There were some memorable nights for Myles Goodwyn on that stretch of road between his suburban home of Waverly, Nova Scotia and the bright lights and the big city excitement of Halifax. The outbound journey always went smooth as silk, but coming home-that was a different matter. Goodwyn, who cringes at the thought of these days, got into the habit of "borrowing" vehicles for the return journey from his girlfriend's place or a visit to the downtown nightlife. One night, in a caper that may stand as the ultimate metaphor for the overblown expectations and frustrating slow-moving world of the music business he was soon to become a part of, Goodwyn made off with an oil tanker. Driving at five miles per hour because he couldn't figure out the gears, and a sitting duck for any police officer, Goodwyn abandoned the truck and ended the night chasing a horse around a field in the last hope of avoiding a long walk home. [Listen to HOT ON THE WHEELS OF LOVE for further comment on the subject.]
Goodwyn, a founding member of APRIL WINE who would ultimately become the group's main creative force, was just "a boy being a boy" in those days and it is generally understood that he gave up vehicle "borrowing" for lent on or about his 16th birthday, and has not had the urge for short-haul driveaways since.
Nonetheless, this graduate of Sydney Stephan High School and Halifax Vocational, where he studied technical drafting for a few years, never forgot the rebellious spirit, emotional turmoil and developing social consciousness of those teenage years. In the oldest of rock n' roll traditions, those early experiences found there way into songs that ran the gamut from the innocence of YOU WON'T DANCE WITH ME and TONITE IS A WONDERFUL TIME TO FALL IN LOVE, to the rebelliousness of DON'T PUSH ME AROUND and CRASH AND BURN, the tongue-in-cheek locker room humour of SLOWPOKE, and the environmentally-friendly LADY RUN, LADY HIDE, written with Jimmy Clench and dedicated to Mother Earth years before ecology was "green". They were part of a catalogue of songs that, from the early 70's on, assured APRIL WINE their place in rock music history.
In late 1969, when it came to music and lifestyle influences, the Canadian east-coast province of Nova Scotia was pretty much the same as anywhere else in North America during that post-Woodstock winter. The Vietnam War still dominated the news, while albums like "Led Zeppelin", The Beatle's "Abbey Road", Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and "Let It Bleed" from the Rolling Stones, now minus Brain Jones, provided the soundtrack of the day. Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, Plastic Ono Band and The Who's rock opera 'Tommy" debuted, while America got their first taste of King Crimson. Jimi Hendrix made the headlines as he went on trial in Toronto for hash and heroin possession, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono were very much in the post-Beatles' public eye as, among other things, they met with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau for an "Instant Karma Summit".
In the Halifax, Nova Scotia suburb of Waverly during this period, reformed hell-raiser Myles Goodwyn is playing in a group called Woody's Termites but listening with increasing interest to a suggestion by next door neighbour Jimmy Henman that he should join the group he[Jimmy] is in with his cousins, Ritchie and David Henman. Myles and Jimmy have already worked together in a number of bands, including the East Gate Sanctuary, and David and Ritchie played in the Lower Sackville group, Prism. That had all known about each other's musical abilities for years, but it is this current talk of forming a group which will perform only original material that becomes the prime motivator for all concerned to join forces. In December of 1969, full of optimism and high hopes, APRIL WINE - so named by David Henman for no reason of any significance that has ever been articulated - is formed with the Henman's announcing they are going to give it a two- year shot. If they haven't made any significant inroads with in that time frame, it's back to school for an education and a real job.
For a band that plays nothing but original material- the result of the diverse influences and writing styles of David, Jimmy and Myles- the outlook is decidedly bleak. When it becomes obvious the club gigs are not available, they accept an invitation to provide the music for "Lion in Winter" at Halifax's Neptune Theatre. It was "kind of interesting" Goodwyn recalls, but "interesting" is not the key to the highway or to their Ford Econoline van which is jammed to the roofrack with musical equipment. They have been sending out feelers to clubs, agents and managers looking for even the tiniest show of interest. In March of 1970, they receive a reply from a Montreal club called Laugh-In that seems to offer the break they have been waiting for.
There's more than a passing irony in the circumstances and the date on which the original members of APRIL WINE decide it's time for "goin' down the road". It's April Fool's Day 1970, and with exactly $100 in ready cash between them, they head west for their perceived rendezvous with rock n' roll destiny.
