April Wine at Toronto's El Mocambo ages well
Surprise shows at small clubs have been a hallmark of the Rolling Stones for years. However, billed under pseudonyms, such as the Cockroaches, the show's usually didn't remain secrets for long. Such was the case on March 4, 1977.
That's when April Wine, a Montreal-based band, shared the bill with them for two shows at the El Mocambo in Toronto, Canada, resulting in the recording and release of "April Wine: Live at the El Mocambo."
I picked it up at a record store in college, having been heavily into the music scene while pursuing a degree in radio broadcasting. I used to buy two or three albums a week.
If I hadn't rescued it from the used-record bin, it might still be there. According to the sticker that's still quite visible on the cover, I purchased it for a mere $3.00. I not only consider it a tremendous bargain, but a classic recording, as well.
The band, who would't hit it big for another four years with the release of "Nature of the Beast," featuring "Just Between
You and Me," along with "Sign of the Gypsy Queen," seized an amazing opportunity during those shows. The Stones were there to record for an upcoming live album, and they made their state-of-the-art recording equipment and top-notch engineers available to them, too.
The Stones performance appears as side three of their double-album "Love You Live."
There's also a bootleg of their entire show.
April Wines' performance was released on London Records and it sounds damn good, especially at maximum volume, but I've heard the re-release on compact disc is much better. There's also an expanded version available.
But, being a traditionalist, I prefer vinyl, not to mention the liner notes remain discernible to an aging hippie who wears bifocals. Who can read that stuff on a compact disc?
The inner sleeve contains the lyrics to each song and a special thanks to the "Cockroaches:" Mick, Ronny, Keith, Bill, Charlie, Billy, and Ollie. More commonly known as the Rolling Stones, with some special guests. At the time, April Wine consisted of Myles Goodwyn; lead vocals and guitar; Garry Moffet; guitar and vocals; Steve Lang; bass guitar and vocals; and Jerry Mercer; drums and vocals.