Call it Streetheart’s `Basement Tapes’ if you will. The originally Regina based band reunited with all of it’s founding members for a brief tour in the fall of 1993 which included a series of shows at the Rolling Stone Cabaret in Winnipeg, MB. Paul Dean, who is now more well known as Loverboy’s lead guitarist and main songwriter, decided to tape that night’s performance.
Over twenty years later, a CD of that historic reunion of Loverboy’s Paul Dean, drummer Matt Frenette and bassist Ken ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve plus original Streetheart members, lead vocalist Kenny Shields, keyboardist Daryl Gutheil has finally been released. Titled `One Night One Take’, this 11-track release features 8 songs off their platinum-record debut album `Meanwhile Back In Paris’, an extended version of their Van Morrison/Them cover, “Here Comes The Night”, one track, “Losing Streak” that was recorded during the `Meanwhile Back In Paris’ sessions plus one other bonus highlight, a 10-minute version of “Mr Tall”.
“Paul has literally sat on these recordings for over 20 years,” marvelled Jeff Neill, Kenny Shields & Streetheart’s current lead guitarist and the Executive Producer of `One Night, One Take’ “I think Paul had taken a run at releasing it previously but it kind of fell by the wayside so I said to him, `let me have a go at it’. I set up the meetings, dealt with the licensing issues with Warner Music Canada while Paul did final tweaks to the mixes. Considering that Paul only had a two track recording to work with, I think he did a masterful job preparing it for release”.
Although Neill only heard of the recording after rejoining Streetheart in 2003, following an 11-year stint working with Australian superstar Jimmy Barnes, he feels the reunion gigs helped resolve any possible bad feelings which had been created when Paul was unceremoniously turfed out of the band just as their 1978 debut `Meanwhile Back In Paris’ was being certified platinum.
Dean and Frenette had played together in an Edmonton-based band called Great Canadian River Race when they heard about a band from Saskatchewan called Witness that were playing at a bar in town. Having met lead vocalist Kenny Shields, keyboardist Daryl Gutheil and bassist Ken `Spider’ Sinnaeve, Dean and Frenette joined forces, moved to Regina, changed their name to Streetheart and released `Meanwhile Back In Paris’ on Warner Music Canada’s label.
“I was in a Calgary-based band called Shama at the time and when I first heard Streetheart I know that myself along with all the other bands in the region were all looking at each other and saying, `Compared to them, we suck!”, laughed Neill. “That original Streetheart lineup had a magical chemistry. At that time, I had never seen a better band live. They were so balanced power-wise, every player was a force.”
It was a mystery then that just as the band’s debut was heading for a debut gold record, Dean was dropped from the band.
“I thought we were a great band,” noted Dean “We definitely had dynamics and communication on stage, and it took a live album to showcase that. Yeah, I was pretty distraught when I got kicked out – that was a heavy period of my life, but I got over it. I survived. And now I think I can speak for Matt (Frenette) and Spider (Sinnaeve- who joined Loverboy following the tragic death of former bassist Scott Smith), in saying it wouldn’t take much convincing for us to do a tour together one day.”
Of course Loverboy established themselves as one of Canada’s most successful recording exports with multi-million unit sales of their five studio albums plus performing in front of millions of fans during the early to mid Eighties while Streetheart’s management struggled to establish recognition outside of Canada for the band despite domestic success with tracks like “Under My Thumb”, “Here Comes The Night”, “Action” “What Kind Of Love Is This”, “Look In Your Eyes” and “Tin Soldier”.
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Neill feels that existing Streetheart fans will react positively to the extended workouts on this recording treasure while new fans will be attracted to the band’s musical craftsmanship. “You listen to their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”, which is a classic performance. The individual solos and how they work other snippets of songs into their music. Streetheart, at that time, could do that so well. They would start a song and then take it into a totally different direction.”
“Under My Thumb” pays tribute to Peggy Lee’s “Fever”, “Here Comes The Night” works in The Stones’ Beast Of Burden” whilst their 10-minute “Mr Tall” opus gives a nod to The Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
“What is great about having this recording is that Streetheart doesn’t have a lot of unreleased back catalogue” explained Neill. “There aren’t a lot of studio outtakes lying around in the vaults so it was great to have a song like “Losing Streak” from the original recording sessions as a bonus for the fans.”
Neill muses what could have happened had the original Streetheart band stayed together. “I think they could have been as important in their own right as Rush. To me, they were destined for great things and at the time, I couldn’t comprehend why they let Paul go.”
As a result, Neill feels Loverboy embodied the essence of that rough edge of Streetheart and added a bit of gloss to the mix. “Loverboy developed a distinct image, a defined product. They were definitely the real deal, commercially, but one thing the original lineup of Streetheart may have had over Loverboy was that version of Streetheart had a swagger and uniqueness about their approach to performances and their sound”.
Both Loverboy and Streetheart are continuing to tour and Neill notes there are no existing bad feelings between the two groups. “Loverboy’s current manager Jonathan Wolfson has been great about promoting this record. It’s great that Loverboy’s American fans can get a sense of where Loverboy originated from. And as for Streetheart’s fans, it gives them a little bit of back history. Something to remind them of what a great live band Streetheart used to be – and what they still are today.”