REVIEW: Max Webster – Max Webster (1976)

This one goes out to T-Rev!

MAX WEBSTER – Max Webster (1976 Anthem Records)

It is difficult to recall a better debut album than this 1976 masterpiece by the four-headed enigma known as Max Webster. Kim Mitchell (vocals/guitars), Mike Tilka (bass), Terry Watkinson (keys) and short-tenured drummer Paul Kersey, along with lyricist Pye Dubois, seemingly emerged fully-formed with this immortal classic.  Right from the feedback kicking off “Hangover”, this album feels like it was custom designed for awesome sauce.

When I first heard it, I recall finding the album artwork mildly disturbing and the music jittery and off-putting. That was first listen.  Then, Trevor bought it (and numerous others) for me for my birthday one year.  THANKS T-REV! 

It only took two more listens to appreciate this album for what it is: A paradoxically funny yet progressive masterpiece that runs the gamut from bizarre to blues to rock to country to campfire,with poetic lyrics to match. From the seemingly out-of-control “Hangover” to the mournful “Lily”, this album really does have it all.

Of note:  This album was produced with Terry Brown, who helmed many Rush classics.

Like Frank Zappa’s bastard children, Max Webster emerged from Sarnia Ontario, perplexing and rocking audiences from coast to coast. Despite the diversity in sounds and challenging arrangements, this band was not short on melody and managed to create catchy songs out of the most absurd material, such as “Toronto Tontos”.  Yet this is balanced by songs like the groovy “Here Among the Cats”.  Regardless, it’s impossible to get either song out of your head.  Mitchell’s soloing on “Here Among the Cats” is stunning, by the way. 

You can’t understate how important, groundbreaking, and fantastic this album is. Just listen to the upbeat “Blowing The Blues Away”, or “Only Your Nose Knows” for a taste of the best music that Canada has ever put up for offer.  “Summer’s Up”…”Coming Off the Moon”…not a bad song in the bunch.  I understand that there are deluxe Max editions available now. I think I might pick one up and see how they are.

I think I’ll start with Max Webster!  (Note:  Don’t tell Mrs. LeBrain, but I did order it from Amazon a few moments ago.)

5/5 stars

12 comments

  1. This band has been on my investigation list for a while so thanks for this! Loved the track you chose. A label called Rock Candy just reissued these, are those the deluxe editions you mentioned or are there different versions available over there? The Rock Candy reissues are brilliant.

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    1. They don’t offer much in the way of bonus tracks usually. They are always well remastered and the liner notes are always detailed and superb. I just get the feeling that a lot of care is taken over them. But, in particular it’s the choices that make them stand out. They pick brilliant albums to release – Montrose, Badlands, Armored Saint, Raging Slab, Plasmatics… Blackfoot stuff coming out soon. So I think I like them most in the sense of them having great taste!

      They also did the recent Thin Lizzy and UFO ones, although those weren’t released on the label.

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  2. Yeah for sure…..82 was a good year for music….Mitchells ep, Maidens Number Of The Beast,Santers Racing Time,Coney Hatchs debut……just to name a few……

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