It is not hard to imagine their excitement driving into Montreal that night, anticipating their first crack at the big time. Heading across the river and into the neon glare of the city centre, which, typical of Montreal nights, seems more alive at this time of the day than during afternoon rush hour, they finally arrive at Laugh-In. For the four members of APRIL WINE, at that moment, the club was aptly named.
There is, in fact, no gig and the letter they were holding from the venue's management is actually a nicely worded "don't call us, we'll call you" note with a salutary closing that reads..."if your ever in town, drop in and see us". The group had taken that as an open invitation and here they were, ready to rock.
There's the initial disappointment and then the desperate thoughts of survival on the $100 they have collectively in their pockets but, though they didn't known it at the time, their luck had suddenly changed.
The owners of Laugh-In, Donald Tarlton and Terry Flood, are in the early stages of building a music business empire based in Montreal. Tarlton's company, Donald K. Donald Productions, is already the city's major concert promotion company, and Flood has just opened the independent Aquarius Records label which is soon to make a major impact on the Canadian music scene. Keith Brown, the current president of the Aquarius label, is a Laugh-In employee at the time, as is Bob "Rags" Ramaglia, who later manages Corey Hart, one of the label's major success stories. It is Rags who greets APRIL WINE on that first night, takes pity on the band's plight, and billets them in a $40-a-month ski chalet in the Laurentian village of St. Sauveur while the organization tries to figure out what to do with them.
Weeks pass and then, one night, the band receives a phone call telling them that an opening has come up at Laugh-In. It is the break they have been waiting for and it is one that is not wasted. The audience loves the band's rough and ready style and, in no time, APRIL WINE has become a regular showcase attraction at the club. Their growing popularity is not lost on Tarlton or Flood, who see, in Myles Goodwyn particularly, a major creative talent and an interesting musical force developing.
By August of 1970, APRIL WINE has signed a management and record deal with Terry Flood and Aquarius, and in February of 1971, FAST TRAIN, the first single from their self-titled debut album is released. Outside the Maritimes, the song and the album get a lukewarm reception but the extensive airplay becomes the band's calling card across Canada. During the recording of the first album, some not-so-subtle changes take place within the band. Jimmy Henman has, for the most part, handled the lead vocals in APRIL WINE but, during the Bill Hill-produced sessions at RCA's 8-track recording facility in Montreal, Myles emerges as the lead vocalist and main contributor of songs. Whether secretly concerned about his diminished contribution to the group or whether he just longs for a less hectic lifestyle, prior to the recording of their sophomore album ON RECORD with New York-based producer Ralph Murphy (Harper Valley PTA), Jimmy Henman has a sudden craving for higher education and decides to go back to university.
Henman's replacement is bass player Jimmy Clench from the Montreal band Coven who has been part of that small musical community in St. Sauver that APRIL WINE had populated when they first arrived from the east coast.
Prior to the recording of "ON RECORD", producer Murphy spent some time in England and, while there, heard a single that had become a moderate hit for the group Hot Chocolate in the spring of 1971. The song, YOU COULD HAVE BEEN A LADY, becomes APRIL WINE's first single off their "ON RECORD" album as the group continues to play the bar circuit in Ontario and Quebec.
Surly and discouraged by the lack of response the single receives in Canada when it is first released, the group is now openly talking about packing it in. One night, in a small club in Beauharnois, Quebec, where bands are consigned to a small space behind the bar in which to set up and play, they reach their limit. At least that's what the bartender thinks when he phones Terry Flood late that night and tells him "Hey, Terry, they don't want to know anymore - they're gonna break up. You'd better get over here right away..."
Flood arrives just in time and has some astonishing news. YOU COULD HAVE BEEN A LADY has been picked up for release in the U.S. on a label called Big Tree and it is rapidly moving up the charts. The U.S. success quickly renews Canadian interest and, by the time the single has run its course, it reaches the Top 30 of the American charts and peaks at #2 in Canada.
The album "ON RECORD" which also produces the singles BAD SIDE OF THE MOON, a cover of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song which Ralph Murphy also brought back from England, as well as the David Henman composition DROP YOUR GUNS, is, in retrospect, one of the most important records of their career. It introduces APRIL WINE to a wider audience in both Canada and the U.S., but as Myles Goodwyn recalls, they play no major concerts to support the record and, because of their inexperience and ignorance, their first big opportunity to maximize the gains made in the wake of their first recording success passed them by.
