I have to correct myself on my previous claim that the only artist of the 40 by whom I do not own any CDs is Styx. I could have sworn I had Allied Forces, but apparently I do not. After listening to Classics, Triumph's 1989 greatest hits album, while preparing to write this, I think I understand why. Forget what I previously said about Styx. Triumph is the worst band in my Fab 40.
The allmusic.com entry for Triumph describes them as follows: "Late-'70s/early-'80s prog metallists Triumph endured countless comparisons to Rush throughout their career, and with good reason; they were both quite similar musically and lyrically, comprised of three members each, and hailed from Canada."
Huh? Yeah, they were both Canadian power trios but the similarities end there. Musically and lyrically similar? I know that previously I sarcastically referred to the lyrical depth of Rush, but come on. They were certainly making a much more profound statement than such gems as "I'm young, I'm wild and I'm free. I've got the magic power of the music in me," "Live it fast, but live the life you choose," and "Fight the good fight every moment, every minute, every day." Lyrically similar to Bon Jovi maybe, but not Rush. And these are from their more cerebral songwriter, Rik Emmett. Don't get me started on the Gil Moore-penned songs. Musically, I find little evidence that Triumph was any more than a solid, straightforward 80's hard rock band, not the progressive outfit they're made out to be.
That said, for a considerable period of time, Triumph was my second favorite band to Rush, and they do hold a place close to my heart. The most special memory that Triumph stirs in me is one of Johnny Kranik constantly quizzing me and Len as to who our current favorite band was, who was second, third, etc. Johnny was three years our junior and, it seemed, he looked up to us. One of these conversations would typically go something like this:
JK: Dan, who's your current favorite?
DM: Rush, of course.
JK: Who's second?
JK: Are they a close second, or pretty far behind?
DM: Not even close.
JK: Who comes next?
You get the picture. Probably the only person who will find this remotely amusing is Len, but I credit these informal lists as my first Rob Fleming moments, almost 15 years prior to Nick Hornby's creation of said character. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my affinity for lists and, therefore, my desire to be Rob Fleming. I'm not.
I'm sorry that I don't have much good to say about Triumph. I will say that 1981's Allied Forces was a solid rock album and easily their best effort. After becoming enamored with this one, we would dig into the back catalog and check out 1980's Progressions of Power and 1979's Just a Game, and have our concert shirts stolen while seeing them live at the New Haven Coliseum. I also know that I remained loyal for much longer than they deserved, from 1982's Never Surrender, through 1984's Thunder Seven, and on to 1985's The Sport of Kings.
Years later, in the early 90's, while visiting my parents in Poughkeepsie and watching the television show Wheel of Fortune with my Mom, I was astounded to see Triumph bassist Mike Levine as a contestant. I would immediately call Mark, because he was always the one to play Mike Levine in our mock concerts in Len and Mark's basement. This was in the days that Len and I could pretty much tell Mark what to do, so as a result, Mark always played the least desirable role in the band. Of course, a couple years later, after Mark returned from his year in exile at New York Military Academy, he would consistently make both of us, especially Len, pay for ever having bossed him around.