To some Canadians, the year 1969 does not seem so long ago. It was the year that saw the Montreal Expos baseball team play their first home game. Authors were busy with releases: Margaret Atwood with The Edible Woman, Timothy Findley with The Butterfly Plague, Mordecai Richler with The Street, and Farley Mowat with The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float. It was the year that saw the birth of hockey players Brendan Shanahan and Joe Sakic as well as television personality Rick Mercer. There was a riot at Sir George Williams University (which later merged with Loyola College to become Concordia) to protest racism on campus. The Montreal Stock Exchange was bombed by FLQ terrorists. Québec teachers ended their 18-month strike. Ottawa opened its National Arts Centre and passed the Official Languages Act. The Guess Who topped the charts with “These Eyes”. And a rock band formed in Halifax destined to release fifteen studio albums (including 3 Platinum and 2 Double-Platinum), enjoy over 20 Top 40 hits, and become one of the most beloved Canadian recording acts of all-time.
Brothers David and Ritchie Henman, their cousin Jim Henman, and friend Myles Goodwyn came together as a quartet. A record deal came quickly with Aquarius and they relocated to Montreal to record their first album, Goodwyn composing most of the tracks. “Fast Train” was immediately picked up by radio stations across the country and just squeaked into the Top 40, prompting Aquarius to agree to release a second album from the group. Cousin Jim left the band and was replaced by Montrealer Jim Clench. Feeling the band had tremendous potential, Aquarius summoned producer Ralph Murphy with the mission of giving them an international hit. They covered Hot Chocolate’s song “You Could Have Been a Lady” which made the Top 5 and peaked at #32 on the U.S. charts. The album went Gold which was not an easy task in the early 70s. After the record, the Henman brothers left and auditions resulted in Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet joining. Album number three hit store shelves in 1973 and spawned a couple of hits including “Lady Run, Lady Hide”. Goodwyn and Clench began hitting their stride as composers and wrote most of the album’s tracks.
For the purposes of our favourites list, we are most concerned, however, with album number four. Stand Back was released in 1975. All tracks were Goodwyn and Clench originals and the album attained double-platinum sales. The album opener “Oowatanite”, composed by Jim Clench, was, itself, covered by artists as far away as South Africa (Clout). Four tracks charted in the Canadian Top 30, two of which made the Top 5. One of these, composed by Goodwyn, is one of our favourite songs of all-time by a Canadian artist. Its long name is “Tonight Is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love“. The name of the band, of course, is April Wine.
Most interestingly, after Randy Bachman had departed from the Guess Who at their pinnacle of success to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Jim Clench left April Wine after this blockbuster album to join Bachman in his new band.
Red and yellow seasons changing gear, oh yeah
Giving her all I am, and reaching out with loving care
And you know she can feel it, oh yeah,
You know she doesn’t have to try
Going on forever, oh yeah,
Knowing that’s the reason why,
Tonight is a wonderful time to fall in love, oh yeah
Tonight is a wonderful time to fall in love,
Let’s fall in love, let’s fall in love
The two of us together, oh yeah
Doin’ things the way we do
And nothin’ seems to matter, oh no,
As long as I can be with you
And you know she can feel it,
‘Cause that’s the way she likes to fly
Goin’ on forever, oh yeah, and knowing that’s the reason why
Love is such a sweet thing, oh yeah,
It’s easy when you realize
These moments are forever, oh yeah
It’s magic and it’s in her eyes
Song: “Tonight Is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love”
Album: Stand Back
Artist: April Wine