As plans for a third APRIL WINE album begin to take shape, there is turmoil inside and outside the band. Musical differences that place Goodwyn and Clench on one side of the battle line and the Henman brothers on the other begin to have a very divisive effect. Eventually David and Ritchie Henman leave, later working together in the Montreal-based bands Silver and The Dudes.
With the group now a duo, producer Ralph Murphy convinces Myles and Jimmy that they should go to England to record. He had arranged for a session drummer and booked a recording studio. Goodwyn recalls the experience: "We went to England and worked in this small basement studio where there was no air conditioning. The lady upstairs owned the apartment and after ten o'clock at night she'd be pounding on the floor and yelling "Enough with the bloody music, already!" Being musicians we'd like to go until one or two o'clock, but she was ready to shut the power off as we were just getting tuned up."
"But it was something being in England at that time. We were in the vicinity of Abbey Road studios, so there was a bit of a buzz from that but, after a week, we'd had enough. We had booked the studio for six weeks and they tried to make us stay. I remember we were on the plane and they were still trying to stop us from going."
Returning to Montreal, APRIL WINE becomes a quartet once again with the addition of drummer Jerry Mercer, who spent time on the road with Roy Buchanan and had previously been in the highly successful Montreal band Mashmakhan: and Gary Moffet from the band Pops Merrily, also from Montreal. It is August of 1973 and, on September 1, APRIL WINE makes its first public appearance with the new lineup opening for Three Dog Night and T-Tex at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
With Ralph Murphy as the producer once again, the band enters the studio to virtually rerecord the album they had begun with former members David and Ritchie Henman. The album is initially going to be titled "ELECTRIC JULES", as though it was a name, but it ends up "ELECTRIC JEWELS". The story behind the eventual name reflects the group's state of mind at that point. "We really didn't feel that we were getting anywhere and we had this love/hate relationship with the record company," says Goodwyn. "There was a line, "Electric jewels in the hands of fools", meaning they were the fools and we were the diamonds in the rough."
The cover of the "ELECTRIC JEWELS" album ia also decidedly down-beat and that mood extends to the poignant picture on the back cover of a wino slumped in a squalid alleyway in Old Montreal. The group actually happens upon him when they arrive with photographer Jacques Des Haies to shoot the cover. But there's more to the picture than meets the eye. If you look carefully, at the end of the alley, there's a young man with a dog on a leash. You can hardly make him out, but as the group discovers later, it is the man's son who has been searching for his father and, sadly, had discovered him in this wretched state. Des Haies had inadvertently captured the moment on film.
In the wake of the release of the "ELECTRIC JEWELS" album, which includes the singles LADY RUN, LADY HIDE, WEEPING WIDOW and ELECTRIC JEWELS - I'M ON FIRE FOR YOU BABY is released independently of the album- APRIL WINE crosses the length and breadth of Canada on the "Electric Adventure" tour, playing hockey arenas for the first time. The tour and the on-stage visual presentation, with its pyrotechnic displays and massive lighting show, are unprecedented for a Canadian act. Never before has a homegrown band attempted such an extended tour of one-nighters and certainly few have done it with such flair. It is something fans come to expect from APRIL WINE on subsequent tours, and as the group's popularity grows, their cross-country excursions rarely fell short of expectations in this regard.
During this period, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli of the Young Rascals express an interest in producing the group and it is decided that it's time to tackle a live album which is subsequently recorded at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax during the tour. It is released in 1974, and, as Goodwyn comments later, it serves its purpose in confirming the new personnel. For a while, the band lives in a farm house in Bossard, Quebec, with cats and dogs and marijuana plants and an old stand up piano in the corner of the living room which is destined to play a part in the next chapter of the group's career. When it comes to the ballads, Goodwyn likes to work on keyboards when he is writing rather than on a guitar and, one evening, the group records a couple of those songs on a little Sharp tape recorder that is sitting on top of the piano. I WOULDN'T WANT TO LOSE YOUR LOVE and TONITE IS A WONDERFUL TIME TO FALL IN LOVE are the songs in question, and on the very rough demo tape, you can even hear the piano's foot-pedal banging in the background.
"I was going down to New York with the tape and you can imagine what it sounded like in this executive's office on the 38th floor of a building in downtown Manhattan." laughs Myles. "But it was through that tape that APRIL WINE got their record deal with London Records in the U.S."
