ROCK REPORT 2006
By Ross Cat.
INTERVIEW: Lawrence GOWAN…..Astonishing as it may seem,
it has been twenty-one years since the release of the award winning
album “Strange Animal” from the spirited singer/songwriter. GOWAN
spent most of the eighties dominating the Canadian music charts,
racking up numerous awards including; Album of the Year (1985,1987),
as well as receiving the prestigious Canadian Entertainer of the
Year in 1987 with the release of “Great Dirty World”.
Following his enormous success in the eighties, GOWAN along with many of
his contemporaries, would find that the nineties would take the music industry
in a whole new direction as grunge would enter the musical mainstream.
In an attempt to re-invent himself and his sound GOWAN would step back
from his piano, from which he is classically trained, and pick up the acoustic
guitar. The theatrics of the 1980’s would be supplanted by a stripped down
montage of musicians who would take the GOWAN arrangements both old and
new to a new pinnacle. Included in that mix would be the multi-talented
PETER FREDETTE, longtime bassist for KIM MITCHELL.
Over the next decade GOWAN would show great STYX-to-itiveness writing and
touring successfully worldwide. In 1997 he would reward fans with his first
greatest hits collection releasing “GOWAN, Best Of”, that disc would too
be certify Gold. Ironically enough that same year he would find himself
opening for STYX on the bands Canadian dates, leaving the band and its
faithful floored with a dazzling performance. When classic rockers STYX
were ready to embark on a comeback tour in 1999 without DENNIS DE YOUNG
they didn’t need a “Crystal Ball” to find their new band mate. Since joining
STYX in 1999 Lawrence GOWAN has added to the already potent synergy and
shown that he has what it takes to be a “Blue Collar Man”. His keyboard
prowess and vocal passion, especially on classic rock staple “Lady”, are
a perfect compliment to TOMMY SHAW and JAMES YOUNG. Looks like these are
“The Best of Times”, as 2006 finds STYX touring relentlessly, enjoying
the success of their latest release “Big Bang Theory”, a disc full of vintage
rock songs done by one of classic rocks best bands. The band is also
working on material for a brand new album of originals.
To help commemorate the “Strange Animal” anniversary GOWAN will be taking
a short break from his duties with STYX to return to the Great White North
for a series of concerts that will include shows this Wednesday and Thursday,
February 22nd and 23rd at the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario.
GOWAN will be performing the album in its entirety, along with many of
his other musical gems, accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
Ticket information can be found at www.gowan.org.
I had the pleasure to speak with Lawrence GOWAN while he was preparing
for his trip back to CANADA.
R.Cat.- Congrats on your successes past and present. You’ve been
a member of STYX for quite some now, looking back could you have ever imagined
that an opening slot for them in 1997 would lead to you becoming a permanent
part of the “STYX World”?
GOWAN- I was fortunate, it some ways I feel I was flat out lucky.
After I had opened up for the guys in Montreal they told me backstage that
they would like to work with me at some point. I clearly thought
it was going to be in some kind of support capacity, but two years down
the road I was asked if I would be interested in taking DENNIS DE YOUNG’S
place on the tour, and here we are seven years later.
R.Cat.- Did you find it difficult stepping into an established band
and replacing a longtime contributor like DENNIS DEYOUNG?
GOWAN- What really made it easy was the guys, they were comfortable
in moving in a different direction without DENNIS. That issue being set
aside meant we could focus on the tremendous chemistry that we were developing.
What most of the audiences are looking for is a great STYX concert experience
done as authentically as possible. What we have in common as professionals
is that we take great pride in delivering that to our fans. For me I really
didn’t have to change my vocal style for what the band needed, I was able
to fit into their already solid framework. I really feel very much at home
on stage being part of this large production. TOMMY SHAW tells me I was
born to be in STYX.
R.Cat.- The band climbed back in to the Billboard top 50 this past
year with the “Big Bang Theory” tell us how that record came together?
