The band is most identifiable through Brad Roberts (vocals, guitar) and his distinctive bass-baritone voice. The band members have fluctuated over the years, but its best known line-up consisted of Roberts, Ellen Reid (co-vocals, keyboards), Brad's brother Dan Roberts (bass guitar, backing vocals), Benjamin Darvill (harmonica, mandolin), and Mitch Dorge (drums, percussion). The band is best known internationally for their 1993 single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" and best known in Canada for the 1991 single "Superman's Song".
After a multi-year hiatus, the band returned in 2015 with a tour and the new charity single "Promised Land" which was a collaboration with Marc Mysterio following up his remix of "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm".
Crash Test Dummies
|Origin||Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada|
|Genres||Alternative rock, folk rock|
|Labels||Arista, ViK., Deep Fried|
|Past members||Benjamin Darvill|
In the mid-1980s, Riddell joined with Brad Roberts to form the decidedly less-than-serious bar band Bad Brad Roberts and the St. James Rhythm Pigs. Over time, the band evolved into the Crash Test Dummies, a name suggested by a friend of the band who was in medical school. The diagnostic mannequin, known colloquially as a crash test dummy, was known to the public already by this time. Ellen Reid and Benjamin Darvill became permanent additions. George West, the original bass player, quit and was replaced by Dan Roberts, Brad's brother. Riddell was replaced by Vince Lambert, who was fired and replaced by Mitch Dorge just before the release of The Ghosts That Haunt Me.
After signing with BMG Records in 1991, the band signed with manager Jeff Rogers (Swell).
The band first began to achieve commercial success in Canada with the release of The Ghosts that Haunt Me in 1991. The album eventually reached sales of 400,000 in Canada, largely due to the popularity of the hit single "Superman's Song", which appeared on the RPM Top Singles chart that year and earned the band the 1992 Juno Award for Group of the Year.
The band did not receive much international recognition until the 1993 release of their second album, God Shuffled His Feet. Particularly instrumental in increasing the band's exposure in the American market was the appearance of a new type of radio format, adult album-oriented alternative rock (AAA). These stations put the first single "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" in high rotation and the song peaked at No. 4 in the US Hot 100. "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" did even better in the United Kingdom, where it was a No. 2 hit, and Australia where it peaked at No. 1. Popular parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied the song under the title "Headline News" in 1994.
In their native Canada, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" was a comparative disappointment on the charts, only peaking at No. 14. Two other songs from the album went top 10 in Canada: "Swimming In Your Ocean" and "Afternoons & Coffeespoons". This latter song was also a top 40 hit in Australia and the United Kingdom and hit the lower portion of the US Hot 100. The result was that by mid-1994 the album had passed the platinum sales mark (one million) in the United States and had also earned the band three Grammy nominations and three more Juno nominations. To date, God Shuffled His Feet has sold more than five and a half million copies worldwide.
In January 1995, the band released "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" (a cover of XTC's 1992 track) as a single and on the soundtrack of the Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels comedy Dumb and Dumber. The single, credited to The Crash Test Dummies and Ellen Reid, charted at No. 30 in the UK singles chart and was a No. 4 hit in Canada.
In 1996, the Dummies' third album, A Worm's Life, was released to mixed critical and moderate commercial success. The guitar-heavy singles were warmly received in some markets (lead single "He Liked To Feel It" hit No. 2 in Canada), but internationally nothing matched the runaway success of either "Superman's Song" or "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm". Still, the album went platinum in Canada in less than one month.
Give Yourself A Hand, the Dummies' fourth album, was released March 23, 1999. The album showcased a new sound for the Dummies, as it featured Ellen Reid singing lead vocals on three tracks, and Brad Roberts singing in a falsetto on several others. The whole sound of the album was much more electronic than the previous recordings. Once again, the lead single ("Keep A Lid On Things") was a top 10 hit in Canada.
During a hiatus between albums, Benjamin Darvill became the first Dummy to release solo material. Under the name Son Of Dave, Darvill first brought out the album B. Darvill's Wild West Show, followed with 01, both released on Benjamin's own label, Husky Records.