Dino Danelli and Gene Cornish produce both songs at Electric Ladyland studios in New York and both tracks appear on the band's next album, a project aptly titled "STAND BACK". It is a record on which virtually all the production is handled by Myles and the band and, if it is to be an experiment by the record company, the results are gratifying. It eventually becomes the first Canadian album to sell over 100,000 copies (platinum status) and the first English- language album by a Canadian artist to sell double-platinum(over 200,000 sales).
The "STAND BACK" tour, which featured a working version of the cannon pictured on the album's cover, once again takes the band to every corner of Canada to play to standing-room-only crowds who are literally blown away by the stage show each night.
"We fired that Mylar cannon off on stage during every show and often there'd be people with burning confetti in their hair for the first 15 rows," laughs Goodwyn. It was a real rigmarole. We'd roll this thing out and then someone would come out with a big, flaming torch and make the whole production of lighting the fuse. Well, you can imagine the letdown if the thing didn't go off. We had to check the cannon every night because people would throw coke bottles and things like that down the barrel and you never knew if nails and glass were going to come out or confetti."
From the outside looking in, things had never looked so rosy for the group, but behind closed doors, squabbles between band members are threatening to tear the band apart just when the success they had worked so hard for seems to be within their grasp. In the end, it is Jimmy Clench who says his "goodbyes" and heads for the Canadian west coast where he will be involved in the first incarnation of Loverboy and the join BTO in the late 70's.
Replacing Clench on bass is Steve Lang who joins the group in September of 1975 as they prepare to enter the studio to record their sixth album, "THE WHOLE WORLD'S GOIN' CRAZY".
As the follow-up to the multi-platinum "STAND BACK" album, much is expected from this latest set of APRIL WINE songs. "THE WHOLE WORLD'S GOIN' CRAZY" doesn't disappoint, and the band, who have already racked up a number of firsts in the Canadian music industry during the 70's, can now also claim to have had the first Canadian album to have garnered pre- release orders of over 100,000 copies.
Once again the band prepares to hit the road across Canada during the spring and summer of 1976 with a new group out of Vancouver by the name of Heart as opening act.
"Boffo," declares tour promoter Donald Tarlton as venues in some areas across the country begin to report record attendance figures, and the well-used calculator on his desk indicates that this tour is destined to gross close to one million dollars, another first for a Canadian band.
Once again the group spares no expense to make their stage show memorable. Given the album's unorthodox title, Myles feels that a special graphic image is needed to capture that spirit. A recurring image for Myles involves a Mad Hatter swing a small globe on the end of a watch chain, and he finally takes the idea to Bob Lemm who handles the packaging and design of their albums. Overnight, Lemm works on a drawing that turns out almost identical to the character that Myles has in mind. It becomes the icon subsequently pictured on the front cover of the album and used as a giant on-stage prop (the 16 foot papier-mâché model was transported in it's own truck) during the tour.
The album, which contains the classic Myles Goodwyn ballad LIKE A LOVER, LIKE A SONG, which is still in the group's repertoire today, features a guest appearance by Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush on the track SO BAD, and gives the group their second Top Five single in Canada with the title track. It also confirms the group's star status in their homeland. That success is sweet, but as 1976 - the year of the Montreal Olympics - comes to a close, there is a growing frustration within the group about their lack of recognition in America. Heart, who a few months earlier had opened for them on their Canadian tour, is now topping the charts with their debut album. APRIL WINE wants some of that action too.
Myles Goodwyn, now the undisputed heart and soul of APRIL WINE, decides it's time to make musical statement outside the context of the group and begins to work on a solo project he calls "GOODY TWO SHOES". It turns into a trip back in time, a nostalgic look back at his teen years and the relative innocence of adolescence. CHILD'S GARDEN is written with his father in mind and the hope that it will help explain the rebel spirit of a son who left home at 17 with an attitude and the reputation of being "a real bad kid". MAMA LAYE is out of left field and from his school days, as is the plaintive YOU WON'T DANCE WITH ME, which captures the innocence of the early-teen years in much the same way Lennon/McCartney's "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had done over a decade before.
