A Foot In Coldwater - Frank Davies

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A Foot In Coldwater - Frank Davies

Postby Leask » Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:01 pm

The Roots of Canadian Rock 1970 - 1982

Daffodil Records Bio


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The independently released NUCLEUS tape made it’s way onto CHUM FM, the biggest progressive rock station in Canada at the time. The exposure caught the ear of Frank Davies of Daffodil Records who immediately signed them onto the label. It was Frank Davies who concocted the now famous name for the band: A FOOT IN COLDWATER.

Winnipeg Free Press - August 19, 1972

Contracts were signed in short order and then began the search for a new name. Frank Davies came up with A Foot In Coldwater.

“It was quite remarkable really,” Davies allowed. “I’d been speaking to someone on the phone about his recent success and he said that the company was hotter than a foot in cold water. The following week, driving through North Ontario, we came upon a little town called Coldwater, and that clinched it.”

A Foot In Coldwater

‘Foot’ hold a very special place in the heart of many rock music fans of the 70s and beyond, and most certainly in the history of this label.

Perhaps one of the most talented combination of individual musicians that I have ever worked with and certainly the owners of a unique sound with their combination of grand and ‘heavy’ yet superbly melodic song structures – sometimes wildly electric and sometimes acoustically sensitive – but always underpinned by the watertight rhythm section of Hughie Leggat’s inventive and rich bass and Crow’s (Danny Taylor) outstanding talents as a drummer that, in combination, were about as tight, intuitive and together as a seeing-eye dog to its owner. This rhythm core was overlayed by the majestic, inspired and unmistakeable guitar voicings and solos of ‘Otto’ (Paul Naumann)…. all wrapped with the warm, swirling and edgy tones of Hornet’s (Bob Horne) B3 and topped off by the husky, sexy but pure voice of heart-throb Alex Machin. Foot enjoyed a ‘live’ following originally made up almost entirely of biker gangs and willing young females.

I first heard the band on Larry Green’s nightly show on CHUM-FM in late 1971. Larry had the occasional feature on an emerging local artist of note that he felt deserved attention.

Despite their youth, Foot’s members already had impressive music pedigrees - with Leggat, Taylor and Horne having made up ¾ of the Lords Of London, one of the big local pop groups of the era (who had a #1 single in Canada with the song “Cornflakes & Ice Cream” in 1967) - and thereafter, likely in reaction to that hit ‘commercial’ status, the very adventurous Nucleus.

At the time of Larry’s show Foot was still called Nucleus but had added to that core lineup of Taylor, Horne, and Leggat with the addition of guitarist Naumann and vocalist Machin from the band Leather (which in turn had been produced by Felix Pappalardi a founding member of Mountain, and the producer of Cream). Nucleus themselves had been signed to Bob Shad’s Mainstream label in New York and had its debut album produced by none other than legendary producer Phil Ramone. While Nucleus and its album had attracted a lot of great press and fan reverence, its music was highly progressive and was not that ‘commercially’ accessible with its somewhat freeform jazz-rock fusion.

Anyway, Nucleus with Machin/Naumann aboard had done some demos of new material financed in part by a CHUM-AM DJ called Johnny Mitchell and it was these that Larry was playing on his show that night I was listening. The tracks included ‘Dream On” and “Heartbreaker” just as you hear them here – released commercially for the very first time. I called Larry immediately, hooked up with Mitchell and his partner Shelley Saffran on November 19th 1971, got a copy of the demos to listen to further, and then being satisfied that the band still sounded as good on tape as I had heard them that night on the radio, I arranged to meet the group at the home of one of its members.

The band was set up in the basement of this bungalow in Scarborough and were somewhat intimidating at that first meeting. They looked tough and lean, had a young, intense ‘biker’ vibe to them but were generally a good-looking bunch (given how most rock musicians looked back then). They were quite demanding with all their questions of me and what my interest was in them. I got the impression that I was the one being auditioned and interviewed for the job, not the other way round – but such was their way I was later to learn. Their suspicious nature had been inherited from some less than straight-up relationships in their collective past and a tough journey along their rock’n’roll highway. Most recently that had included living together in the country north of Toronto at, or below, starvation level and freezing point.

The moment they started playing for me it was obvious that the demos were just the very tip of the iceberg. Certainly one of the tightest group of players I have ever heard or encountered - never treading on the musical toes of each other, always complementing each others parts, and with the musical and fluid dynamics that were born of natural instinct and ability – something that could not be taught, or bought, or learned, and which belongs to a very rare and select group of those that strive for a career in this tough business of music.

