Winnipeg Free Press
Saturday, August 19, 1972
The Rock Scene
By Ritchie Yorke
I’d been waiting for a good half-hour for the car to arrive and when it did __ sleek and gleaming late model Cadillac __the approach was noiseless.
Jim Garrett climbed out of the limousine, careful not to slam the door, and gave me a whistle. I gathered up pen and paper and ventured into the midnight air and the back seat of the limo.
I won’t deny that it was a pleasant ride downtown to Manta studios, what with the seersucker suspension and the 8-track of A Foot In Coldwater thudding into the thick upholstery.
“My God,” I thought, trying my best not to appear too relaxed, “things sure can happen fast in this business.” Not two months had elapsed since I’d last been rapping with Garrett and his group, A Foot In Coldwater, and at that time prosperous was the last word you’d have used to describe them. They were stoney broke to a man, in hock up to their whiskers –their only asset a strange conviction that their time was near.
Yet here we were wheeling down to Manta in super star style without a drag in the world. Either this group had really taken off or else the deposit figures on Caddie limousines had taken a steep dive.
In the studio, the five pairs of feet were belting on the floorboards as the group laid down some of its new songs for possible inclusion in the second Foot In Coldwater album. Garrett found me a seat among the roadies and the ladies, then disappeared, presumably to locate an un-capped ale.
“It’s a weird night,” commented the roadie next to me, surrounded by a dozen empties and a couple of packed ashtrays. “Saturday night … it’s party night man. Everyone in this band has breakfast with a case of beer every Sunday morning.” I had no reason to doubt him.
“More beer,” demanded a voice over the intercom. It was lead singer Alex Machin. The roadie got up to look, and producer Frank Davies pressed the mike button. “Alex how are you?” he inquired.
“More organ, less guitar, less vocal and more beer,” was the rapid answer, covering both the mix of the music in his earphones and the salty fried chicken taste in his mouth.
Someone made a comical comparison with Crowbar, and bass player Hughie Leggat, yelled back: “No man, we’re a little young to be another Crowbar.”
A beer finally found its way into Alex Machin’s hand, and the boys went back to work. They taped a total of eight songs, only three of which they later considered worth including on the new album. Not surprising - all the guys in the band have well – earned reputations for being intensely self-critical.
Success – which has dropped upon them so rapidly under their new name – had been an elusive lady for the past half – decade under other names. Three of them had been in the Lords of London (remember Cornflakes and Ice Cream?) while guitarist – writer Paul Naumann was a founder member of Leather, a highly rated Ontario group. There was also Nucleus and Island before the birth of A Foot In Coldwater.
“We’d been at it for quite a while,” said organist Bob Horne, “ and we’d been to see a lot of record companies. They were a joke. Finally we decided that Canada wasn’t where it’s at for a rock musician, and we made plans to emigrate to Los Angeles. We were going to leave on a Friday. We had a call from Frank Davies of Daffodil Records on the Tuesday and the results of our first meeting made us decide to stay. He was the only one who understood what the band was trying to do.”
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.”
The group went into the studios with Davies early in the spring and cut the first album. It was released at the same time as the single (Make Me Do) Anything You Want, which has since become one of the biggest Maple Music hits of 1972. The LP is one of the current top 10 sellers in Canada.
“People had said,” Bob Horne recalled, “that we should record something off the hit parade. We argued that we didn’t have to because our own music is good enough.
“It’s very nice to have a single, but a Canadian hit is not good. You just can’t make it up in Canada. I’ve been to a lot of places and I really still like Toronto the best, but you’ve got to admit that Canada is no where for rock n’ roll bands. The money here is small time. You’ve only got to look at the couple of bands earning top money in Canada - people like Crowbar and Lighthouse – and they’re only barely existing. Really, they’re having to fight to make ends meet. The market just isn’t large enough. You have no choice but to spend half your time away from Canada, and that’s what we ultimately intend to do.
“Did you hear about Three Dog Night making $125,000 for one concert in some American stadium? Wow man. $125,000! And people like the James Gang and the First Edition usually make over $10,000 per night. Nobody can tell me that Three Dog Night, the James Gang or the First Edition make better music than we do. They have their own trips, but so do we.
“So we’re going to do what they’ve done – play concerts in the U.S. We’d prefer to stay in Canada all the time, but it’s impossible. Even if you’re a booming smash overnight sensation in Canada, you still can’t make a decent living.”
Nonetheless, A Foot In Coldwater – the latest chart-rated exponents of Maple Music – are doing their best to make their surroundings a little more pleasant. A caddie limousine will do it every time. Especially when it’s been a long time coming.
Artical courtesy Kevin Julie
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