Jim Clench in-memorium
April Wine’s roots date back to the late Sixties. The first pairing of Myles Goodwyn with the Henmans was when he played in a Halifax band called Woody’s Termites with Jim. After the band’s breakup in ’68, they formed Squirrel with Gordie Meagher. Goodwyn then went on to form East Gate Sanctuary. Jim hooked up with his two cousins David & Ritchie and George Mack to form Prism – no relation to the mid 70’s – present Vancouver-based group of the same name. After a name-change to April Wine and the departure of Mack, the Henmans approached Goodwyn to join.
The band quickly became a staple diet of the Maritime bar menu, and moved to Montreal in the summer of 1970 with their gear, a couple of bucks and big dreams. They were noticed by RCA Records and in ’71 the ’45 “Fast Train” quickly became a hit across the country. Their first full record, self-titled, came out a few months later. Produced by Billy Hill, it also contained the lead off track “Oceana” and “Wench”.
The band was about to return to the studios when Jim Clench replaced Jim Henman on bass. Produced by Ralph Murphy, ON RECORD was on the shelves less than a year later and spawned the group’s first number one hit, “Could’ve Been A Lady”. Their second gold single came mere months later with the release of “Drop Your Guns.” Considered a pinnacle album in the history of Canadian rock, the album also contained “Work All Day” and a raucus version of Elton John’s “Bad Side of the Moon”. Although it had the same tracklisting, the American version of the album featured a different cover and was self-titled, since their actual debut album wasn’t picked up for US distribution.
The other Henmans also parted ways from the group in ’73 during the recording of ELECTRIC JEWELS. Replacing them were Gary Moffet on guitars and Jerry Mercer (ex of D’Arcy and Mashmakhan) on drums. The record featured the hits “The Band Has Just Begun,” “Just Like That,” “Cat’s Claw,” “Lady Run Lady Hide,” and the timeless classic “Weeping Widow” b/w the previously unreleased “Tell Your Mama.”
’74 saw the group embark on their first national tour and also saw the release of the single “I’m On Fire For You Baby”. This 45 is extremely rare as the song was never released on any studio album except greatest hits packages. By this time April Wine had made a name for themselves for cutting no-nonsense rockers as well as showing incredible melody penning several “I love you the sky is blue” ballads.
Later that same year saw the release of the group’s first live recording, entitled, coincidentally enough APRIL WINE LIVE. The record captured the sheer power of their stage presence and showed their detractors they were not just a radiopop/love song band and why they were headlining concerts from coast to coast.
STAND BACK was cut in ’75 and was backed by the hits “I Wouldn’t Want To Lose Your Love”, “Oowatanite” and “Cum Hear The Band”. The band’s first attempt at self-production, other tracks from the album included “Victim For Your Love” and “Don’t Push Me Around”, making the album one of their most popular sellers to this day. Clench left the group following the subsequent tour to join BTO and later LOVERBOY, though he rejoined the Wine ranks in the late 90’s. Steve Lang became the band’s third bassist shortly thereafter.
April Wine made history in ’76 with THE WHOLE WORLD’S GOING CRAZY. Backed by the power of the title track, the record was the first by a Canadian group to go platinum (100,000 units). In retrospect it may have been a bad decision on the part of management to release FOREVER FOR NOW that same year, as it failed to build on the momentum gained by its predecessor, though it did have “You Won’t Dance With Me” as a single, as well as the title track, “Child’s Garden” and “Marjorie”. Originally intended as a Myles Goodwyn solo project, the record possessed less of a moderately heavy sound, leaning more to the eclectic personal tastes of Goodwyn.
Brian Greenway joined the band in ’77 after the LIVE AT EL MOCAMBO album (taped as the band opened two nights for The Cockroaches, The Rolling Stones under an alias) and instantly showed that more guitars is sometimes better when they released FIRST GLANCE early the next year, the first disc done for their new label, Capitol Records. The “one big happy heavy axe sound” was evidenced by cuts like “Roller” and “Hot On The Wheels of Love” and broke the group out of its restraints, now headlining major events outside the Great White North.
HARDER FASTER came out in ’80 and instantly went gold thanks to the driving force of “I Like To Rock” and the cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” featuring Greenway on vocals. Even the power ballad “Tonite” was laced with bridges that grabbed you by the balls. Greenway said that record was definitely his favourite. Laughing, he said that calling the experience of recording in an English mansion ‘unique’ was an understatement.
“You had to have this whole vibe going on back then. We’re there living in this big, cold stone castle. I didn’t have a car, I had no idea where we were. It might be fun today, but I hated it at the time. And everything was so bloody expensive. We were there for three very long months. Even in the nightclubs, I’d be watching these comedians, with no idea what they’d just said. Everyone’s laughing away, and I’m sitting there laughing politely,” he said.
Goodwyn also found time between records to produce TEAZE‘s ONE NIGHT STAND lp, his first crack at being behind the helm for someone else.