As I later learned, the biker connections gave Foot the street-cred it liked, and also afforded them some decent protection when they wanted it (which was not infrequent given the type of clubs and clubowners the band was playing in to survive back then). There was one gig I was at some months later at a club (then called the Embassy Tavern on Bloor Street) that things got so seriously out of hand with the biker presence that it resulted in the death of a rival gang member right in front of me – so close that the poor guy’s wounds actually shot blood all over my leather jacket. I chose the Foot gigs I attended more carefully after that disturbing night.

Only one or two of the guys regularly hung out with the bikers themselves, however, while the rest of them accepted the interest of their biker friends and involvement in the band’s life on the road, the same way we might our relatives interest in what we do in our daily lives…………….

There was one standout, obvious hit played to me at that first basement rehearsal, while the rest of the material was demonstrative of what was to come. Their playing that night was so tight, so together and so cohesive musically that it has stayed with me over this 35+ years as one of the highlights of a career inspired by great music, played by great players. I was ready to sign them then and there, and basically did so, agreeing to buy out the future rights to the demos I had heard from Mitchell, pay the outstanding studio bill for them, and sign them to the label.

The recording of the first album is highlighted by three particularly strong recollections. It was the first album engineered for me by Lee (Leo) DeCarlo, an American who had just moved to Canada and who became a very close friend (I stood up for him at his marriage to his French bride Annick, as did my wife for his). Leo went on to engineer several other Daffodil albums, and later I had him produce the Fludd At The Manor album for the label in England. After leaving Canada a few years later, Leo engineered and co-produced John Lennon’s fateful last album “Double Fantasy” in New York – and then disappeared for many years to Hawaii after a career engineering some other landmark recordings at the Record Plant in L.A.

Leo was a ‘master’ at recording guitars (electric and acoustic) as you will hear on this and the second Foot album. This was only the second album to be recorded at the terrific but now defunct Manta Sound Studios owned by Andy Hermant (we followed Jack Richardson who was producing Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels after it opened in November 1971). I went on to produce several more albums there during the 70s.

The third highlight was the inspiring ease and ability which the band demonstrated in everything they did in the studio during those sessions, and the actual feeling and reaction we all had recording and completing ”(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”. We knew it was a ‘classic’ and we held our collective breath waiting for it to come out to see how the public and media reacted. The album was also an interesting experience for me soundwise. We had problems getting the same dynamic B3 sound that Hornet got ‘live’ from these otherwise warm and lovely (but audio spectrum-confining) analogue machines, and I also started my journey of discovery in appreciating cymbals and hi-hats, having previously preferred the very dry, controlled English drum sound employed by some of the newer studios over there at the time (Trident particularly).

Crow is one of Canada’s all-time great drummers and that live percussive sound mix of cymbals and his Rogers kit was big and dynamic but symphonic and musical too – not easy to capture on tape. We continued working together on various albums after Foot split up and we got closer as the years went by to capturing the breadth of his live sound in the studio – particularly on the Leggat Brothers “Illuminations” album in the 1980s.

Foot broke through immediately with the ‘classic’ “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” which has been a staple of Canadian radio’s gold rotation for 35 years and still named by many music directors and audiences alike as one of their all-time favourite records. The guitar solo is arguably the best known in Canadian pop music history with most radio stations still preferring to play the long extended solo version. In more recent times such a hit would have spawned a multi-platinum selling album but Foot had to make do with a near gold record only – partly because it was the only single off the album (due to the other cuts being too heavy for pop radio back then) and partly due to the lack of, and variety of, Canadian media support for its homegrown artists – not, fortunately, as we experience it today. Q107 in Toronto, Canada’s leading rock FM, radio station recently included the track as one of the 500 greatest rock records ever released.

The second Foot album included an even more sonically sophisticated mix of heavy rock and majestic, melodic pop including my personal favourite and possibly the track I spent more time and effort completing than any other single song (or album for that matter), in the label’s history – “(Isn’t Love Unkind) In My Life”. Like ‘Make Me Do’ I never tire of listening to this track and I am incredibly proud of it even if, relatively successful as it was, it never achieved the reach and prominence of Make Me Do. Again, I strongly feel that with the Media promotion and marketing push that would have been accorded a similar level group today, this track would have catapulted Foot into the big leagues. As it was, it became a top 10 single in most parts of Canada and was released by the prestigious Island Records in England, but unfortunately never even made it out as a single release in the U.S - for reasons I will touch upon later. While the lyrics might have been considered a little obtuse for pop radio back then, the music was all-embracing and undeniable with another trademark Naumann solo to top it off.