The less-than-stellar commercial success of both A Worm's Life and Give Yourself a Hand resulted in the band feeling much more restricted by their label BMG, especially after the label rejected 35 songs during the production of Give Yourself a Hand. As a result, the band and the label parted ways, and Brad Roberts formed his own independent label "Cha-Ching Records" (later renamed to "Deep Fried Records").
Free from major-label restrictions, the Dummies surprised their fans in 2001 by putting their solo projects on hold for a fifth studio album and tour. After suffering a near-fatal car accident in the fall of 2000, Brad found himself recuperating in the town of Argyle, Nova Scotia. It was there that he met some local "lobster fishermen" who happened to be quite musically inclined - Kent Greene, Dave Morton, and Danny MacKenzie. Together, they recorded the bulk of I Don't Care That You Don't Mind, which was to have been Brad's first solo album. Later on, Ellen was brought in to record backing vocals for a few tunes, and Dan agreed to tour with Brad. When Ellen and Mitch agreed to tour as well, the Crash Test Dummies name was put on the record. This album saw the Dummies returning to their acoustic roots. Brad compared this album to the Dummies' first, The Ghosts That Haunt Me, though he calls it more atmospheric and polished.
2002 opened with the surprise of Mitch Dorge's debut album, As Trees Walking. On the CD, Mitch played almost all of the instruments, took some of the photos for the liner notes, and won a Prairie Music Award for Best Instrumental Recording.
Brad, Dan, and Ellen returned as Crash Test Dummies at the end of 2002 with Jingle All the Way, a long-rumoured Christmas album.
In 2003, Puss 'n' Boots was released. Much like I Don't Care, the album began life as a Brad Roberts solo project. Co-written by Stuart Cameron, 13 songs were selected from a pool of 30. Ellen sang backing vocals and Dan played bass, though much of the music - funky grooves that would not have seemed out of place on Give Yourself A Hand - was performed by other musicians.
After releasing three records through his own label, Roberts realized he was losing money. As such, he decided to stop recording and touring and he laid low in his home of New York City, while working as a songwriting teacher, trying to break into voice-over work and becoming devoted to yoga, chanting and meditation (the latter influencing Robert's side-project Satsang Circus).
Despite the hiatus, in 2006 Brad Roberts began to casually record the album that would become Oooh La La with producer and friend Stewart Lerman, using the optigan and omnichord. He initially thought that the results of the sessions would just be released via online download.
In September, 2007 it was announced that Sony BMG would be releasing a "best of" compilation for the band. The following month, The Best of Crash Test Dummies was released, featuring twelve tracks selected from the band's entire catalog, including most of their singles and several album tracks. The compilation would later be re-released on March 10, 2008 as "Best of Crash Test Dummies - Collections" with two previously unreleased tracks: "Laid Back" and "You Said You'd Meet Me (In California)," the latter being an early version of a song that would later appear on Oooh La La.
In addition a new online store was opened allowing users to purchase downloads from all of the band's post-BMG releases, including Cape Breton Lobster Bash series; a growing collection of songs written about Brad Roberts' experiences within Cape Breton and an annual tradition known as the "Lobster Bash."
On November 11, 2008, Roberts announced in his featured blog on the band's website that he and Ellen Reid are presently recording a new album tentatively titled Toys, adding that the other three members of the band are busy with their families and are unable to commute to New York City to contribute. The following day, Roberts specified in a subsequent journal entry that he has "about 20 songs now, and must pick the best ten." He added Ellen Reid will feature as lead vocalist on one track, which he elaborated on November 18 as "achingly beautiful". On November 23, Roberts added that some "very accomplished, high-priced players and arrangers have volunteered to play on it for free, just because they think it is extremely unique" and the record is "falling into place like a finished crossword puzzle". In July 2009, the title of the album was renamed from Toys to Oooh La La.
A fourth song in the Cape Breton Lobster Bash series was released on July 27, 2009.
Oooh La La was released on May 11, 2010. The album's release was accompanied by the band touring in an "Acoustic Trio" format consisting of Roberts and Ellen Reid, accompanied by either Stuart Cameron or Murray Pulver on guitar. On October 9, 2010, as part of the Canadian leg of the tour, Dan Roberts and Mitch Dorge joined Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid in the band's hometown of Winnipeg for the first performance by the original line-up in a decade. Benjamin Darvill wasn't present for the reunion, despite having played a solo show in town a few days earlier. During the tour, Brad Roberts began the habit of taking photographs at random and posting them on his blog and the band's Facebook page.
