January, 1981: April Wine Releases The Nature Of The Beast - by Scott Carr

April Wine The Nature Of The Beast Released January 1981



After a decade of releasing albums, Canada's April Wine made their commercial breakthrough with The Nature Of The Beast in January of 1981. April Wine formed in Nova Scotia in late 1969 and soon relocated to Montreal. The band signed their first record deal with Aquarius Records and released their self titled debut album in 1971. 

April Wine continued to release records and tour throughout Canada during the 70's. By 1977 lead vocalist/guitarist Myles Goodwyn was the only member that remained from the band's original lineup but the band seemed to be settling in to a stable configuration. During 1977 April Wine played a charity concert at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto opening for The Cockroaches. The Cockroaches turned out to be The Rolling Stones playing under a secret identity, but it was a fairly well known secret and the event drew a huge crowd. April Wine recorded a live record at the El Mocambo show and the Stones also recorded their set and used some of the recordings on their Love You Live record.

April Wine toured the United States for the first time in 1977, including some dates with The Rolling Stones. The band also added a third guitar player during this time which gave them a harder edge and would be the final piece to complete the band's classic line up.

1978's First Glance album was the first to feature the new three guitar version of April Wine and was the bands first significant commercial success outside of Canada. The album featured the FM rock radio staple "Roller" which became a Top 40 hit in the US and gave the band their first gold album outside of Canada. Harder Faster followed in 1979 and featured another hit with the song "I Like To Rock" and also included a great cover of King Crimsons "21st Century Schizoid Man."  Harder Faster also went gold in the US.

With two radio hits under their belt and touring that had taken them around the globe, the time seemed right for April Wine to achieve major success. The band delivered their 9th record, The Nature Of The Beast on January 12th, 1981 and from the first note it feels like this is the one.

The Nature Of The Beast opens with "All Over Town" and "Tellin' Me Lies," two upbeat rockers that set a tone for a record that is near perfect. Up next is one of the two big hits from the record, "Sign Of The Gypsy Queen." This song is actually a cover of a song released in 1972 by a Canadian singer/songwriter named Lorence Hud. April Wine gave the song an overhaul and made it completely their own and it became a huge hit on radio and MTV.  I remember seeing the video on MTV almost every time I turned on the TV. This was the very early days of MTV and most of the videos at that time were live performance videos, which was the case with the videos taken from The Nature Of The Beast.

Next was the album's biggest hit, the power ballad "Just Between You and Me." The song has all the signatures of a great power ballad ....a delicate vocal, catchy chorus, a blistering lead guitar and for good measure one line sung in French. This song also received heavy play on MTV and was the band's highest charting single, hitting No. 21 on the Billboard singles chart. "Just Between You and Me" could be compared to REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You" but I think April Wine would win the battle of the power ballads.

The rest of the album is nothing but wall to wall ROCK! The real star of this record is the guitar. This is a guitar record - or better yet - a three-guitar-attack record. Highlights include "Crash and Burn," "Future Tense," "Wanna Rock," "Big City Girls" and "One More Time". 

The Nature Of The Beast was recorded in England in 1980 just after the band finished up a tour of the UK and made an appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival. The album was co - produced by Mike Stone, who had worked extensively with Queen and had also mixed Paul Stanley's 1978 Kiss solo album. Stone managed to capture April Wine's live energy and helped them construct an album that still sounds great 37 years later.

The Nature Of The Beast is one of those records were everything seemed to go right: it sounds great, the performances are amazing and all the songs are winners. I have a short list of other records that also fall into that "everything seemed to go right" category: REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity, Billy Squier's Don't Say No, Blue Oyster Cult's Fire Of Unknown Origin and a few others. Not saying they are the most important records ever made but if I am having one of those days were it seems like there is nothing to listen to, I can pop on one of those records and think, "Yeah, this is a great record!"

The Nature Of The Beast is a GREAT record!

Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH  bands Radio Tramps andReturning April.  Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.