The album also contained the Hughie Leggat ballad “Love is coming” that Alex graciously allowed Hughie to sing lead on, and which became another top 10 single for the group in many parts of Canada. That song also contained yet another Naumann gem of a guitar solo in that soaring, sweeping, patented style of his - as well as French horns, acoustic bass, and sweeping orchestration by Doug Riley, Naumann and myself (featuring members of the TSO).

Alex countered Hughie’s plaintiff song and sensitive vocal with the ultimate Foot answer song “Coming is love” on the same album – probably the heaviest track Foot ever recorded, along with Hughie’s song “How Much Can You Take” with its huge and monstrous bass guitar sound!

Not included in this boxset (but of course featured in the second Foot album released on CD by this label) but deserving particular mention is “Sailing Ships” a song that further added to that trademark Foot sound of electric, orchestral, melodic rock and again featuring a magnificent soaring sole by Otto.

When I signed Foot to Elektra Asylum in New York for the world outside Canada and Australasia - after they had been seen by one of Elektra’s A&R people (Ann Purtill) performing on Kenny Rogers’ shot-in-Canada TV show “Rollin’” on August 2nd and 3rd 1972 – we all felt their time had come internationally.

The legendary Jac Holzman, a great music man, signed them. Armed with a serious production budget, we chose John Anthony (Queen, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator, etc) to produce their third album. John was one of that elite group of great engineer/producers that came out of the Trident Studios in England that included Roy Thomas Baker and Gus Dudgeon. Elektra wanted John to remake “Make Me Do Anything You Want” as well as a couple of other cuts off the first two albums, including “In My Life”. John did a particularly great job with the overall sounds of the band (particularly organ and drums and vocals) but with the remakes, it is (and was) almost impossible to “go back” and try to reproduce that kind of magic twice.

John’s production of ‘Make Me Do’ is not included in this set – but is available on CD as part of Foot’s third album re-release on Unidisc. Unfortunately the new ‘Make Me Do’ did not become a hit in the U.S, though it did do really well for a second time in less than three years in Canada - but not at the same level as the original. The reasons for this were largely due to the shortened guitar solo and outro fade, and the lack of any orchestration, in my opinion. John ended up using the original “In My Life” I had produced but remixing it. Again that version is not included here largely because it was shortened and did not feature all the aspects of the song that the group had originally created. John’s production of the first single (“I know what you need”) from the “All Around Us” album is here however, as is the wonderfully powerful and tight “Its only love” - my favourite cut on the album. Both were beautiful-sounding tracks and displayed that unique ‘big’ transparent ‘Trident’ sound that artists like Queen and Elton John made famous back then.

We introduced the album in Canada and announced their first national tour of the country from coast-to-coast to the press by taking over centre ice and the arena at Maple Leaf Gardens on May 14th 1975, courtesy of Bill Ballard and his father, Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold. We sent Mr Ballard ten dozen Daffodils as a thank-you. The group entered the rink on a flotilla of Harley-Davidsons with some of their ‘friends’ from the Para-Dice Riders who are actually celebrated with the incredibly powerful self-titled closing track from the album.

After just one single release in the U.S, the proverbial s—t hit the wall in Foot’s bid to conquer America – Holzman left Elektra. He had been elevated to a senior executive position at Warner’s parent company and David Geffen stepped in to take his place. Foot was dropped shortly thereafter.

We recorded one more single (“Midnight Lady”) produced by ex-Richie Knight and the Mid-Knights band member George Semkiw, who had built a fine engineer/producer career in Canada since having his own #1 in 1963 with this band the Mid-Knights.

Foot were trying to commercialise their sound to fit what they saw as the public’s then current craze for dance rock music and while the single did quite well and the playing was terrific, it did not have their indelible ‘footprint’ on it. Shortly thereafter the band signed to their new manager Ray Danniells’ label, Anthem, and made one more self-produced and excellent album (“Breaking Through”) with several of the cuts capturing that unique sound of theirs.

