Today in Music History:
In 1970, The New York Times reported that Catholic and Protestant youth groups had adopted the Yellow Submarine as a religious symbol.If any of you have been following the cat for more than a year then you will know this is the second time I've hit this band, but it is April and I had some wine this past weekend and the first time around I didn't really do this band justice. Especially since April Wine has just entered their 36th year together and are preparing to release a new album this spring. I enjoyed very much their last studio album which was released in 2001, although I think it was only available as an import in the states. So I think this time I'll do the boys a gooder.
April Wine formed in late 1969 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but soon relocated to Montreal. "Fast Train," their first hit, appeared in 1971 and the next year brought the band's first Canadian number one single, "You Could Have Been a Lady." Following the Gold success of the second album and that single it was clear that April Wine had the chance to become one of Canada's most significant rock bands. When they released their fourth album Stand Back they became the superstar Canadian band, with double platinum success. They now had songs like Tonight Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love, Cum Hear The Band, Slowpoke, Don't Push Me Around, and Oowatanite. Yet they had barely cracked the charts in the States.
In 1977 April Wine was selected to pose as the headliner for a charity event at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto with a group called The Cockroaches as the opening act. That was all secrecy type stuff as was revealed on the day of the show as The Cockroaches actually turned out to be The Rolling Stones who recorded their Love You Live album that night. April Wine also recorded a live album called Live at the El Mocambo.
I first came in contact with April Wine from their albums Live at the El Macambo and 1978's First Glance. It was about this time that they begin to draw attention from fans in the states. As with the case of Grand Funk, April wine was a band that the critics just loved to hate. That didn't matter, because over the next few years they became a force to be reckoned with. Major artists such as Rush, Journey and Styx requested that April Wine open their shows in the United States. American audiences were finally being exposed to this "new" band called April Wine. Canada's best kept secret was finally out in the open. Then in 1979 they released Harder...Faster which is the album that really sold me. The shit on there blew me away. The album featured the hardest rock that April Wine had ever recorded. This album included such powerful songs as I Like To Rock, which American radio embraced, and Say Hello which went to the top of the charts in Canada. The popularity of these songs helped keep the album on Billboard's 200 Album charts for over 40 weeks! Harder...Faster helped the group collect more Gold and Platinum awards on both sides of the border. Their biggest US hit came in 1981 with the song Just Between You and Me from the The Nature Of The Beast album. But that was just cheezy schmaltz. Everything prior to that album was pure rock n roll. I figure that they thought they had to have a snarky ballad to win over American audiences. And they did. I had the pleasure of seeing April Wine perform in a small bar here a couple years ago and I was wickedly surprised. Instead of a bunch of old farts who were just going thru the motions, they sounded excellent and their old stuff sounded better than ever and the new stuff they showcased had me searching for their new album Back to the Mansion the next day. In fact they fucking rocked the roof off that place.
I always thought it was cool that as an American, I had "discovered" April Wine before they got big in the states. People would ask me who's that you're listening to, and I would say "oh that's April Wine a cool Canadian band," and then pretty soon they were listening to them. April Wine's lineup remains largely unchanged with the original members from the seventies, Myles Goodwyn, Brian Greenway, Jerry Mercer and Jim Clench. Keep rockin' guys and I'll keep buyin'. Just like fine wine, they keep getting better.
It's time to reacquaint ourselves with this band and look thru the years at some classic stuff that maybe a lot of folks haven't heard.