ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 22, 1990
By Steve Newton
Lawrence Gowan has one heck of an ear when it comes to creating melodies. His forte is coming up with infectious, hummable little lines like the ones that snake through his 1985 hit “Criminal Mind” and his recent single, “All the Lovers in the World”. From the natural sound of the end result, you might think those melodies come to Gowan easily, in a flash.
“Probably in a flash after working like crazy eight hours a day for a couple of weeks,” says the Toronto singer/songwriter. “Then suddenly you’ll hit on a chord combination or a series of words that have a life of their own. You always end up wondering where that came from, but I think it’s all of that preparation helping to open the funny door in your mind that’s slammed shut most of the time. And when that does happen, get the tape recorder on quick!”
Gowan must have kept his finger near the record button a lot while making his latest album, Lost Brotherhood, a disc that abounds with catchy melodies. Fortunately for the rockers in the audience, chugging rhythms get equal time on the record, particularly on tracks like “Call It a Mission”, “The Dragon”, and “Fire It Up”.
“There are some real rockers,” he admits. “I finally got a chance to show that side of me on this record. It was the first time I made a record where I let the guitarist take a much more predominant role.”
With six-string merchants like Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Red Rider’s Kenny Greer on hand, who came blame Gowan for giving the guitars some play? Gowan has known Lifeson for several years and initially offered him one or two songs to work on. “After he finished those tunes he said, ‘Well I could do another one if you like.’ And it was the same with Kenny Greer. It was only going to be a couple of songs at first, and then they both ended up working on the majority of songs.”
Lifeson’s commitment to Rush didn’t allow him to pull up roots and travel with Gowan on the tour that brings him to the 86 Street Music Hall next Friday (November 30). But Greer will be there, along with former Coney Hatch axeman Steve Shelski, and Gowan says that he’s more than happy to have Greer—one of rock’s few pedal steel players—along for the ride.
“I’ve never seen anybody with the approach to that instrument that he has,” Gowan enthuses. “He’s such a strong musical character. Also, he takes a lot of the older songs that we’ve done and offers them all kinds of new musical possibilities; we stretch them out and explore them a lot more than we have in the past.”