In 2011, the band continued to tour in support of Oooh La La. On April 19, 2011, the band released Demo-litions: Cast-off Recordings 1996–97 featuring previously unreleased demos of songs written during the recording of Give Yourself a Hand.
In June 2012, Brad Roberts wrote a blog post saying that there is an incomplete new album lying around, but that producer Stewart Lerman is currently too busy with other projects to work on it.
Following the completion of touring for Oooh La La, the band went on an indefinite hiatus, as Ellen Reid decided to retire from performing and Brad Roberts began to develop back problems. However, the hiatus was ended when Brad Roberts decided to go on a solo tour in 2015.
On February 5, 2016, 'Promised Land' was released by Sony Music, marking the band's first major label release of new material in nearly two decades.
In the spring of 2016, Brad Roberts announced his first tour of Canada in five years. In an interview about the tour, Roberts provided an update about the other members of the band, who he still keeps in touch with: Dan Roberts now has a family in Winnipeg, Mitch Dorge devotes most of his time now to motivational speaking at schools, Ellen Reid is married and spends her time creating elaborate Facebook pages with all her own illustrations, and Benjamin Darvill has found great success for himself as Son of Dave. Roberts confirmed that he is the last remaining active member of Crash Test Dummies, with it just being him and guitarist Stuart Cameron going on tour.
In July 2018, a reunited photo of Brad Roberts, Ellen Reid, Dan Roberts, and Mitch Dorge was posted on the official Crash Test Dummies Facebook page, along with the announcement of Canadian tour dates for later in the year.
Throughout their career, Crash Test Dummies have experimented with many different styles and genres of music. These styles include the acoustic folk rock of The Ghosts That Haunt Me, the electric alternative rock of A Worm's Life, the urban influences of Give Yourself a Hand, and the optigan-based compositions of Oooh La La!.
Crash Test Dummies recorded as a full five piece band from their debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me until Give Yourself a Hand. At this time, the most notable instrumentation of the band's music included Brad Roberts' lead guitar, Ellen Reid's keyboards, and Benjamin Darvill's harmonica. Another notable element of Crash Test Dummies' music are the contrasting harmonies between Brad Roberts' deep lead vocals and Ellen Reid's backing vocals in the higher register.
Beginning with I Don't Care That You Don't Mind in 2001, the band's albums were recorded primarily by Brad Roberts, Ellen Reid, and a rotating roster of session musicians.
One of the biggest influences for Brad Roberts was the band XTC and Andy Partridge in particular. The band even went on to cover two of XTC's songs: "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" for the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber, and "All You Pretty Girls" for the XTC tribute album A Testimonial Dinner.
|Crash Test Dummies awards and nominations|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1995||Crash Test Dummies||Best New Artist||Nominated|
|"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm"||Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Nominated|
|God Shuffled His Feet||Best Alternative Music Album||Nominated|
The Juno Awards is a Canadian awards ceremony presented annually by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Crash Test Dummies won the 1992 Juno for Group of the Year and received an additional 10 nominations.
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1992||Crash Test Dummies||Group of the Year||Won|
|The Ghosts That Haunt Me||Best Album||Nominated|
|Kevin Mutch, The Ghosts That Haunt Me||Best Album Design||Nominated|
|Dale Heslip, "Superman's Song"||Best Video||Nominated|
|1994||Kevin Mutch, God Shuffled His Feet||Best Album Design||Nominated|
|Dale Heslip, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm"||Best Video||Nominated|
|1995||Crash Test Dummies||Entertainer of the Year||Nominated|
|Crash Test Dummies||Group of the Year||Nominated|
|"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm"||Single of the Year||Nominated|
|1996||Tim Hamilton, "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"||Best Video||Nominated|
|2000||Greg Wells, "Keep A Lid On Things" and "Get You in the Morning"||Best Producer||Nominated|
"Androgynous" is a song by The Replacements featured on their album Let It Be which came out in 1984.
The song was covered by Crash Test Dummies and released as the third and final single from their 1991 debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me.
