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POP MUSIC : Vintage Rock : Reunited April Wine Will Its Give Fans a Taste of the 1970s

April 15, 1993|BUDDY SEIGAL | Buddy Seigal is a free-lancer who writes about pop music for The Times Orange County Edition.

They're slick, they're loud, they're pretty and they're back. April Wine, Canada's foremost purveyor of '70s-style corporate rock, has regrouped after a nine-year hiatus and will play Friday night at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.

The band, formed in 1969, was an arena-packing, chart-topping attraction in Canada right up until its breakup in 1984. April Wine commanded a more limited success in the United States, but some of its songs, such as "Just Between You and Me," "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" and "Say Hello," received their share of AOR airplay here in the late '70s and early '80s. Scamless harmonies, buzzing guitars and bloated production typified the group's sound, kindred in spirit to the commercial rock of bands like Journey, Styx and Foreigner.

April Wine singer-guitarist and chief songwriter Myles Goodwyn, who moved to the Bahamas after the group dissolved, asserted during a recent phone interview that the reunion resulted from an actual demand for the band's services.

"I started getting calls from record executives in Los Angeles who felt there was a market for a new April Wine record," said the elaborately coiffed 44-year-old. "There were no plans for us to get back together at the time, but (the calls) were getting very insistent. So finally we all got together and talked and decided to do it."

That was in 1991. The band took two years to write and record "Attitude," an album scheduled to be released on Capitol later this month. From the way Goodwyn describes it, "Attitude" won't deviate much from the sound the group's fans have come to expect.

"Any given April Wine album in the past had ballads and rockers," he said. "This particular album has three rock ballads, there's a fourth that has just keyboard and voice, and the rest is just rock 'n' roll. It's always been that way. It's part of our live act, and it'll continue that way.

"But it's a heavier sounding album," he added, "because the technology is so much better than ever before. It's full of energy, and it's very powerful-sounding. It's the best record we've made--at least in terms of the sound--and we're very excited about it."

But April Wine's airbrushed, facile brand of hard rock slipped out of fashion long ago, replaced by the ominous roar of groups such as Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Soundgarden. Leather and tattoos have replaced hair spray and spandex as the uniform of the MTV generation, and April Wine runs the risk of being seen as a dinosaur by today's standards.

"Well, the Damn Yankees are out there doing well, and I'd put them in the same category as us," Goodwyn counters. "I'd put Journey in that category too. I don't think there's enough out there, and, hopefully, there's going to be an audience for it. All I know is, 90% of the places we play are full, and the new album's shipping gold in Canada."

Even when their albums sold in the millions, groups of April Wine's ilk have been downgraded by the rock press. But Goodwyn has developed a thick skin and professes to be unfazed by those who would knock his band's comeback.

"I don't have a problem" with critics, he said. "It's the nature of the animal. If you like what you do, if you enjoy writing it and playing it and there's an audience for it, then what's the problem? The critics don't buy records anyway--they get them for free."

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