Saturday, 29 October 2016

Analog Audio Annals

For most of the 20th Century if you wanted to make a permanent record of an audio event or capture a song it was most commonly done by producing a phonograph record, initially in 78 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute), then 33 RPM albums and finally 45 RPM singles. Naturally there have been a fair share of CFL related recordings made over the decades, several of which were featured in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II because they were distinctly player specific.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber's 50th Anniversary record with multiple team player greats and Saskatchewan Roughrider's player musicians West Country Rock record. Both of these were catalogued in Volume II and both are reasonably easy to acquire, appearing on Ebay fairly regularly.

But there are also numerous generic CFL football records known that will eventually make their way into Volume III of Collecting Canadian Football and some of these I will highlight here in this blog post.

Two of the earliest records that I am aware of are both 78 RPM issued by radio station CFRB in Toronto. On the left was the Argonauts team song, ostensibly used at the Stadium to play in between breaks in the  game action, on the right a recording of Grey Cup highlights from an unfortunately unspecified year.

78 RPM records were the dominant format prior to World War II and were still issued in some cases up until the 1950's. The largest known CFL related record issue was in 78 RPM speed dating from 1951 and is spotlighted in this blog post Fifties Flatland Frenzy.

A little difficult to make out at this resolution but on the left is a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan parody song titled "Hang Down Your Head Jim Trimble" dating from the late 50's or early 60's and at right a radio station CKNW recording of the B.C. Lions team song, probably early 60's as well.  

Team songs and parodies were common subjects for records in the fifties & sixties and were typically issued in 33 RPM album format. The Bomber parody was sung to the tune of "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley", a popular song of the era and was aimed at poor Jim Trimble, coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats that kept coming up on the losing end against the Bombers in Grey Cups at the time.

This album of CFL songs from 1968 is available in two formats, one aimed at the popular consumer and one as part of a archival project capturing Canadiana recordings for posterity. Dal Richards was a popular Vancouver orchestra leader whose career spanned over seventy years

More mainstream record pressings were available for retail sale in the sixties (and at garage sales and flea markets today). Check out the unusual funky logo used for the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the album cover above left. Eventually 45 RPM singles with a CFL connection were issued both by organizations and different players trying their hand at vocalizing.

The Grey Cup specific song recording at left can be found with different RCA catalogue numbers at top left so perhaps there are some variants available for whatever reason. At right is a single by Johnny Rodgers "The Ordinary Superstar" of the Montreal Alouettes in the seventies. 

Towards the late seventies and early eighties CFL recordings regrettably tended towards the disco genre. I can still remember (but have not been able to locate a copy of) a cheesy eighties parody issued by the Stampeders prior to a playoff matchup called "Born to Beat the Lions". The song was based on "Born to be Alive" by disco sensation Patrick Hernandez. Pretty sure we lost that game...

B.C. Lions promotional disc at left with unknown song content but likely a disco rendition from the early eighties and Hernandez in full disco club cane swinging action at right. You can see one of many online video renditions here of Born to be Alive if you want to punish yourself. 

The cost of compact disc production in the eighties would have precluded any CFL efforts from that time period but eventually as the new format took over and records began to fade from the manufacturing landscape, the CFL got on board with the new medium.

Top left is Red, White and Rock - a Grey Cup themed compact disc issue from an unknown year and at top right the Tragically Hip special commemorative Grey Cup CD from their halftime performance in 2004. 

With compact discs now being phased out in favor of digital MP3's and on demand audio streaming this type of physical CFL collectible would appear to have come to an end. But many obscure uncatalogued recordings from the prior century are no doubt still out there waiting to be rediscovered.



  1. Great stuff; I was hoping you would do more of these after seeing the 1978 "Five Day Trial" 45 and the 1982 "Ring for Each Finger" LP. I've seen many of these, but several are new to me. Great stuff!

  2. I can remember in 1978 or 1979 (I believe the latter), 630 CHED did a parody of "In The Navy" by the Village People called "In The Grey Cup"; wish that got released on 45!