#1009: Oh Pretty Lady by Trooper
In 1967 Ra McGuire and Brian Smith played in a Vancouver band named Winter’s Green. The band recorded two songs, “Are You a Monkey” and “Jump in the River Blues”, on the Rumble Records Label. “Are You A Monkey” later appeared on a rock collection: 1983’s “The History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Vol. 3.” In the early seventies Winter’s Green changed their name to Applejack and added drummer Tommy Stewart and bassist Harry Kalensky to their lineup. Applejack became a very popular band in the Vancouver area, and began touring extensively in British Columbia. The band played a few original tunes such as “Raise A Little Hell” and “Oh, Pretty Lady”, as well as Top 40 songs by artists such as Neil Young, and Chicago.
After hearing Applejack perform, Randy Bachman of Bachman–Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who signed the band to his Legend label. The band changed their name to Trooper, and Bachman produced the band’s self-titled debut album, Trooper, which contained the Canadian hits “Baby Woncha Please Come Home” and “General Hand Grenade“. Managed by Sam Feldman, Trooper began touring extensively in both Canada and the United States. After moving from Legend Records to MCA Records, Trooper added Frank Ludwig on keyboards. A second album, Two For The Show, featured their 1976 hit singles “Two For The Show” and “Santa Maria”.
In 1977 Trooper released their third album, Knock ‘Em Dead Kid. The first single from the album, “We’re Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time”, was the bands highest charting single at the time, peaking on the RPM charts at #12. The second single was “Oh, Pretty Lady”, a song that was originally written when they were the band Applejack.
Trooper’s “Oh, Pretty Lady” was cowritten by Ra McGuire and Brian Smith. The song is an honest plea by a guy who has been through a lot, an “eternal storm,” and turns to a lady to help him out. It’s not just any lady he turns to. It’s not financial advice or career counseling he is seeking. He’s got his heart on his sleeve and his hat in his hand. This is an offer of a commitment, as having one’s heart on their sleeve is a sign of being open-hearted and making oneself vulnerable. Having a hat in hand is a sign of both respect for someone and also begging for something. While originally a person would doff their hat as a sign of humility, coming to someone hat in hand can be done without a hat. The person is contrite towards the one they are seeking help from. In the case of “Oh, Pretty Lady”, we learn she’s let the guy know she can help him, and so he comes to her asking her to help change his life. The song peaked at #12 in Vancouver, though it did not crack either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Canadian RPM singles chart.
The 70s ended well for Trooper with “Raise A Little Hell”, “Round Round We Go” and “3 Dressed Up As A 9” among their Canadian hits. Their album, Thick As Thieves, was nominated for Best Selling Album Juno Award. And in 1979 the band won the Juno Award for Group of the Year. Trooper won a SOCAN Classic Award in 2005 for “Oh, Pretty Lady”. SOCAN is an acronym for the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. Trooper has 401 photographs housed in the Library and Archives Canada’s Gatineau Preservation Centre.
Between 1975 and 1991 Trooper charted a dozen singles into the Canadian RPM Top 40, and released nine studio albums. As of 2017 Trooper continues to go on concert tours with upcoming dates in May and June in British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
May 15, 2017
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