Joan Jett also covered the song on both her albums Naked and Sinner.
Jubilee also covered the song. Their version appeared as the B-side on their first single, "Rebel Hiss".
In 2015, the song was covered by Joan Jett again, along with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Miley Cyrus, for Cyrus's Backyard Sessions video series to support the Happy Hippie Foundation, an organization founded by Cyrus to support homeless LGBT youth.
Towards the end of the song, you can hear Paul Westerberg sing the words "Jefferson's Cock". Occasionally, The Replacements would play gigs in Minneapolis under this name, with the band members wearing dresses.Brad Roberts
Bradley Kenneth "Brad" Roberts (born January 10, 1964) is the lead singer and guitarist for the Canadian folk-rock band Crash Test Dummies. He sings in the bass-baritone range.Crash Test Dummies discography
The discography of Canadian folk rock/alternative rock band Crash Test Dummies consists of nine studio albums, 23 singles, one live album, a greatest hits compilation, and two video releases. This list does not include material recorded by band members individually or with other side projects.
Crash Test Dummies is most identifiable through Brad Roberts' distinctive bass-baritone voice, and the backing/occasional lead vocals of Ellen Reid. During its heyday, the band consisted of Roberts, Ellen Reid (co-vocals, keyboards), Brad's brother Dan Roberts (bass guitar), Benjamin Darvill (harmonica, mandolin), and Mitch Dorge (drums, percussion). Today, only Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid have appeared on every album, while Dan Roberts still occasionally tours with the band. Mitch Dorge has been busy working with Tuesday's Girl and Charlie Redstar, along with his own projects, since 2002, but is rumoured to reunite with the band in the fall of 2010 for a show in Winnipeg. Benjamin Darvill has been busy with his solo project Son of Dave since 2000 and is unlikely to play with the band again, since he now lives in London.Crash test dummy
A crash test dummy is a full-scale anthropomorphic test device (ATD) that simulates the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body, and is usually instrumented to record data about the dynamic behavior of the ATD in simulated vehicle impacts. The Crash Test Dummy is widely used by researchers and automobile companies to predict the biomechanics, force, impact, and injury of a human being in an automobile crash. This data can include variables such as velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, and deceleration rates during a collision for use in crash tests. The more advanced dummies are sophisticated machines designed to behave as a human body and with many sensors to record the forces of an impact; they may cost over US$400,000.For the purpose of U.S. regulation and Global Technical Regulations and for clear communication in safety and seating design, dummies carry specifically designated reference points, such as the H-point; these are also used, for example, in automotive design.
Crash test dummies remain indispensable in the development of and ergonomics in all types of vehicles, from automobiles to aircraft.
There are many specialized dummies used for obesity, children, rib impact, and spinal impact. THOR is a very advanced dummy because it uses sensors and has a humanlike spine and pelvis. Special classes of dummies called Hybrid IIIs are designed to research the effects of frontal impacts, and are less useful in assessing the effects of other types of impact, such as side impacts, rear impacts, or rollovers. Hybrid IIIs use dummies that directed towards a specific age, for example, a typical ten year old, six year old, three year old, and a grown man.There are certain testing procedures for Hybrid IIIs to ensure that they obtain a correct humanlike neck flexure, and to ensure that they would react to a crash in a similar way that human bodies would. Using cadavers for these topics of research is more realistic than using a dummy for physiologic reasons, but it raises many moral dilemmas.Going across a moral ethics line, automobile companies have used a human cadaver, a pig, and people who have volunteered to be tested upon impact. A pig was used specifically for steering wheel impact because they have an internal structure similar to humans, and can be easily placed correctly via sitting up right in the vehicle. Human cadavers along with animals are not personally able to give consent to research studies, although animal testing is not prevalent today.There are studies that use specific cadavers including obese cadavers, and children cadavers. Also, studies show how cadavers have been used to modify different parts of a car such as the seatbelt Each new car that is made provides a different structural impact which provides the conclusion that cadavers and crash test dummies will be useful for a long time.Ellen Reid
Ellen Lorraine Reid (born 14 July 1966) is a Canadian musician. She provides backing vocals, piano, keyboards and accordion for the Canadian rock band Crash Test Dummies.