Sadly, the ups and downs of their life in the fast lane, while waiting for the big break that never came, eventually caught up with them. Hornet had already left the band to go live in the U.S before the Breaking Through album, and Hughie Leggat, a gifted songwriter, now wanted to strike out on his own musically with his guitar-playing brother Gord. The group split – and Naumann also moved to the U.S where he still lives today - continuing to record his own music down there ever since. Alex formed the band Champion signing with Solid Gold Records and recording one album for them before that label went out of business.

The Leggat brothers and I continued working together on both a writer/publisher and producer basis for many years – first under the name Private Eye which group I signed to Capitol in L.A under a production deal I had with them (their first album produced by Eddie Leonetti and their second, shelved album, by Rick Hall at his Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama); and then as Leggat - also with Capitol. Hughie and I produced the Leggat double album “Illuminations” which is a personal favourite to this day and an album I consider a high point of my production career. Both groups were managed by my Daffodil partners - Michael Cohl, the Rolling Stones promoter extraordinaire, and Bill Ballard. The Crow continued to play with Hughie in both bands – they were inseparable musically (joined at the foot, so to speak) – and in the process further solidified their reputation as one of the finest rhythm sections Canada has ever produced.

A Foot In Coldwater were for me, and perhaps many others too, far and away the best rock group I have ever heard that did not make it really ‘big’; and their music still sounds as striking and inspiring to me today as it did then.



Frank Davies - credits as Record Producer

CROWBAR, "Bad Manors" (1970), DAFFODIL/Paramount *Includes the hit single and very first “CanCon” recording – “Oh What A Feeling” released on the day of the introduction of the CRTC regulations in 1971.
CROWBAR, "Larger Than Life" (1971), DAFFODIL/Paramount
CROWBAR, "Heavy Duty" (1972), DAFFODIL/Paramount
CROWBAR, "Crowbar Classics (Best of)" (1972), DAFFODIL
CROWBAR, "Live at the Whiskey A Go Go" (1996), UNIDISC (originally recorded 1971)
KING BISCUIT BOY, "Official Music" (1970), DAFFODIL/Paramount
KING BISCUIT BOY, "Gooduns" (1971), DAFFODIL/Paramount
KING BISCUIT BOY, "Badly Bent (Best of)" (1971), DAFFODIL
A FOOT IN COLDWATER, "A Foot In Coldwater" (1972), DAFFODIL
A FOOT IN COLDWATER, "The Second Foot" (1973), DAFFODIL/Island ("In My Life" single)
A FOOT IN COLDWATER, "All Around Us" + (1974), DAFFODIL/Elektra
A FOOT IN COLDWATER, "Footprints (Vol.1 / 2 – Best Of)" (1983), DAFFODIL
CHRISTMAS, "Heritage" (1971), DAFFODIL
CHRISTMAS, "Live at Massey Hall" (1990), UNIDISC/ Bootleg (originally recorded 1971)
TOM COCHRANE, "Hang on to your Resistance" + (1974), DAFFODIL/Capitol
JOE PROBST, "The Lion and the Lady" (1973), DAFFODIL
DILLINGER, "Don't Lie to the Band" (1976), DAFFODIL
THE HUGGETT FAMILY, "The Streets of London" + (1975), DAFFODIL(Single)
TORONTO, SOLID GOLD (Remix) (1984)
THE PUKKA ORCHESTRA, "Listen to the Radio" SOLID GOLD (Remix) (1984)
SURRENDER, "Find Your Way" + (1980), CAPITOL (Single)
LEGGAT (BROTHERS), "Illuminations" + (1982), CAPITOL
+ indicates Co-Producer

Frank Davies - credits as Executive Producer


THE RANKIN FAMILY, "These are the Moments" (2009), MAPLE MUSIC/UNIVERSAL
SERENA RYDER, "If your memory serves you well" (2006), EMI
KLAATU, "Sunset" (boxset) (2005), BULLSEYE
VARIOUS ARTISTS, '11:11 - "Newfoundland Women Sing Songs of Ron & Connie Hynes" (1997), TMP - The Music Publisher
JOHN CODY, "Zelig Belmondo" (1993), DUKE ST/MCA
RON HYNES, "Cryers Paradise"** (1993), CAPITOL
EXCHANGE, "Beyond Words (Best Of)" (1993), MESA
EXCHANGE, "Exchange" (1992), MESA
EXCHANGE, "Between Places" (1990), MESA
EXCHANGE, "Into the Night" (1988), MESA/PASSPORT
BAMBOO, ** (1985), CAPITOL

