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Max Webster - 1976 Max Webster

ARTIST: Max Webster
ALBUM: Max Webster
LABEL: Taurus Records
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2001, Anthem (Canada), ANBD-1006 * 2012, Rock Candy Records, CANDY106


LINEUP: Kim Mitchell - vocals, guitars * Mike Tilka - bass, vocals * Terry Watkinson - keyboards, vocals * Paul Kersey - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hangover * 02 Here Among The Cats * 03 Blowing The Blues Away * 04 Summer Turning Blue * 05 Toronto Tontos * 06 Coming Off The Moon * 07 Only Your Nose Knows * 08 Summer's Up * 09 Lily


Over the years, there have been some bands that have lived on the edge of wackiness throughout their career. Sadly ignored until now, Canada's Max Webster are a classic case in point. Reputedly named after a random name was drawn out of a phonebook, the history of the original band members and their comings and goings would be enough to fill the said phone book. Based in Toronto, Max Webster formed in 1973 and recorded and released this on their own Taurus Records label during 1976. There are so many unusual sounds on this album, and as for the lyrics, you can (max) factor in the 'fifth' member of the band - Pye Dubois, who would provide lyrical assistance over the years, as he would with Canadian contemporaries Rush. Let's take a look at this long lost classic of maple leaf mayhem!

The Songs
A wail of feedback precedes opener 'Hangover', it's not long before Mitchell takes control with a series of riffs and lyrical gestures that would emulate the best of The Tubes. 'Here Among The Cats' changes pace and style, with Watkinson adding some organ lines into the mix, giving off a progressive odour. 'Blowing The Blues Away' is a simplistic pop song, it's followed by the ballad 'Summer Turning Blue' which drifts in and out of consciousness, piano and a slow beat rhythm section just enough to get this over the finish line. 'Toronto Tontos' is perhaps the wackiest song on the LP, and if you've heard the intro line 'Bonjour aux amis de malheur, Nous sommes fous', you'll know what I mean. Plus the outtro lyric No cigarettes.. no matches.. sends this one over the edge. Even Frank Zappa will be hard-pressed to keep up with this one. Getting back to some hard rock moves is 'Coming Off The Moon', for me one of the best 'rock' tracks on the LP. 'Only Your Nose Knows' is pretty good too, and you can't help notice some of those Rush like passages through the middle, especially the bass. 'Summer's Up' is a quirky little number, very 70's pop, and it has its moments. Closer 'Lily ' is all of 7 and a half minutes, and it encompasses many styles throughout, including prog, pomp and hard rock. Some nice synth lines from Watkinson make this one a compulsory listen.

In Summary
Kersey would only last the distance for this one album, he was replaced by Gary McCracken (future Wrabit drummer) for the bands second album 'High Class in Borrowed Shoes'. The band would go on to bamboozle audiences with their fusion of progressive and hard rock coupled with an element of eccentricity right up until 1981, when Mitchell pulled the plug on the band and went solo, which he has been doing ever since. A very different band, worth investigating..

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#1 | gdazegod on October 24 2009 16:07:37
There will be more Max Webster reviews in the pipeline!
#2 | Eric on October 24 2009 17:04:13
Perennial opening act for Rush, this was an odd band and I tend to like Mitchell's solo albums better, in particular his first EP. With that said, Max Webster were original, unique and shame on us for not getting to thier albums sooner!
#3 | Nick C on October 25 2009 16:24:03
Max were great, I like all their albums... Canada had more than it's fair share of wacky bands? Mannequin spring immediately to mind, anyone remember them?
#4 | Eric on October 25 2009 18:42:19
Vaguely.... Goddo were an odd bunch too...Grin
#5 | reyno-roxx on October 25 2009 21:20:07
I remember Mannequin. They became The Works and then Wall Of Silence.
#6 | Jez on October 26 2009 02:35:36
Gotta Love Max Webster. The debut isn't my fave (that award goes to the mighty 'Universal Juveniles') but no doubting all of thier albums are good-great.
#7 | sabace on February 20 2010 15:32:12
this is probably the most straight forward rock lp they released and is pretty good, but universal juveniles and mutiny up my sleeve are light years better!
#8 | rkbluez on July 10 2012 03:32:53
Great album by this talented off the wall band...but I like High Class...and Mutiny a little better...still this is some classic Canadian rock at it's finest.
#9 | super80boy on June 13 2015 16:59:48
Lots of styles present themselves on this debut, but they are all wrapped up into a mighty fun set of songs. A very impressive debut.
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