Goodwyn is halfway through the record when it is decided that it should be an APRIL WINE record. That means, in short order, coming up with a number of songs to balance off half of what has already been recorded. Those new songs were written virtually overnight and the band's seventh album, "FOREVER FOR NOW", with its varied musical influences and its one foot in the boat and one foot on the dock approach, is released and produces a number of surprises. The title track, released as the first single, dies on the vine and causes widespread mourning until the release of YOU WON'T DANCE WITH ME. Though it peaks just short of the Top Five in Canada, it is destined to become APRIL WINE's best-selling Canadian single ever as it tops the 100,000 sales mark and the sweeps the album to platinum status in its wake.
During the winter of 1976, an intriguing call comes into the Old Montreal complex that houses the offices of both Aquarius Records and Donald K. Donald Productions fro Peter Rudge who is handling the business affairs of The Rolling Stones. On this day, Rudge mentions he's looking for an act to front the event in order to keep people off the scent that it is the Stones who are planning to do this small club date. Coincidentally, APRIL WINE was also looking for a site to record a possible live album, and their name came up in the conversation. Rudge agrees and, for the week starting February 28, 1977, APRIL WINE is booked into the El Mocambo, ostensibly to play some dates for charity and record a live album.
There's a major setback for the Stones though, as Keith Richards is busted by the RCMP after a raid on his room at the Harbour Castle Hotel and charged with possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking. But on the night of March 4, The Rolling Stones, masquerading as "the Cockroaches" are ready to play and come on after APRIL WINE's set. The night, in some ways, becomes more memorable for the scandal that ensues after Margaret Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, is spotted at the club, and later, hanging with the Stones during the course of the weekend. Nonetheless, the event is captured, in part for prosperity; on The Rolling Stones "Love You Live" set and APRIL WINE's June 1977 release "LIVE AT EL MOCAMBO".
The El Mocambo dates are also notable for APRIL WINE in that they serve to introduce a new member to the band, an addition that is further proof of their determination to put a harder edge on their sound. Guitar player/songwriter Brian Greenway had been in the last incarnation of Mashmakhan and then was in the Montreal-based group The Dudes. He is driving a forklift in warehouse when he is recruited by APRIL WINE.
As historic an event as the El Mocambo dates prove to be, it really has very little impact on the groupís career, other than being partially responsible for their appearance on a memorable July 4 concert at Buffalo's Rich Stadium with The Rolling Stones, Journey and the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
In 1977, the group is in the position once again of going in to record an album that they consider to be essential to the progression of their career. The band feels they have gotten lazy following the success of "STAND BACK" and "THE WHOLE WORLD'S GOIN' CRAZY", and are convinced that they have alienated their fans with the lack of obvious musical direction through "FOREVER FOR NOW" and the El Mocambo live album, which had been nothing more than a re-hash of some of their earlier ballads. "FIRST GLANCE" is a deliberate attempt to get back to rock n' roll. Even ballads like COMING RIGHT DOWN ON TOP OF ME and ROCK N" ROLL IS A VICIOUS GAME have an edge to them and are anything but light, bubblegum songs.
In many ways, "FIRST GLANCE" marks a new beginning for the group. They have just signed with a new label - Capitol Records in the U.S. - and this is their first studio album with newest member Greenway on guitar, though he arrives halfway through the recording sessions.
The band changes studios mid-stream during the recording of the album, starting at Studio Tempo in Montreal and then moving to Le Studio in Morin Heights, just north of Montreal in the Laurentians. They enjoy the new studio so much during the mixing process that it is decided to record some new songs, including the Brian Greenway composition RIGHT DOWN TO IT, which makes the final cut.
The first single from "FIRST GLANCE" is ROCK N" ROLL IS A VICIOUS GAME, and though it is not intended as the self- pitying "rock n" roll sucks" diatribe that some critics suggest, you'd have to forgive some observers for believing that there is at least a trace of sour grapes tinting this vintage of APRIL WINE. The album is nicknamed "Last Chance" as they sense the opportunities for making a dent with audiences in the U.S. are quickly passing them by. Six months go by, and though the group sets out once more on a major cross-Canada tour, replete with Pink Floyd's light, sound and effects system, they have yet to tour the U.S., and that is beginning to seem like a fading possibility as the reaction to the record in America is muted to say the least.