On the band's fourth album, Reid sang lead vocals on "Just Chillin'", "Get You in the Morning" and "A Little Something". She also shared lead vocals with Brad Roberts on the single B-sides, "Filter Queen" and "Party's Over". She also sang lead during some concerts on "Samson and Delilah (If I Had My Way)" and on the hit, "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead", a cover of the XTC song.In 2001, Reid released her debut solo album, Cinderellen.In 2002 Reid took part in the recording of the Crash Test Dummies' Christmas album, entitled Jingle All the Way. In 2004 she was also involved in the recording of the Dummies' Songs of the Unforgiven album. The Crash Test Dummies, with Brad Roberts, Ellen Reid and Stuart Cameron, have continued to record and tour throughout 2010/2011.God Shuffled His Feet
God Shuffled His Feet is the second album by the Crash Test Dummies, released in 1993. It features their most popular single, "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm". The cover art superimposes the band members' faces over the figures of Titian's painting Bacchus and Ariadne. It was their most successful album commercially.I Don't Care That You Don't Mind
I Don't Care That You Don't Mind is the fifth studio album by Crash Test Dummies. The album began as a solo album for Brad Roberts, while he was recuperating in the town of Argyle, Nova Scotia after suffering a near-fatal car accident in September 2000. Crash Test Dummies' name was put on the album after the band (minus Benjamin Darvill) agreed to tour the album.Jingle All the Way (Crash Test Dummies album)
Jingle All the Way is the sixth studio album by Crash Test Dummies.Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" is a song by the Canadian folk rock group Crash Test Dummies, It was released on October 1, 1993 as the lead single from their second album, God Shuffled His Feet. Despite receiving mostly negative reviews from critics, it was very successful around the world, peaking at number one in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also became a top-five hit on both the UK Singles Chart and the all-genre US Billboard Hot 100, but in the band's native Canada, it stalled at number 14 on the RPM Top Singles chart.Oooh La La! (Crash Test Dummies album)
Oooh La La! is the ninth studio album by the Crash Test Dummies, released 11 May 2010 on Deep Fried Records, distributed by MRI Records. The songs on the album are inspired by the Optigan and Omnichord toy instruments.Promised Land (Crash Test Dummies song)
"Promised Land" is a collaboration between producer/composer Marc Mysterio, rock band Crash Test Dummies and Mark Crozer meant to honor and benefit the refugees now descending upon Europe. Mysterio and Crash Test Dummies previously collaborated in March 2015, when Mysterio released a remix of the band's 1993 hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.On February 5, 2016, 'Promised Land' was released by Sony Music, marking the band's first major label release of new material in nearly two decades.Superman's Song
"Superman's Song" was the first single of the Canadian folk-rock group Crash Test Dummies and came from their 1991 debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me. The single was the group's first hit, charting in both Canada (#4) and the United States (#56). It was also featured in the pilot of the Canadian TV series Due South.The song was covered by Lucy Wainwright Roche, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche of The Roches, on her second EP 8 More. It also has been covered by Nataly Dawn.The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" is a song written by Andy Partridge of XTC for their 1992 album Nonsuch. It was their second number one hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart after "Mayor of Simpleton", and reached number 71 on the UK Singles Chart. The song tells the story of Peter Pumpkinhead, a man who comes to an unspecified town, "spreading wisdom and cash around." He is extremely popular with the public, but extremely unpopular with the government. In the end, he is nailed to wood by his enemies for "being too good".
The song was inspired by a jack o'lantern Partridge had carved and placed on a fence post in his garden for Halloween. Afterward, Partridge walked past the pumpkin each day on the way to his composing shed and, feeling sorry for the increasingly decaying fruity head, decided to write a song about him. He said that he began thinking about "what would happen if there was somebody on Earth who was kind of perfect ... God, they'd make so many enemies!"The Best of Crash Test Dummies
The Best of Crash Test Dummies is a 2007 compilation album by the Crash Test Dummies. It is released by Sony BMG and it includes songs from both the band's BMG and independent releases. It was released on October 1, 2007 (2007-10-01) and re-released on March 10, 2008 with the inclusion of two previously unreleased tracks. The re-release carries a slightly different title of, "Best Of Crash Test Dummies - Collections".