MAX WEBSTER – High Class In Borrowed Shoes (Rock Candy Remastered)
All the early, essential Canadian Rock albums by MAX WEBSTER have been remastered by Rock Candy Records, and as requested by many of you, here’s “High Class In Borrowed Shoes”, the second Max Webster album but the band already were so tight and perfect that they got three radio classics off it. When released, any young Canadian rock fan back in the day was rocking out to this album.
Max Webster was a staple in the Canadian rock circuit at the time “High Class In Borrowed Shoes was released. A Max concert was always a packed house and front man Kim Mitchell was such an entertainer with his funky hats, orange spandex, Gibson 347 and his awkward robot moves.
The band had an early Cheap Trick vibe of stereotyping the members with bizarre clothes and not to mention the stage presence of the iconic giant blockhead from the first album cover.
“Diamonds Diamonds”, “Gravity” and the title track are all three radio staples, and “On the Road” a live classic that Kim Mitchell occasionally plays unplugged.
The album opens with the impressive title track “High Class in Borrowed Shoes”, a blaster that sounds to me like a Canadian Van Halen! Max had tamed some of their wackier tendencies (“Toronto Tontos”, anyone?) and focussed their chops.
Not that the new Max (now featuring legendary drummer Gary McCracken) was normal by any definition. Just listen to the lullaby-like “Diamonds Diamonds”. Great song, but very different for a rock band. Its dreamlike mood is heightened by the surreal lyrics by Pye Dubois.
“Gravity” would make my top five Max tracks in a heartbeat. “What do I know?… I sat under a cloud… I looked up, afraid to look down.” Kim sounds like a little boy speaking the words, to great effect. The chorus is a big one, backed by a Kim’s riffing.
Proving he has always been capable of tender ballads, “Words to Words” is one of Kim Mitchell’s first. The keyboards of Terry Watkinson keep it just a little left of center, but Kim’s acoustic work is impeccable and excellent. It’s hard to overstate just how quality this song is.
However ballads are usually best followed by scorchers, and that’s “America’s Veins”. Killer solos, smoking drums, and a chorus built for the concert stage: it’s here in one complete package.
Acoustically based, “On the Road” is more than a song that would sound good played live around a campfire, it has genuine soul that you can feel. It’s an incredible song, and once again, I wonder why Max Webster wasn’t friggin’ huge.
“Rain Child” is next in line, which I would describe as a slow burner. Terry’s keys take center stage, never intruding. “Rain Child” is a classic album track, and perfect for winding down the album.
Max Webster went mad on the last track, “In Context of the Moon”. This is the second of four “Moon” songs on the first four records. This one can’t be described easily, because it spans many styles and tempos in just five measly minutes! How?! You have to play this one a few times just to get everything that is happening. It’s certainly one of the most challenging pieces of music Max have recorded. At all times, it smokes.
Rock Candy really did a nice sound improvement on “High Class In Borrowed Shoes”. Kim’s guitar playing and the bass stand out far more than they do on the original CD releases. Hearing this again remastered for the first time was very close to hearing it the first time on vinyl… lots of details are brought out to be heard separately in all their glory.
This my friends is a job well done and if anyone out there was as impressed with this band back in the day should seriously invest in these new remasters.
01 – High Class In Borrowed Shoes
02 – Diamonds, Diamonds
03 – Gravity
04 – Words To Words
05 – America’s Veins
06 – Oh War!
07 – On The Road
08 – Rain Child
09 – In Context Of The Moon
Kim Mitchell – guitars and vocals
Mike Tilka – bass
Terry Watkinson – keyboards
Gary McCracken – drums
BUY IT !