GOWAN- Yeah, that has been great fun playing to audiences and it
still has some legs to it. Really, every writing session we sit and
ask ourselves; what is the best and most stimulating thing we can put together
for ourselves and our fans? It just so happened at that time we enjoyed
jamming some of our favorite songs, it just seemed to be the right thing
to do. This past year the band has really hit its stride and we’re more
inspired then ever.
R.Cat.- Let’s get into your visit to Canada this week and talk about
the anniversary of the ‘Strange Animal” album. What can fans expect at
GOWAN- It really seems unimaginable that it has been that long since
I wrote the record. This won’t be your typical rock show, it will
be me on piano accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. I’ve found
that when working my music with an orchestra if flows better in symphonic
form. Sometimes the arrangements can get lost within a full band setting.
As you mentioned I will be doing the “Strange Animal” album in it’s entirety
along with some other musical gems throughout the night. I’m looking forward
to sharing those musical memories with some friends both old and new.
R. Cat.- Lastly, Lawrence I see on your “Best of GOWAN” disc there
is a song entitled “Healing Waters”…For Diana Queen of Hearts” tell us
GOWAN- It was actually written by myself and ALEX LIFESON of RUSH
who was working with me on my 1990 album “Lost Brotherhood”. The funny
thing is the song didn’t make the final cut; it was deemed to mellow as
the “Brotherhood” record is a bit of a rocker. The song was tucked away
in a vault for about eight years until her untimely death. The day after
the tragic accident my cousin in England had reminded me of the song and
how perfectly the lyrics reflected the feeling of the times. I really only
had to change a few lines in the song and off the single went to the U.K.
It was a great honor and I was fortunate enough to be able to perform that
song with the London Symphony for the Spencer family at the opening of
SNAKE EYES…..Heavy metal rockers WHITESNAKE are giving fans a double dose
of love with the release of “The Definitive Collection” on CD, as well
as the bands first ever concert DVD “WHITESNAKE LIVE: In the Still of the
NIGHTLIFE would like to Thank Mr. Lawrence GOWAN for his valuable time.
PEARTintent Anatomy…..While Canadian power trio RUSH is still basking in
the sweet success of there 30th Anniversary Word Tour DVD: RUSH: R30; drummer
NEIL PEART has just released his own DVD called the “ANATOMY of a drum
solo”. PEART is not only the pulse that keeps the RUSH heartbeat pounding,
he has been the principle songwriter for the band since joining GEDDY LEE
and ALEX LIFESON in 1973.
The DVD is designed for every RUSH fan and concert enthusiast, not just
the aspiring drummer or musician. Although PEART has always been the “Working
Man” behind the drums never seeking the “Limelight”, this film uncharacteristically
opens the door to his private domain both in and out of the studio. The
legendary drummer breaks down his musical techniques and talks about his
influences and inspirations taking you inside the studio of some of the
bands greatest albums and songs. Most importantly, the disc also includes
some amazing solo footage both live and in studio as PEART’s expertise
is simply mesmerizing as you watch him command the massive kit. RUSH is
keeping up with the “Spirit of Radio” as they are currently in the midst
of writing a brand new studio album with hopes to have it done by the end
of the year.
CLASS IN SESSION…..The University of Buffalo Center for the Arts continues
to carry on the standard of excellence in higher education as they host
some of music’s premier performers. Earlier this month the hallowed halls
echoed with the erupting sounds of the DEREK TRUCKS BAND. The guitar guru
was in town promoting his newest disc “Songlines” which hits stores this
Tuesday. Look out for the TRUCKS behind you DMB; this disc is already being
called the jam record of the year. TRUCKS whose also a member of the ALLMAN
BROTHERS BAND demonstrates that even without the BROTHERS behind him the
peach doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Next lesson on the schedule is the “SUPER COLOSSAL TOUR”, featuring JOE
SATRIANI with very special guest ERIC JOHNSON. These two guitar pioneers
are sure to raise the room to a fevered pitch. SATRIANI is not only a master
guitarist he is a teacher to the professionals. His G-3 guitar summit and
tours have sold millions, and he continues to take the guitar instrumental
into a new stratosphere. He is touring in support of his upcoming release
“Super Colossal”, the album contains 13 new songs and will hit stores on
When ERIC JOHNSON slings his axe he cuts to the core. He too has been a
member of the G-3 tour along with SATRIANI, STEVE VAI, and Buffalo born
BILLY SHEEHAN on bass. JOHNSON also won himself a Grammy for Best Rock
Instrumental with the song “Cliff’s of Dover”.
