The Canadian music scene often gets forgotten within the genre of 80s/early 90s hair metal; the United States and Europe being the main hubs for producing bands full of long-haired rockers. Canada had a large following of rock fans, however, the bands never seemed to gain the success they deserved within North America. Although female rock bands from around the globe suffered from sexism within the industry and never received full credit as musicians, the Canadian female bands are often forgotten when talking about the women in rock. Being a Canadian myself, the talented Lee Aaron, Chrissy Steele, and the female-fronted band Headpins are all on heavy rotation within my playlists.
Both releasing their debut albums in 1982, Lee Aaron and Darby Mills of the Headpins, became a few of the first female rockers to hit the Canadian Hard Rock music scene in the 1980s. Both talented ladies have a strong growl and rasp to their powerful lead vocals; however, the overall sound of these bands are very different from each other.
Influenced by bands like Thin Lizzy and Van Halen, Aaron’s sound is melodic but with an edge, heavy on the guitars and big chorus’; her powerful vocals quickly becoming a trademark within her sound. Headpins on the other hand, have more of a classic rock sound; obvious that they were influenced by earlier 70s rock but with an 80s twist. On top of Mills strong vocals, group/layered vocals are present in many of the songs, something that differentiates their sound from Lee Aaron’s.
Releasing her debut, and only, album Magnet to Steele in 1991, Chrissy Steele takes a different approach to a hard rock album. The era of melodic guitar riffs and big power ballads, Steele’s album has a strong variety of sounds on it. Similar to Aaron and Mills, Steele has a recognizable growl in her singing voice; however, rock music expanded greatly throughout the 80s which is what makes her album unique from the others. Heavy rock songs, ballads, blues influences and tasty guitar licks all finding their way onto this album.
The albums released by these bands still being able to stand alone today, goes to show how talented these ladies are as musicians and songwriters. Receiving adequate success in their home country of Canada, but never receiving the credit they deserve within the music industry is the reason why I wanted to shine a light on these rock ‘n’ roll women.
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