Great White Noise Magazine - Jaimie Vernon
November/December 1993

It's official - the Strange Animal is dead. Gowan wants it known that the keyboard playing, costume wearing rock and roll maniac who wrote such memorable and catchy Canadian faves as "Moonlight Desires", "All The Lovers In The World" and "A Criminal Mind" has hung up the bone and synthesizer to dry. His newest release ...But You Can Call Me Larry marks the end of an era for the man people knew only as Gowan. What Larry Gowan represents now is a re-defined roots rocker who has traded in the ivories for some acoustic guitar licks.

Some may think this an odd transition for a man who was classically trained for 88 keys, but Larry Gowan assures us that guitar playing has always been his second muse dating back to his high school days when he switched between guitar and piano in three different bands (Weed Control/Jasper Licks/Great White Pig).

He fell in love with guitar all over again about two years ago while working on the new album, "I wrote `Your Stone Walls' on acoustic guitar. I picked up the instrument and something immediately clicked. All that great music I enjoyed wasn't just the Genesis and Supertramp progressive bands, but also C.C.R. and Rod Stewart. Raw guitar oriented music."

Vice president Bob Roper at Gowan's label, Anthem, was receptive to the style change and even gave the nod for long-time cohort Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel) to produce the album at Marotta's Woodstock, New York, studio. Marotta was the drummer on Larry's last three studio albums so the two had already built a bond of trust. Says Gowan, "I took down 37 songs to Woodstock and we listened to everything two or three times and I told Jerry to pick the songs he felt were the best for the album."

...But You Can Call Me Larry features some hot guitar work from other notable string benders including Red Rider's Ken Greer (whom Gowan feels "evokes the open prairie") on slide, Robert Fripp, Colin Linden, and songwriter Eddie Schwartz. "That's all Eddie on the single `When There's Time (For Love)'. That little opening lick is all Eddie [Gowan plucks the clever little riff on his acoustic]. I had to get him to teach me how to play it. Eddie and J.D. (Souther) had the fragment of the verses and a bit of melody. Eddie played it for me and I went away and wrote some words. We demoed the song and sent it down to Souther [in the U.S.]. He called Eddie back and said `Don't change a thing -- it's perfect. I wrote that song with somebody who I never even met."

Gowan also collaborated with Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams/Scorpions/Prism) on some of the more rock oriented tunes like "Innocent" and "(In The) Wild Summer Night". Larry slips in many of his own introspective compositions with the likes of "Dancing On My Own Ground" and the Beatles-styled "Moonchild's Psychedelic Holiday". One of the most interesting moments on the disc is a song co-written with Quebec chanteuse Annette Ducharme on "Soul's Road", a beautiful allegorical tune about love being like a road map. "Annette is very feminine, but she has an inner toughness. The balance is obvious from the verses to the choruses. The Yin to the Yang, the masculine to the feminine."

The recording is fresh and spontaneous especially with live off the floor tracks like "Last Laugh" which was done in one take. The only overdubs were added later by Jann Arden whose pure bittersweet voice is juxtaposed against Larry's husky baritone. The other duet on the record is supplied by Woodstock native John (Lovin' Spoonful) Sebastian. As all previous Gowan releases have proven, the guest artists enhance the records rather than overpower them.

Larry also uses this theory for his live shows augmenting his promotional tour duo structure beside Kenny Greer with Kim Mitchell alumnus Peter Fredette on bass and Paul DeLong (Tom Cochrane) on drums. Lost Brotherhood indeed.

   
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