Triumph started in 1975 in Toronto, Canada. The original lineup was guitarist Rik Emmet, drummer and singer Gil Moore, and bassist and keyboardist Mike Levine. However, the group started as a four-member blues band called Abernathy Shangster. Two members, Fred Keeler and Peter Young left the band. Then, a chance encounter at Toronto Hollywood Tavern brought the musical talent of Rik Emmet, and the group became Triumph. The group released their self-titled first album on Attic Records with little exposure. However, a DJ in San Antonio, Texas, recognized the group’s talent creating a small fan base. Not only did this lead to a tour in Texas but also a recording contract with RCA Records. After signing, the label re-released the group’s first album, swiftly followed by their sophomore album, 1977’s “Rock & Roll Machine.” The lead single on the album, Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way,” gave the group more exposure. During this time, the group also gained recognition for their live performances. According to Triumph Music, Rik Moore orchestrated the group’s light shows, so impressive many feel that Triumph redefined arena rock.
Much of the group’s draw was high-energy shows with cutting-edge lighting, as well as lasers and pyrotechnics. In 1981, the group received Performance Magazine’s Innovators of the Year award. After a string of successful albums, the group released several less successful albums, including 1987’s “Surveillance.” The failure prompted Emmet to leave the band in favor of a solo career. Despite the loss, Moore and Levine decided to keep the group going and find a new bassist. Initially, they wanted Thin Lizzy and White Snake’s John Sykes. However, he declined, so they selected Phil X. Unfortunately, the new trio only released one album, 1993’s “Edge of Excess,” before disbanding. In 2007, the original Triumph members reunited one more time for their induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Many music critics and fans draw parallels between Rush and Triumph. Not only do the two groups sound similar, but they also hail from Canada. Although Triumph never reached Rush’s commercial success, the group’s catalog contains many amazing songs. These are the 10 best Triumph songs of all time.
10. Ordinary Man
Much of the instrumentation sounds like two different pieces. According to Mikeladano, “Ordinary Man” is one likely to split opinions. Fans of the progressive side will love the choir and acoustic arrangement. Rawkers will say, “bah, pombous prog (expletive deleted).”
9. Never Surrender
In 2008, Triumph did several comeback concerts. Drummer Gil Moore wanted to add this song to the setlist even though it was older music and Emmet preferred to play new material. The tune shows why the group’s name is Triumph.
8. Stranger In A Strange Land
Despite being a favorite track for fans, Rik Emmet avoids listening to “Stranger In A Strange Land.” He feels there are many things technically wrong with it. When he once saw a fan post of the live version, he realized he hadn’t listened to it in over two decades.
7. Suitcase Blues
This song has a striking resemblance to Bob Seger’s song “turn the page.” Both are mournful laments about the struggles of being on the road. Although he enjoyed his career with Triumph and understood how it catapulted him to fame, many think this song inspired him to leave the band and pursue a career in music journalism and teach other artists how to write songs.
6. Somebody’s Out There
This song was the group’s most significant commercial success despite many people remembering other songs more than this one. It was the lead single on Triumph’s eighth studio release, “The Sport of Kings.” Interestingly, the group hadn’t planned on adding it, but their producer didn’t hear a song on the album he thought would be a radio single.
5. Air Raid
This track was a precursor to the song “Allied Forces.” Additionally, it was a “sonic experiment” orchestrated after the band relocated to a new home studio. Shows became a way for the group to hype up the crowd for the rest of the show. It’s also a standout from the rest of the group’s catalog because it doesn’t have the same upbeat sound.
4. Hold On
This song was the first time the group saw enough airplay to make the charts. Like other songs in the group’s catalog, it’s an uplifting song that reminds listeners that struggles will pass.
3. Magic Power
According to Songfacts, Rik Emmet’s lyrics were a throwback to his childhood. He credits John Sebastian’s “Do You Believe in Magic” and Pete Townsend’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as inspiration.
2. Fight the Good Fight
We often feel like no matter what we do; things will never turn outright. This song is a good choice if you need a power anthem to jump-start your day. As you listen to the music, you will hear the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
1. Lay It On The Line
Even though the song saw some success in the United States, it was much more popular in Canada, earning Triumph their first Juno Award nomination in 1979. Some fans thought the song was about someone special, but Emmet assured them it’s just about honesty and wanting to be authentic.
Bruce Springsteen once said, “the best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.” One thing Triumph has done is to use its musical platform to effect social change. Many concerts they’ve done over the years have benefited several charities and causes, including Ethiopian Famine Release in 1985 and helping victims of the tsunami in 2005.