One of Canada’s longest running and most successful hard rock bands originally hailed from the Maritimes, and then relocated to Montreal for the start a very busy and brilliant 14 year run.
If you lived in Canada throughout the 70s and 80s, you likely heard plenty of April Wine songs on the radio. The band had a huge string of hits right from their debut album in 1971 with “Fast Train”. Their second album saw 2 more hits, including a cover of “You Could’ve Been A Lady”, which made the US charts. But the band never played south of the border and would continue to be a Canadian only phenomenon for a number of years with a few line up changes, more hit singles, and massive tours across Canada. That changed in 1978 though with the addition of guitarist Brian Greenway to beef up the line up of founding member and main singer and writer Myles Goodwyn, guitarist Gary Moffet, bass player Steve Lang, and legendary Canadian drummer Jerry Mercer. The band’s album “First Glance” would include their breakthrough US hit “Roller”, and for the next several years and albums it was large arena and stadium tours and huge selling albums throughout North America, as well as a UK tour.
When the band split in 1984 following the “Animal Grace” album and farewell tour, it was a shock and a shame to fans, and very little reason [or dirt] was given. Band members went on to various projects – Moffet went in to music production, and playing on other albums, Mercer joined the Buzz Band, Lang got out of music, Greenway released an underrated solo album [with a large cast of guests], and Goodwyn would release 1 more contractual April Wine album [with session players and Greenway], and a solo album. He’d also relocated to the Bahamas. Goodwyn reformed the band [with a slightly different line up in the early 90s and the band has been performing since then, with a few further changes and a few albums during that period. Over the past year or so the band has scaled back tour dates, and both Goodwyn and Greenway have started up new projects.
And that all brings us to this – Myles Goodwyn “Just Between You And Me”: A Memoir. I don’t think Myles has ever been a huge fan of doing interviews or airing band issues in the press. In his memoir though Goodwyn opens up about a lot of his own issues – band and personal, as well as conflicts and changes in the band over the years that were never discussed in the press. Give him credit for discussing his divorces, his issues with past band members, his alcohol abuse, and numerous other topics. He sets the record straight [from his perspective] about former AW members Jim Clench [RIP], Gary Moffet, David, Jim and Richie Henman, Jerry Mercer and Carl Dixon [Carl has slightly different tale in his own book..]. To his credit he also takes responsibility for his own troubles within the band. The book also includes quotes from other band members [via new quote or from old press], which helps to add to the details, so it’s not all just Myles’ point of view on some touchy subjects. Despite everything though Goodwyn was/is the driving force of April Wine’s success and contributed greatly to Canadian music. Very few bands or musicians have had such success and longetivity.
Just Between You And Me may not be an end-all history of one of Canada’s greatest bands, but is close. A good run through of April Wine’s history and a fascinating read in to the man’s early years and upbringing. Highly recommended for any fan. I read through most of this in a day, having been a huge fan and familiar with the band’s history I was eager to read on and fill in things I didn’t know. Now I’m going back and reading more thoroughly [380 pages!]. Plenty of old pics of Myles early life, family, and private band pics. Check it out via Amazon or at any book store.
*I was going to add on a list of favorite April Wine songs, but frankly that would take too long and change too much before I could finish it. I view the band’s output up until 1977 differently to the band that struck it big from 1978-84. So, I will give you a short list of my favorite LPs – highly recommended.
Electric Jewels (1973) – this album saw a mix of songs contributed by Myles Goodwyn and bass player Jim Clench. The 2 also shared vocals on a number of songs. It also includes the Richie and David Henman, as they left during the making of the album and replaced by Gary Moffet and Jerry Mercer. Richie Henman told me years ago that on the title track the original band fades out during a change up in the song and the new AW kicks in. besides that epic track, this album also boasts the hits Weeping Widow, Lady Run Lady Hide, and a number of classics like Come On Along, Cat’s Claw, and The Band Has Just Begun
Stand Back (1974) – with Myles Goodwyn now the main writer and singer [Clench contributed just 3 tracks here], the band has a more direct hard rock sound, and a fine production. Again, lots of hits and classics, most notably Oowatanite [by Clench], 2 ballads Cum Hear The Band and Tonite Is A Wonderful Time, as well as a number of guitar rockers in Victim Of Your Love, Don’t Push Me Around, and Highway Hard Run [originally to be titled Highway Hard On!]
The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy (1975) – Jim Clench had left, thus leaving Goodwyn as the band’s only writer and singer And producer. A great album though, includes rockers Gimmie Love, So Bad (featuring Frank Marino),as well as the ballads Wings of Love and Like A Lover Like A Song.
First Glance (1978)- the first to feature 3rd guitarist Brian Greenway, who contributed the track Right Down To It [and sang it]. Included the band’s big US breakthrough hit Roller, as well as hits Rock n Roll Is A Vicious Game and Coming Right Down On Top Of Me. More so though it featured a new found energy and more hard rock with tracks like Get Ready For Love, Hot On The Wheels Of Love, and the darker Silver Dollar. First and my favorite of the new era.
Harder …Faster (1979) – a great follow up and more success with hits Say Hello and I Like To Rock. Also included my favorite Brian Greenway tune Before The Dawn. Greenway sang that, as well as the band’s 3 guitar masterpiece cover of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Nature Of The Beast (1981) – the band peaked with this album, so many classics and hits, so much radio air play … Sign Of The Gypsy Queen, Just Between You And Me, Wanna Rock, All Over Town, Big City Girls, Future Tense….fantastic production from Myles Goodwyn and Mike Stone.
The follow up albums, albeit had their moments were definitely not as hot.
Attitude (1993) – the band’s comeback album. back to being a huge rock album, lots of radio play and hits, a few videos, Jim Clench was back in the band, and [guitarist] Steve Segal added a lot to the more hard rockin approach. Givin It Takin It, That’s Love, Here’s Looking At You Kid, Strange Kind of Love – all first rate ‘Wine rockers, plus hit ballads in If You Believe In Me and Voice In My Heart. Fantastic disc beginning to end. Sadly the band struggled to follow it up well, and then fewer albums would happen down the road.
Here’s hoping there’s more to come – new music, archival releases, nice re-issues, etc…
KJJ, Oct ’16