And then the magic happens - that magic that only occurs when all hope seems lost and "despair" comes to mean more than the extra tire in the trunk of your car. The first spark of U.S interest comes out of Flint, Michigan, where a persistent Capitol Records promotion rep by the name of Mike Diamond, who is really hot on the Roller track from the album, is dogging the stations in his area in an attempt to get some airplay on the song. Finally, radio station WTTK in Flint airs it one evening and the phones light up. It simply spreads from there as other stations see the record climb WTTK's chart to the number one position and begin airing it themselves. The public takes over from there.
By the summer of 1979, APRIL WINE is touring America in the company of such acts as Rush, Styx, Journey, Foreigner, The Tubes and Squeeze and even fly into San Francisco to shoot videos for ROLLER, ROCK N' ROLL IS A VICIOUS GAME and HOT ON THE WHEELS OF LOVE, two years before MTV had hit the airwaves and video was a necessity.
ROLLER ultimately hits the Top 40 on the U.S. charts and "FIRST GLANCE" becomes the group's first U.S. gold album for sales in excess of 500,000 copies.
In June of 1979, Aquarius Records releases a "Greatest Hits" package of APRIL WINE material as it closes the door on one era of the group's career and anticipates the group's international success given its auspicious start into this new epoch.
It is a more relaxed and upbeat APRIL WINE who return to Le Studio in Morin Heights to begin the recording of their next album. Determined to keep the hammer down and stay true to the harder rock sound that has broaden their audience beyond their homeland, Myles decides this time around to collaborate on the production of the album with Le Studio head engineer Nick Blagona who has worked in the past with such acts as Queen, Jimi Hendrix and Steve Winwood at London's Trident studios.
The resulting album is dubbed "HARDER...FASTER", and yes, the title reflects the band's attitude toward the music on the album, but the inspiration comes to Myles out of the blue - a blue movie to be exact.
Just beyond the door to the studio control room, there is a lounge that most days had a never-ending run of X-rated movies playing on the TV set. One day, as Myles emerges from the studio, he finds some of the band members watching the Marilyn Chambers film "Behind The Green Door". Now, nobody would ever accuse Chambers of being unenthusiastic in her work, and at this point on the screen she is gasping "harder...faster, harder...faster over and over again. Everyone's laughing to bust a gut and the group decides it would be a great idea to take her voice and insert it into the flourish at the end of the track 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN, the King Crimson classic that APRIL WINE has rearranged for three guitars. If you listen carefully, Marilyn pants there still.
"HARDER...FASTER" extends the band's popularity to Europe as the track I LIKE TO ROCK becomes somewhat of an anthem for concert goers and their first charted single in the U.K. In Canada, SAY HELLO has an unprecedented seven month run on the charts. The touring has taken on international dimensions now and they soon learn what an adventure that can be as the band's acceptance grows in the U.S. and Europe, where the demand is growing for the band as a headline act. In England, where critics have been mistakenly sold on the fact that APRIL WINE is Canada's answer to Motorhead, they get turned slowly on the spit as they show up to play a heavy metal festival. Matters only get worse as Myles tries to explain the situation to the press and they misconstrue some of his comments to mean that England is less than a major priority for the band at this moment. Predictably, they don't hear the end of it from the wags in the British music press.
Nonetheless, it is here, at La Manoir Studios, near Cambridge, that the group begins recording their next album., "NATURE OF THE BEAST", with Myles' new co-producer Mike Stone, who has just come off a number one album with Asia.
Released in January of 1981, the first single from the album is a straight ahead love song titled JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME which Myles claims he wrote in an hour. It is destined to become the band's biggest single in America and it eventually helps the album attain platinum status for sales in excess of one million copies. Though APRIL WINE still finds the U.K. a tough sell for touring, the demand for the band has never been higher in Canada, the U.S.(particularly in the South), Germany and Holland. The touring schedule has become grueling, and for Myles, who also has the responsibility for writing the songs, producing, and subsequently promoting the group upon the release of the records, it is time for a well-earned break.
When the group reconvenes at Le Studio in Morin Heights to begin the recording process, once again with Mike Stone co- producing, it is a mellower bunch who strap on their guitars and raise the drumsticks. Family life for a number of the group members has become a higher priority as the wives of Myles, Steve and Jerry all give birth during the making of "POWER PLAY".
