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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 (although it must be said that Rush were the originator, and were much more commercially successful). Formed in Toronto during 1975, the trio consisted of guitarist/singer Rik Emmett, drummer/singer Gil Moore, and bassist/keyboardist Mike Levine, and issued its self-titled debut a year later via the independent Attic label. Although the album was largely ignored, it became a favorite of a radio DJ in San Antonio, Texas, which led to a regional following solidified by a tour of the state.
The exposure also gave way to a deal with RCA Records, which reissued the debut as well as Triumph's sophomore effort, 1977's Rock & Roll Machine, which spawned the group's first semi-hit single, a cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way." It was also around this time that the group became known for its concerts, which relied heavily on pyrotechnics and an intricate light show (just in case their following couldn't figure this out themselves, the trio penned a track called "Blinding Light Show").
With their stock rising among hard rock fans, Triumph inked a new recording contract with MCA, which led to their most successful period both artistically and commercially. Such resulting albums as 1979's Just a Game and 1980's Progressions of Power inched the group closer to breakthrough success, which was obtained by a pair of back-to-back gold-certified albums: 1981's Allied Forces (often considered the group's best album, which spawned the hit anthem "Fight the Good Fight") and 1982's Never Surrender. Such further albums as 1984's Thunder Seven, 1985's Stages, 1985's The Sport of Kings, and 1987's Surveillance failed to meet the expectations set by Triumph's earlier releases, yet the group was able to retain its following. Come 1988, Emmett opted to leave the group to pursue a solo career, but instead of calling it a day, Moore and Levine decided to carry on with a new frontman/guitarist, while an 11-track best-of set, Classics, was issued a year after Emmett's exit.
Their first choice, ex-Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake member John Sykes, was too busy getting his project Blue Murder off the ground at the time, so the gig ultimately went to former Frozen Ghost/Aldo Nova associate Phil X (it was also around this time that the group built its own recording studio in Mississauga, Ontario, called Metalworks). The Phil X-led version of the group only managed to issue a single release, however, 1993's Edge of Excess, before Triumph split up for good. In the wake of their breakup, several archival releases popped up in record stores, such as 1995's In the Beginning and 1996's King Biscuit Flower Hour (the latter of which chronicled a 1981 concert), while Rik Emmett continued on with his solo career, issuing albums on a regular basis throughout the '90s.
In 2007, it was announced that Triumph were to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Subsequently, the original lineup of Emmett, Levine, and Moore reunited for several high-profile live shows leading up to their induction into the Hall of Fame during the 2008 Juno Awards. In 2012, the band released the DVD/CD set Live at Sweden Rock Festival, which documents Triumph's reunion concert from 2008. ~ Greg Prato
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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