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Streetheart - 'Drugstore Dancer' / 'Dancing With Danger' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/13/e2/0a/streetheart-drugstore-dancer-67-1371083924.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 13, 2013    
 
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Two re-issues by this criminally overlooked band.

Whilst they're probably one of the lesser known Canadian bands of the 70s and 80s, Winnipeg-based Streetheart had a string of gold and platinum records in their homeland, charting with all six of their studio albums, a double live offering and a posthumous collection of outtakes, as well as numerous hit singles. However, as far as most non-Canadians are concerned their claims to fame will be that founding guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette went on to form Loverboy and a later line-up originally wrote and recorded Hardline's signature tune 'Hot Cherie' back in 1982, strangely opting not to include it on the album it was recorded for, the tune eventually surfacing on the 'Buried Treasure' outtakes album in 1984.

On the surface 'Drugstore Dancer' and 'Dancing With Danger' may seem like odd albums to re-issue from their mercurial back catalogue, but with WEA/Atlantic being notoriously awkward to deal with and subsequent label Capitol holding onto their fifth self-titled cash cow, it's albums four and six that get the Rock Candy treatment. Featuring the Mk III line-up of guitarist John Hannah and drummer Herb Ego alongside mainstays Kenny Shields (vocals), Daryl Gutheil (keyboards) and Ken 'Spider' Sinnaeve (bass), 'Drugstore Dancer' was a very upbeat rock album in reply to the more laid-back 'Quicksand Shoes' earlier in 1980, which despite winning a Canadian Juno award was felt to be far too light and not where the band were wanting to go. As a result songs like 'Go To Hell', 'Trouble', 'You're Gonna Crash' and the title-track are some of the most direct that the band ever recorded, built around gritty guitar parts, inventive keyboard fills, interesting rhythms and Shields' trademark vocal tone. In Canada Shields was a big star with a style like a higher register Rod Stewart, which fitted perfectly with Streetheart's quirky direction on this album – if you can imagine Loverboy and The Faces jamming some Cheap Trick tunes then you wouldn't be that far off. 'Drugstore Dancer' isn't their best album by any means, but catchy tunes like 'Teenage Rage', 'Sold Out' and their version of 'Tin Soldier' are positively infectious, each given extra dimensions by the amazing bass playing of 'Spider' Sinnaeve, a legend of the Canadian scene and the 'go to' guy used on many albums by artists like Helix and Lee Aaron. Spider would later go on to join Red Rider and The Guess Who and has been with his former bandmates Dean and Frenette in Loverboy since the untimely death of Scott Smith in 2000.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Skipping over the double platinum success of the 'Streetheart' album in 1982, the following year saw the band hooking up with producer Spencer Proffer around the same time he was working with his commercial breakthrough act Quiet Riot. The band had already been forced to replace guitarist John Hannah with Jeff Neill due to illness before the previous album and now it was felt that drummer Herb Ego wasn't a big enough hitter for the bombastic style they were heading in, with the band picking up Denny Carmassi's brother Billy at the end of his touring stint in Aldo Nova's band as his replacement. With Proffer's powerful approach there's no doubt that 'Dancing With Danger' is Streetheart's best produced and most mainstream album, Proffer's treatment of drums and bass giving the title track, the pacy 'You're Not The Only One' and the exuberant 'Too Hot To Stop' an almighty kick, and his sense of space benefiting Gutheil's quirky synth work, while Jeff Neill played his ass off for the second album running. A very balanced album, 'Dancing With Danger' has moments of extreme subtlety in the ballad 'Don't Let Her Leave You' and the hypnotic closer 'Have It Your Way', but in parts rocks harder than they ever did. It's certainly the better of the two albums reviewed here, even if it doesn't come close to its predecessor or their 1977 funk-rock masterpiece 'Meanwhile Back In Paris'. Unfortunately the album sold relatively poorly and the band split up soon after, re-uniting in the late 90s around Shields, Gutheil and a returning Jeff Neill, who'd spent over a decade in Australia playing with Jimmy Barnes. Dave Reynolds' sleeve essays are an interesting read and Jon Astley does a great job on the re-mastering, but with the only previously available Streetheart CD's being German vinyl rips of the first two albums, Capitol versions of 'Drugstore Dancer' and 'Streetheart' and a few all too brief compilations (the excellent 'Read All About It' double CD notwithstanding), there's plenty of scope for additional re-issues by this criminally overlooked band.

Phil Ashcroft

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