The songs from this period reflect the band's more laid-back attitude as songs like Lennon/McCartney's TELL ME WHY and Myles' WHAT IF WE FALL IN LOVE vie for attention with tunes like DOIN' IT RIGHT, a cover of the Powder Blues Band's Canadian hit, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and even the old country and western nugget IF YOU SEE KAYE. It is an album of fine musical moments but little continuity, and though the record can hardly be described as a stiff sales-wise, it certainly causes a lurch in APRIL WINE's forward momentum, as does the recession that hits the concert market in 1982 as they come off an 18-month hiatus from the road.
At that point, the wheels are starting to shake a bit as they enter the studio to record "ANIMAL GRACE" with Myles and Mike Stone in the production chairs once again. The recording becomes a long and drawn-out process as it becomes obvious that APRIL WINE's days as a band in the current configuration are numbered. Out of the sessions emerges one song, THIS COULD BE THE RIGHT ONE, that everyone touts as a certain hit. It is the winter of 1983 and the video revolution is in full force. APRIL WINE are no strangers to the process. Every one of the songs on the "POWER PLAY" album has a video, but this non-stop 25-hour shoot on the Guggenheim Estate on Long Island in the teeth of winter is something else. Myles recalls that he had asked someone the story line and received the mumbled reply, "Uh...you know...cowboys, spaceships, Jerry dressed up as a Jedi knight. You'll love it!"
Initially, THIS COULD BE THE RIGHT looks like it might meet everyone's expectations. It hits the charts hard and fast for the first three weeks and then, to everyone's surprise, it drops like a stone.
The disillusionment among group members is palpable, and when Myles moves with his family to Nassau in the Bahamas during this period, it is obvious that another era in APRIL WINE's career has come to a close.
The group reunites for a well-attended farewell tour of Canada and plays itís last show with this line-up on July 31, 1984, at the Kokanee Bowl in Kelowna, B.C. Several dates on the tour were recorded and released as the live album "ONE FOR THE ROAD" in 1985. "We realized it was over and that we were doing our last tour together," reflects Myles. "ONE FOR THE ROAD" was the last record of that period and definitely the best live album from APRIL WINE from the best show. I can still play that album and have no bad feelings. Socially it wasn't happening, but each guy was doing his own thing real well, maybe because it was the last time. That was what we had in common at that point. We knew it was over. I was in the Bahamas and everybody else was in Montreal. It was a great way to close off that era because it was a great record."
The live album was, in fact, not to be the last record from APRIL WINE during that period. The band was finished but under contractual agreement, they still owed Capitol Records one more record. Myles calls Brian Greenway, who subsequently flies down to Nassau where they record the album at Compass Point Studios with Montreal session musicians Daniel Barbe on keyboards, Jean Pellerin on bass, and Marty Simon on drums. Produced by Myles and Lance Quinn, the album "WALKING THROUGH FIRE" produces the singles ROCK MYSELF TO SLEEP, written by Kimberly Rew and Vince de la Cruz of Katrina and the Waves, and the Myles Goodwyn ballad LOVE HAS REMEMBERED ME.
Myles subsequently releases a solo album, co-produced with Lance Quinn, though Aquarius Records in Canada and Atlantic in the U.S. in 1988 as he continues to live in the Caribbean. But, in the same year, Myles makes the decision to move back to Montreal and start working on another solo album. It is project that he does not finish as, suddenly, Myles finds himself receiving phone calls from as far afield as Los Angeles inquiring about the possibility of a new APRIL WINE album. The demand is there and, as Myles is already in touch with a number of the former members of the band, there is more frequent talk of a reunion.
Bass player Jim Clench, who has been living in Calgary, has moved back to Montreal and is enthusiastic. Brian Greenway, who had a solo album titled "Serious Business" released on Atlantic Records in 1988 and is in Montreal at the time playing the bar circuit with his band, says he's in. Drummer Jerry Mercer, who has been playing in a local Montreal group The Buzz Band since the breakup of APRIL WINE, also says he's ready to get back on the road with some old friends. Gary Moffet, who is fully committed to his record production business, is unable to join, and an invitation is extended to local guitarist Steve Segal. He accepts.
Shortly after the group's reformation, it becomes obvious that this new APRIL WINE era is not to be just for old timeís sake. Heading out on a tour of Canada, the group is gratified to find that the fans are still there as they not only fill the clubs, but theatres and concert venues as well. Boistered by the overwhelming show of support, in late 1992 the group entered the studio to record a new album in anticipation of a spring 1993 release. It would be the band's 16th album and the one destined to carry APRIL WINE into its 25th anniversary year.