18   Rock Around the World \ 'cnrrnber, 1976

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PAT TRAVERS

   

You can say whatever you want about the state of rock, where it's been, how it's growing. what's new instrumentally, but it's an incontestable fact that Rock Life began in an electric guitar, and rock guitarists have been the most closely watched group of musicians ever since. Each year confronts us, the audience, with a new series of pickers, each of whom aspires to superstar status; whether or not he achieves this desire depends to a great extent on his creativity. It's not enough to merely be able to cop licks anymore (if it ever was); the approach and feel are just as important as a bare knowledge of how to play.

One of those daring young men with his flying axe is Canadian guitarist Pat Travers. A veteran of clubs in Ottawa. and bistros in Toronto (a higher class club, you understand). Pat fled to the country of his musical inspiration, England. in 1975. While he claimed that it was musically frustrating for him in Canada.

it was also true that England continues to have the highest concentration of talented rock musicians in the world; London brought out Pat's latent possiblities, as straight off, he cut a demo tape. organized some musicians and made the rounds of the record companies.

All pretty standard stuff, in rock; musicians have been treating London like Mecca for years now, with Jimi Hendrix. Thin Lizzy, Automatic Man and many others getting their first taste of Life At The Top Of The Pops in London. Pat

Travers got a band together consisting of himself, Peter Cowling on bass, and Roy Dyke (since replaced by ex-Streetwalker Nicko) on drums, and recorded his first album. It's a refreshing look at basic power rock as delivered with taste and imagination; Pat's guitar carries each tune, but not by outdecibeling everyone else. He's learned a good sense of dynamics in the clubs of Canada; musically, he doesn't really land anywhere in particular, although

The Animals, Robin Trower, and even an occasional Johnny Wintpr-style line appear now and again. The point, here, is that Pat Travers has learned and learned well the lesson that creativity is an internal function of the musician. not an external parrotting of styles currently in vogue. Pat Travers makes music that will stand the test of time well; included on the album are three standard bar tunes, visions of times past—"Boom Boom", "Mabellene" and "Hot Rod Lincoln"—yet visions that remain real today. Pat's own material shows promise as he exhibits a confidence in writing, singing and playing that will make him the all-around performer he wants to be.

He's back to playing clubs again, but this time they're clubs like The Marquee in London, where many a band has tightened its act and lubricated its arrangements; rest assured that The Pat Travers Band will be a force to be reckoned with in 1977.

APRIL WINE

Every so often, a group rumbles down rock 'n' roll's highway that seems the quintessence of the art form: Mott the Hoople. Grin (with Nils Lofgren), Aerosmith, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Status Quo, all exhibit an affinity

for the roots of rock that puts them in a league apart.

May we now present, for the rock gourmet's tastebuds, April Wine, grown in the same spirit as the above-mentioned, (with a nice touch of

Elton John here and there), and harvested in Montreal. They've been growing into stars in Canada, but it hasn't been until their fourth album, "The Whole World's Goin' Crazy", that they were signed to London Records in America. The Montreal-based Canadian record company, Aquarius Records, had been behind April Wine from the beginning, and deserve a large part of the credit for keeping the faith with the band.

This band has worked on the road a lot, and it shows in the studio; "The Whole

World's . . ." has a physically heavy feel to it that you get at a concert, and the keyboards (especially the piano) are mixed up almost against the other instruments instead of Into their arrangements. It's a subtle difference, but it alters the entire feel of the album, injecting a concert hall pulse in the songs.

Of course, any band that sticks exclusively to heavy rockers grows ultimately into a throbbing headache; ergo, to improve the pacing of the album, several ballad-type numbers are employed to vary the pitch. It's quite a pleasant surprise to discover that April Wine can put across the slow numbers at least as good as the steamers; there's more prominence by the

keyboards of chief cook and songwriter Myles Goodwyn, and more concentration on harmonies.

In a way, too, April Wine has a knack for writing better slow tunes than hard rockers; in rock, remember, you're working with The Almighty Riff, while ballads are more open to arrangement, and April Wine, just as The Guess Who used to, make better use of their quieter tunes.

However, I begin to digress here. April Wine is, first and foremost, a rock band. who've had a lot of time on the road, and are the proud possessors of four gold (Canadian) albums. You don't earn that much gold and gross over $1 million on your last tour by putting fans to sleep.

April Wine is due to come to America in the immediate future to carry the banner of Canadian rock, just as Pat Travers is doing in London; if by any chance, someone loses interest in the band live, he'll probably get the boot from April Wine's logo/mascot—a 16 ft. Mad Hatter who taps his paw in time to the music. It's sheer lunacy, but like the man said, "The Whole World's Goin' Crazy"   

THIN LIZZY

Many people felt that 1976 was going to be Thin Lizzy's biggest year to date. Virtually unknown in America, they had become minor sensations in England and Europe. Over the last three years and three albums, the band has dug in, toured, and rock & rolled audiences into agreement of their talent. But, it was their last album, "Jailbreak," that brought their experience into perspective. An imaginative concept, brightly executed with great guitar harmonies, the album was included on many station's playlists—and their single, "The Boys are Back (in town)" was indeed a rock buoy in a sea of nauseous disco. From now on, they are a band that should be listened to. (And if Lizzy is new to you, start with "Jailbreak" and keep expecting them to improve.) Their next album could make them stars. "Johnny The Fox" is out this month.

Phil Lynott, bassist/composer/vocalist and a

founder of Thin Lizzy has garnered a great deal of attention with his vocal similarity to Hendrix and Springsteen. (Whadda team!?) But any fool could listen to tell that his style is not affected. Because of this, he feels that more serious listeners are appreciating their music, as well as younger kids who were hot-for-thesingle. His R&B drawl proves very catchy in its fluidity; the songs are more melodic now, with lotsa crunchin' dynamics for good measure.

The dual guitarists, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, are the recent additions that have made Thin Lizzy really kick-out. Scott is a very American-styled guitarist, favoring major keys, while Brian, a classically trained musician, prefers minor keys and technically complex fingerings. There are two different styles of playing involved, but there are no problems. (The duo resemble the guitar work of the early Wishbone Ash team, Andy Powell

and Ted Turner.)

Brian Downey, the other founding member of Lizzy, finds working with two guitarists a change for the better. (The original Lizzy only sported one guitarist, first Eric Bell, later Gary Moore.) He is able to create more colorful drumming without having to worry about the band's thunder. It's best displayed on slower numbers like "Fight or Fall" or "Cowboy Song."

The band works and projects as a team, with no emphasis on any particular member, although Phil tends to be the front man. As main composer and singer, his positioning becomes merely academic. But make no mistake about it, musically, Thin Lizzy is a tight, imminently successful rock band that could conquer the AM. When they return to America, get ready to rock.

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