn't make the list. And author Bob Mersereau has already heard a fair share of griping from various regional critics, especially the ones who didn't bother participating in the 500-plus jury. Few would argue that Neil Young’s Harvest and Joni Mitchell’s Blue deserve to occupy the top two spots, but after that things get snippy. Mersereau admits that half of his own ten-album ballot didn't make the final list (he's a big fan of the Odds). And despite only four Francophone albums and one each from the jazz, classical and hip-hop genres, Mersereau thinks the jury's selections are an honest reflection of the country.

"It speaks to the open ears of Canadians, who don't think in genres, but simply what they love,” he says. "Also, there were plenty of jazz, a couple of classical, lots of hip-hop, some electronica and some very hardcore punk discs that finished from 100 to 150. If I had made it the top 150 Canadian albums, a lot of these suggestions of tokenism would have been rendered moot.” Though his decision to include greatest hits albums is questionable, the book’s real flaw is Mersereau's own pedestrian writing in the blurbs for each of the 100 albums. It's obvious that he doesn't love each of these albums — and what maple syrup guzzler honestly would? — and at times it’s hard to establish why we should if we don't already. And though he conducted new interviews for the book, often they don't illuminate much about the album’s actual creation. It's a mystery how he managed to talk to Leonard Cohen and Garth Hudson but was snubbed by Broken Social Scene and K-OS. Inclusions, exclusions and writing aside, Mersereau admits that the list is merely a departure point. "The idea is to celebrate Canadian music, no matter where it's from or what it is,” he says. "The list is just the headline and attention-grabber.”