Overlooked and Underrated: Art Bergmann, "Sexual Roulette"

May 6, 2014 - 6:05pm

July 15th, 2013  |  Published in Featured Articles, Overlooked & Underrated, Rock, Pop & Folk

By Jason Motz

“Some people take everything so goddamn literally. I’m in a really stupid business.”

“I just wanted to be good, like the Beatles in Hollywood.”

– Art Bergmann

The name Art Bergmann will never appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Neither will the counterculture zeitgeist ever acknowledge this Canadian wild man. The punk son of a Mennonite family, Art Bergmann earned his comparisons to Iggy Pop the hard way: drink, drug, and danger. As the frontman for The Young Canadians (Vancouver’s greatest, shortest-lived punk band), Los Popularos and Poisoned, Bergmann was frantic, frenetic and fanatical in his approach. In an era of Kenny Loggins’ stardom, Art Bergmann was the snotty rejoinder to MTV chic. Crass. Honest. Brutal. Real. Everything a pop star should not be. Most of all, Art being Art, he did not want to be anything other than himself.

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[Sexual Roulette manages a deft trick: it’s a dark ride and a harrowing yarn, but in not a complete bummer (a la Tonight’s the Night.) Credit goes to producer Chris Wardman for orchestrating a rock sound that breathes fire. That ‘Bound For Vegas’ became a modest hit in Canada, is all on Wardman. Canadian radio listeners were bombarded with sacchrin pop (Celine Dion), bland rock (Alannah Myles) and washed-out blues (Colin James and Jeff Healey Band). Art Bergmann was like snot smeared across a the balustrade. From 1990-1994, there was more Canadian rock on the radio than ever before. (Thank you, 1971 CRTC ruling!) For every three Rush songs on the playlist, there were spasms of life from the likes of Bergmann, Sons of Freedom and Junkhouse. Canada’s on explosion of alternative bands brought a legitimacy to Canadian radio waves previously unheard: Sloan, Eric’s Trip, and the Tea Party.]