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April Wine - 1984 Animal Grace




ARTIST: April Wine
ALBUM: Animal Grace
LABEL: Capitol, Aquarius
SERIAL: ST-12311, AQR-535
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1990, Capitol, CDP 7 48415 * 2009, Unidisc, PID 852435

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Myles Goodwyn - vocals, guitar * Gary Moffet - guitars, backing vocals * Brian Greenway - guitars, backing vocals * Steve Lang - bass, backing vocals * Jerry Mercer - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 This Could Be The Right One * 02 Sons Of The Pioneers * 03 Without You Love * 04 Rock Tonite * 05 Hard Rock Kid * 06 Money Talks * 07 Gimme That Thing Called Love * 08 Too Hot To Handle * 09 Last Time I'll Ever Sing The Blues

WEBLINKS: www.aprilwine.ca


Background
Following a string of successful albums and singles, in 1984 the pressure was certainly on April Wine to keep the dollars flowing into record company coffers. 'Power Play' had sold well but not quite matched the success achieved by 'Nature Of The Beast' ... 'Animal Grace' was meant to be the 'big one', but sadly it signalled the beginning of the end of this classic Canadian institution - for a while at least.


The Songs
'This Could Be The Right One' surges out of the gate, uptempo and glistening with AOR traits - a hook that works overtime and that circular cascading chorus recalling the best of BJH and Triumph in the 80's. It was a minor hit which is well short of what it deserved. 'Sons Of The Pioneers' continues the theme, you'll find the bridge very similar to the verses in Harlequin's 'Love On The Rocks' (circa 'Love Crimes'), giving way to some ferocious power at chorus time : growling guitars and a tiered vocal attack making for a dramatic AOR anthem. The boys visit midtempo territory for 'Without Your Love', the closest we get to a ballad on this offering. Hooks everywhere in combination with tasteful piano and subdued/classy vocals and guitar for another tick in the win column. 'Rock Tonite' and 'Hard Rock Kid' provide great live concert fodder full of adrenaline and melody (imagine Kiss meets Journey), the former clearly intended as a show opener, the latter a rousing cover (not sure who they covered though ??) with amended/added lyrics from Mr Goodwyn. The album's second half is less consistent. 'Money Talks' gets a passing grade but 'Last Time I'll Ever Sing The Blues', although well played, is a little out of place here and a bizarre end to the album. 'Too Hot To Handle' is side two's gem, a hook and chorus festival not unlike Krokus/Cheap Trick in their mid 80's AOR period. Synth is used all over the record, stabbing here and there, providing atmosphere elsewhere but never dominating.


In Summary
'Animal Grace' got a pretty rough deal from fans and critics alike when it came out. Upon reflection it's well produced (Mike Stone) with abundant hooks and melodies. Despite only achieving moderate success (album and singles charted in the USA but outside the top 40) it presents memorable and satisfying AOR to the listener, and is as good a reason as any to fire up the coffee machine!


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Comments

#1 | gdazegod on February 01 2012 21:27:57
Welcome back Lee. You've been a long time away.. cheerleader
#2 | AOR Lee on March 11 2014 14:45:44
This was my first review back after a couple of years in the writing wilderness. Listened to this again and I'd probaby write a very similar review now. This is, for me a crucial AOR gem!
#3 | super80boy on May 01 2016 15:53:02
Having AOR maestro producer Mike Stone onboard gave this album a shot in the arm, resulting in some choice cuts - 'Gimme That Thing Called Love', 'Sons Of The Pioneers' (has a great old school music video), 'This Could Be The Right One' and 'Too Hot To Handle'.

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