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April Wine: Classic Album Set

Six-CD collection from a band in their pomp.

April Wine First Glance cover

By the time April Wine had released the first disc in this box set, 1978’s First Glance, they’d already been playing arenas in their native Canada. Their debut had appeared to relatively little fanfare, but two of the seven studio albums released before First Glance had made them platinum-selling stars at home.

First Glance and the thundering Roller would help them turn gold in the US, but it was 1979’s Harder… Faster that reverberated across the water, not least in the gentle groove of Say Hello, which channelled Billy Squier with a Toto-like backing.

However, it would be The Nature Of The Beast that would be the band’s high-water mark, with songs like the charged Sign Of The Gypsy Queen and the lighters-aloft anthem Just Between You And Me.

Power Play and 1984’s Animal Grace were always going to struggle in comparison, and both still sound like the work of a band who might have kept you from going to the bar at a Def Leppard show in the mid-80s. The sixth and final album is live at Reading (a club show, not the festival) and it’s a perfunctory enough listen, but lacks the sparkle or enduring magic of something like Beast.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.