Paul Naumann memorial
In 1971 Paul Naumann left his band Leather and got together with fellow Torontonian Alex Machin, forming the group Island. Around the same time the remnants of another progressive rock group Lords Of London, in bassist Hughie Leggat, drummer Danny Taylor and Bob Horne on organ were looking for a change, forming Nucleus.
After one album, they hooked up with Nauman and Machin. They caught the attention of Frank Davies, who signed them to his new Daffodil Records in early ’72 and A Foot In Cold Water was born. An offbeat British slang for ‘a shocking experience’, their debut was exactly that, striking gold the same year. Backed by the future classic “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” which scored in Billboard’s Top 25, the album gained critical reviews, despite the length of most of the tracks being too long for conventional airplay. Also on the record were the sleeper hits “On The Wind” and “Deep Freeze”.
The band released A SECOND FOOT IN COLD WATER the next year. Two singles were released, “Love Is Coming” and “Isn’t Love Unkind”, their second crack in the top 25 on Billboard. ALL AROUND US hit the shelves in ’73 and contained only 5 new songs, along with new versions of 4 tracks from the previous 2 lp’s. “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” hit the airwaves again and this time cracked Billboard’s Top 10, as did the second time ’round for “Isn’t Love Unkind”.
Following the record’s dismal showing and dwindling concert draws, the band found themselves without a deal in ’74 but continued on. In 1975 they were picked up by Anthem, label for such heavy hitters as Rush and Max Webster, which prompted the release of the single “Midnight Lady”. After Horne’s leaving in ’76, the band went back into the studios and came out in the summer of ’77 with their fourth record, BREAKING THROUGH, which contained the typical well-written, straight forward sound the band had gained a reputation for, with the cuts “Why?”, the title track, “Save It All For Me” and their last single as a group “Midnight Lady”.
Deciding to go seperate ways in ’77, Leggat formed the ill-fated ThunderRoad, and then Private Eye with his brother Gord. The band’s self titled debut in ’81 was one of the most under-rated albums of the year, and contained the hard-edged radio hit “Your Place Or Mine”. The next year the brothers were in the record stores again with the band simply called Leggat and their debut release ILLUMINATIONS.
Machin resurfaced with CHAMPION in ’85 on the ill-fated Solid Gold Records. Proper marketing was all but an impossibilty as the label folded right after the album release. Despite the prowess of Machin’s solo career, evident in “Sin Sensation” and the lead-off “I’d Lie To You For Love”, no promotion means limited airplay.
In 1984 Capitol Records released a 2 volume greatest hits package entitled FOOTPRINTS 1 & 2. The legion of fans that remained true from the start prompted the remastering of the first three albums, as well as a ‘best of’ package called, coincidentally enough, THE VERY BEST OF A FOOT IN COLD WATER.
Most modern Canadian stars will quickly site ‘Foot as an influence, including Helix releasing a pure kick-ass version of “Make Me Do” in 1984. One of the country’s most under-rated groups, their progressive pop sound was in many ways ahead of its time. They got back together in ’88 for a brief Ontario tour but then faded off again for a few years. They reunited now and again during the 90’s, then Machin joined up with Moxy for a brief stint in 2002. Reunited again, a version of AFICW hit the circuit shortly after, consisting of Machin, Taylor, Leggat, David Aplin (formerly of Lee Aaron) on guitars, and Rick Lamb, who’d played with Hellfield on keyboards. After Lamb‘s death from cancer in 2004, the band drifted apart again.