Tuesday, October 13, 2009

April Wine

April Wine are best known as an arena rock band from the late 70's and early 80's. However before their breakthrough they were just another struggling underground rock band. Initially from outside of Halifax, they moved to Montreal around 1970. To me, this is interesting because it summons up an era where Montreal was a rock and roll town; a place where bands would move in order to have ready access to a large market of college age kids who go out and see live music.

My own hometown of Boston had a similar vibe around that time. It's hard to picture native New Yorkers like Steven Tyler and Peter Wolf moving to Boston to "make it" (with Aerosmith and J.Geils Band respectively), yet that was what they did. Even bands that were based out of New York like the Velvet Underground played Boston more often than their hometown.

The move to Montreal is also interesting because April Wine are a 100% Anglophone band. Whether they interacted at all with the city's Francophone musicians I don't know, but the fact that they moved to Montreal at all says a lot about the size of the city's English speaking market at the time. After arriving in Montreal they picked up a local bass player, Jim Clench, and signed to Aquarius Records, a recently formed local label, that, while putting out mostly Anglo artists, did release a couple singles by ex-Sinners singer Francois Guy.

Their second LP for Aquarius, 1972's "On Record", is my favorite. It's a dirty, dusty, rock record with loads of catchy hooks. It's all originals except for two interesting covers. Firstly, "Bad Side of the Moon", written by Elton John of all people. I am not at all familiar with the EJ OG, but the April Wine version starts off with a Cats in the Cradle feel, before going into some prime early 70's hesher groove.

The second cover is a version of Hot Chocolate's "You Could Have Been a Lady." Hot Chocolate are best known for lightweight disco flavored pop like "You Sexy Thing." To me, this track is still pop, in that way that the years 1970-1972 occasionally allowed some heavy jams to be considered pop music.

April Wine took the tune and sped it up, turning it into more of a rock song. The slinky funk of the original becomes a more straightforward chugging groove complete with one of those "Errryboy put yo' hands togethah!" groovy breakdowns.

Of course, NEITHER version holds a candle to this one:

Digging around the internet, someone has ripped the entire April Wine LP "On Record", check it below:



Blogger bricks said...

That was damn near demonic!

January 4, 2010 at 5:05:00 PM PST  

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