** indicates Co-Executive Producer

Frank Davies - credits as Personal Manager


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Re: Frank Davies

Postby JPJ » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:04 pm

This legend needs to tell us a few stories from the studio as he was involved in all the recording sessions of FICW.
Where are you man???
Posts: 334
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:15 pm
Location: London , On

Re: Frank Davies

Postby Leask » Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:24 pm

2014 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award Recipient

TORONTO (December 11, 2013) — The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) is pleased to announce Frank Davies as the recipient of the 2014 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. Davies will be honoured at the 2014 JUNO Gala Dinner & Awards on Saturday, March 29 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Throughout his four-decade career in Canada, Davies has been an integral supporter of the country’s artists, leading multiple organizations dedicated to producing, distributing, promoting, publishing and honouring Canadian music. Davies has been a major contributor to the growth of Canada’s music industry and its creative community. He is credited with discovering and developing the careers of many celebrated artists’ and songwriters, including A Foot In Coldwater, Crowbar, Klaatu, Tom Cochrane and Serena Ryder, while also publishing the career catalogues of Honeymoon Suite, Murray McLauchlan and Ron Hynes.

“Being able to contribute to the dramatic growth experienced by this industry over the past 40 years plus has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Frank Davies. “To witness Canadian songwriters and artists taking their rightful place amongst the world’s elite over this period has been particularly gratifying. I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition from my peers.”

“Frank Davies has been an integral part of the Canadian music industry for more than four decades,” says Melanie Berry, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards. “He has played many roles throughout his career, all out of his tremendous passion for the industry. His dedication to Canadian artists is something to be truly admired.”

Born in Northampton, England, Davies began his musical career path in 1964 as a French correspondent to Billboard Magazine. In the mid-to-late 60’s, he worked in the U.K. for EMI Records and Liberty Records, cultivating the expertise that would serve him well on Canadian soil.

On moving to Canada in 1970, Davies co-founded the indie record label Daffodil, which became the first Canadian label to sign a distribution deal with a major (Capitol/EMI). As a record producer, among the hits he produced for the label was the first CanCon single ever released — Crowbar’s “Oh What A Feeling” in 1971. In 1978, he formed Partisan Music, the first Canadian production company to sign an exclusive deal with U.S. record company (Capitol) to develop talent for the label worldwide.

In 1982, Davies became President of ATV Music (Canada), the Beatles publisher. At ATV, he developed the careers of the like of songwriter/producers Eddie Schwartz and David Tyson, and artists Chilliwack and the Pukka Orchestra. Davies’ innovative style of funding artist development and production, alongside his now main focus of music publishing, helped realize a broad spectrum of uses for the new and existing copyrights, and created an approach he has continued to employ throughout his career.

In 1986, after Michael Jackson’s purchase of ATV, Davies formed The Music Publisher (TMP) and built it into Canada’s largest and most successful independent music publisher over the next 14 years. TMP’s many songwriter signings included Alfie Zappacosta, Dean McTaggart, Ian Thomas, Jane Siberry, John Capek and Sherry Kean.

Later in 1998, Davies founded the non-profit Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame/le panthéon des auteurs et compositeurs canadiens (CSHF/PACC). He served as its Chairman until 2004, and has remained a member of the Induction Committee since. Notable Anglophone inductees include Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Notable francophone inductees include Gilles Vigneault, Luc Plamondon and Robert Charlebois.

Davies currently heads a music industry-consulting firm, Let Me Be Frank Inc., where he has executive produced albums for the Rankin Family, Serena Ryder and the Treasures.

Let Me Be Frank Inc. is currently working on album projects for Heather Rankin, the youngest member of Cape Breton’s famous family, and songwriter/producer client David Tyson. The company also provides consulting services on various industry matters to current and former clients including Ole Media Management, Microsoft/Xbox, Re:Sound and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Davies has also served on various industry boards, including CARAS, FACTOR, CMPA, SOCAN and the CMRRA.

Walt Grealis Special Achievment Recipient Frank Davies 2014 JUno Awards MTS centre Winnipeg March 30 2014.jpg
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- See more at: http://junoawards.ca/2014-walt-grealis- ... syCug.dpuf
Chris B
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:19 pm

Re: AFIC - Frank Davies

Postby Chris B » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:46 am

Thank you for posting that.
Definitely the most informative and perceptive article I have ever read on A Foot In Coldwater.
Frank's understanding of the band is extremely deep and perceptive.
Some really interesting information on the Electra years, a shame about the change of management at Electra, interesting to ponder what could have happened had management been more discerning.!

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