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Max Webster - 'Max Webster' http://ns2.rocktopiarecords.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/6d/6c/99/2512_maxwebstermaxwebster_1343493292.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 28, 2012    
 
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This debut album contains a few gems.

Max Webster are a band who epitomise, possibly more than any other, the boundless creativity of the Canadian music scene in the 70s. The Ontario quartet that featured future solo star Kim Mitchell seemed to appear from nowhere, taking originality and quirkiness to new levels right out of the gate and being quickly picked up by Rush manager Ray Danniels. With a peculiar visual image that matched their left-field melodies and instrumentation (and no-one in the band was called Max Webster!), the gangly Mitchell was joined by bassist Mike Tilka, drummer Paul Kersey and keyboard player Terry Watkinson, with madcap lyricist Pye Dubois providing the Python-esque, seemingly nonsensical words.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Originally released in 1976 on Danniels’ own Taurus label, this flawed genius of a debut album was surprisingly varied, mixing beautiful tunes and glorious arrangements with off-the-wall rockers and superb musicianship. Even seemingly straight-forward fare like the riff-laden title track and ‘Coming Off The Moon’ would occasionally go off on musical tangents, whilst gentler moments like the poppy ‘Summer’s Up’ and the ballad ‘Summer Turning Blue’ were led away from being overly commercial by Mitchell’s a-typical vocals. Lyrically things are especially bizarre, with suitably head-scratching moments during ‘Here Among The Cats’ and ‘Only Your Nose Knows’, and with ‘Toronto Tontos’ they even out-weirded Zappa himself with some crazy musical parts and outrageously catchy phrases in both French and English. Alternatively, Watkinson’s only songwriting contribution; ‘Blowing The Blues Away’ is fairly normal, whilst the brilliant closer ‘Lily’ is a tuneful and emotional prog-rock tour-de-force with a scintillating guitar solo from Mitchell.

Produced by the band with famed Rush producer Terry Brown, ‘Max Webster’ was reissued through Ray Danniels’ newly-formed Anthem label in 1977 and eventually reached Gold status in Canada, as well as getting a US release with a different cover under the name of ‘Hangover’. The remastering from Jon Astley is excellent and Paul Suter’s detailed sleeve essay, with help from Kim Mitchell himself, gives a few interesting insights into a band I thought I knew quite a lot about. In a back catalogue that’s particularly esoteric, this debut album contains a few gems that the band would build their considerable reputation on.

Phil Ashcroft

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