They travelled to England to record THE NATURE OF THE BEAST early the next year. “Just Between You and Me,” which featured portions in French, was released as the first single and has stood the test of time as one of the all-time best selling power ballads in Canadian history, followed closely by the second single “Sign Of The Gypsy Queen”. But it’s the sheer presence of the rockers “All Over Town”, “Future Tense”, “Crash and Burn” and “Tellin Me Lies” that make it most critics’ pick as their best work. By this time April Wine was headlining major gigs all over Europe as well as here in North America.
The follow up came almost two years later when POWER PLAY was released. Though a great record, it had the misfortune of following a fantastic one. It showed the band’s versatility with the hard-edged “Blood Money” and “Anything You Want” as well as the power ballad they were now infamous for in “If You See Kay”. Also noteable was their cover of THE POWDER BLUES BAND‘s “Doin’ It Right”.
After a trio of label-issued ‘best of’ packages in it’s OVER 60 MINUTES WITH … series, next up for the band was ’84’s ANIMAL GRACE. “This Could Be The Right One” was the only single released from the record, though rockers like “Sons Of The Pioneers” and “Hard Rock Kid” and the ballad “Without Your Love” still showcased a musical versatility rivalled byfew. Though the band actually did their last show in Kelowna in July of ’84, Capitol released two April Wine records in ’85. ONE FOR THE ROAD contained the cover of Starship’s “Rock Myself To Sleep”.
In 1986, Capitol released their “Budget Series” reissues of the band’s catalogue from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Usually the only obvious differences between the original pressings and the reissues were the catalog numbers and the color of the labels, but in the case of THE NATURE OF THE BEAST, they inexplicably dropped “Caught In The Crossfire.”
By now Moffet left for other opportunities, including producing Mindstorm’s third album, III, in ’96. In addition to featuring him contributing all guitars on the record, he also co-engineered it, and it also featured a cover of “Weeping Widow.” In ’92, he also produced and appeared on Korea’s eponymous debut album.
WALKING THROUGH FIRE was the last Wine record for awhile and the typical power ballad they’d become known for, “Love Has Remembered Me”, was the only single. A whole swack of greatest hits packages from Capitol Records as well as a re-release of the earlier hits by Aquarius (In Canada only) came out in the next few years. Goodwyn and Greenway both put out solo records in ’88. Greenway’s SERIOUS BUSINESS featured Aldo Nova and Rush‘s Alex Lifeson, and though both were met with critical acceptance, neither solo effort got proper support, so therefore neither set the charts on fire.
But renewed attention for the group prompted Goodwyn to leave the sunny Bahamas and reform the band with Greenway, Mercer, Clench and new guitarist Steve Segal for a cross-Canada tour in ’92. Soon to follow was the first new material in eight years with “If You Believe In Me”. The song would easily fit onto almost any record they’d done before,typical radio-friendly material but said loud and clear that April Wine was back – and with a vengeance. Their mini-reunion sparked an all-new album in ’93 in ATTITUDE. The first single, “Here’s Looking At You Kid” was a classic example of the other side of the April Wine coin, a rocker grabbing you by the balls and never letting go. The album showed a definite maturity in the sound, now encorporating some synthesizers and more studio effects than before. Also let out as singles were “That’s Love” and “Voice In My Heart” … incidentally, it’s Goodwyn’s kid on the cover.
More greatest hits packages hit the stands in 1994, OOWATANITE and THE FIRST DECADE, which also contained the previously unreleased “Am I In Love”, “Somebody Like You”, “Baby It’s You” and “It’s A Pleasure To See You Again”. FRIGATE came out in ’97 and had three singles, “I’m A Man”, “Driving With My Eyes Closed” and “If I Was A Stranger”. Also on the album were a remake of “Tonight Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love” and a cover of Foghat’s mid-seventies’ classic “I Just Want To Make Love To You”. Though the band continued to tour for the rest of the year, they soon dissipated and went their seperate ways.
It wasn’t long however before the public cry beckoned again and the group reformed, less Segal. They can usually be found touring the continent, rocking the house and reminding everyone why they’re one of Canada’s greatest exports of all time. Their latest album, BACK TO THE MANSION came out in time for the summer touring season of 2001. It features new member Carl Dixon, ex of Coney Hatch and most recently from the touring version of The Guess Who of the mid ’90s. Critics and fans agree it was one of the band’s strongest offerings in recent memory, backed by the lead off cut “Won’t Go There No More,” “Holiday,” and “Paradise.”
After another greatest hits package in 2003, the band laid low for a few years, taking time for outside and personal projects, and the occasional group of shows here and there. In 2006 they returned to the studio and did things the old fashioned way for ROUGHLY SPEAKING. With Goodwyn, Greenway and Mercer was bassist Breen LeBoeuf (ex of Motherlode, Offenbach). Done on two inch tape on a 24 track system with half inch master tape and no digital recording whatsoever, the album was a blast from the past and was a critic’s rave. Goodwyn penned seven of the eight tunes, including the lead off “Saw Someone There,” the Beatlesesque “Sheila,” a twangy countryish number called “If You’re Coming,” and “You Don’t Even Know,” reminiscent of the doo wop era. The album covered every bit of ground in rock, even a bluesy rendition of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.”