by Yasmine Shemesh
VANCOUVER – There is no denying the cultural impact that Big Shiny Tunes made on a generation of Canadians. The MuchMusic compilation was at once an influential gateway album, a curated playlist, and a means to promote alternative music in the mainstream. In Shine: How a MuchMusic Compliation Came to Define Canadian Alternative Music and Sell a Zillion Copies, music journalist Mark Teo explores all the intricacies of this impact, focusing specifically on the CD’s inaugural 1996 edition through in-depth analysis and a wide array of thoughtful interviews with everyone from those who were involved in Big Shiny Tunes’ creation to bands like Killjoy who were featured on the CD.
The context surrounding the compilation, and how it’s a uniquely Canadian phenomenon, is very nicely examined – at the time of the CD’s release, MuchMusic was in its prime, existing, as Teo accurately describes, both as an alt-weekly and a national newspaper. Teo also takes note of the significance of placing lesser known Canadian bands like Vancouver’s Pluto next to bigger, American names like Marilyn Manson on the tracklist, as well as looking at how and why profiles rose – or didn’t budge – as a result of being featured on the album.
There are some moments where the narrative veers away from the point – a long list of Teo’s reasons for disliking Moist takes an unnecessary, personal diversion, despite the following justification of his newfound respect for them as a result of researching for this book. But, largely, anyone who grew up on MuchMusic in the ‘90s and, certainly, anyone who ever owned a copy of Big Shiny Tunes, will thoroughly enjoy this read.
Shine: How a MuchMusic Compliation Came to Define Canadian Alternative Music and Sell a Zillion Copies is available through Eternal Cavalier Press.MuchMusic