The show is Monday April 10th tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster
or at The Center for the Arts box office on the Amherst campus for $45,
$35, and $30 for students. Also check out Center website at www.ubcfa.org
for upcoming events.
PRESS RELEASE…..This months bonus tracks at bestofwny.com powered by the
fine folks at LK Pro.com will include, news from WHITESNAKE, as well as
some exciting reunion news from progressive rockers ASIA. Check it out
and forward to your rock and roll friends.
Both the CD and the DVD are loaded with the songs that propelled the band
to the top during the late eighties and early nineties. The eighteen song
disc is all about the love including chart topping hits such as “Here I
go Again” which reached #1 on Billboard, as well as the power ballad “Is
This Love” which slithered its way up to #2 on the charts.
While vocalist David Coverdale enjoyed his greatest success with WHITESNAKE
he also shed is skin on a few different occasions starting off his career
by fronting DEEP PURPLE from 1973 to 1976. He recorded two albums as he
stepped in for the departed Ian Gillan. The new concert DVD opens with
a rendition of the PURPLE tune “Burn”. While WHITESNAKE charmed fans with
their hair band hits and hot video’s they soon would succumb to constant
lineup changes. That would lead to an unlikely pairing in 1993 as Coverdale
would join forces with LED ZEP guitarist Jimmy Page for a record. The new
“Definitive Collection” disc also contains a track from the critically
acclaimed COVERDALE/PAGE project called “Pride and Joy”.
Meanwhile, the concert DVD was recorded from the bands 2004 tour in the
U.K. and finds Coverdale and company in fine form. The film contains a
fiery performance of all the hits, as the band spits them out like venom,
closing out the evening with “Still of the Night”, which stands tall to
this day as an arena rock anthem.
WHITESNAKE will be on the road this summer in the U.K.Fans can also catch
David Coverdale on Rockline on March 22nd.
HEAT OF THE MOMENT…..This year will mark the 25th anniversary for progressive
rock supergroup ASIA. The original line-up of all-star musicians are said
to be ready to join forces once again to help commemorate this milestone.
Although the collaboration of vocalist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe
(YES), drummer Carl Palmer (ELP) and keyboard phenom Geoff Downes was short
lived the music has stood the test of time. All four members have confirmed
via their websites that a reunion tour is being discussed along with a
new CD and concert DVD for later this year. Currently Wetton and Downes
are touring in support of their latest effort entitled “Icon”, while Steve
Howe will be doing some solo dates in May.
As for legendary powerhouse drummer Carl Palmer he is getting ready to
hit the road this spring/summer for his first ever solo tour. He will be
touring in celebration of the music of EMERSON, LAKE and PALMER with his
new power trio. The CARL PALMER BAND will include guitarist Paul Bielatowicz
and bassist Stuart Clayton and will be making its way across the U.S. and
Canada through June. This all instrumental show of the ELP classics is
sure to be one of the hottest tix of the summer. The tour will include
visits to nearby Hamilton on May 24th, and Toronto on May 26th. Check the
PALMER website for ticket information at www.carlpalmer.com,
also stayed tuned as this “Lucky Man” will be chatting with the drummer
extraordinaire prior to the Hamilton show.
NIGHTLIFE has a little ASIA appetizer for fans that can’t wait for the
reunion tour. Voiceprint Music is a company in the U.K. which offers
assorted cuts from classic rockers not available in the states along with
current rock news. One of those obscure CD’s we found at this cool site
happened to be ASIA: Live in Buffalo, a double disc from the bands first
tour in support of their smash debut album it is available for purchase