ALBUM: Strange Streets
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Garfield French - lead vocals * Walter Lawrence - guitar, electric cello * Paul O'Donnell - guitar, harmonica, banjo * Jacques Fillion - keyboards * Dennis French - drums, percussion * Chip Yarwood - flute, synthesizer * Maris Tora - bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Strange Streets * 02 Give My Love To Annie * 03 Someday If You're Lucky * 04 Above Market Street * 05 Old Time Movies * 06 Nanny's Song * 07 Ride The Waves * 08 Catch You Next Time 'Round * 09 Eyes
Catching their big break on a plum support slot for 10cc
in 1975, Toronto's Garfield impressed the power brokers at Mercury Records who were in the audience, enough to land the band a record deal. Created out of the eccentric mind of group leader Garfield French, this rather largish ensemble released four critically praised progressive pop albums culminating with 1981's 'Flights Of Fancy', but commercial success never came easy for the band. The group toured Canada extensively and even performed in the States supporting an oddball line up of acts including Sea Level
, but musically Garfield were just too 'different' to break out in a big way.
How different I hear you ask? Imagine Supertramp
and Pavlov's Dog
in an intimate smoke-filled club and you have a good idea of what Garfield sound like. Lead vocals from French are Geddy Lee, David Surkamp and Roger Hodgson wrapped up in one colorful package and while musically folksy on 'Give My Love To Annie' plus the 'out and out' prog rock on the title track and 'Eyes', the band were nothing short of eclectic and even scored a Canadian hit with the Harry Nilsson
influenced 'Old Time Movies'. A heady mixture and part of why the album succeeds can be laid at the feet of Chip Yarwood who's well placed keyboard work throughout 'Strange Streets' is breathtaking and often quite beautiful - the perfect foil to French's unusual song writing style and vocals.
Never on CD, 'Strange Streets' is an acquired taste and not for everyone although as I write this, I find it a pleasant listen on a hazy spring afternoon. For reasons unknown, the band would call it a day after playing their last show opening for Rush
, but where Garfield French is these days is a mystery.
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