Late weekend night and I’m at the Bojar Grill,
I got decisions to be made between lager and ale
KIM MITCHELL – Akimbo Alogo (Alert, 1984)
Some Max Webster fans were disappointed in this, Kim Mitchell’s first full-length solo album. I guess I could see why, because Akimbo Alogo is pretty straight-forward rock. There’s not a trace of that prog or experimentation that made Max Webster such a unique creature. However, those fans were too quick to judge, as this is simply a great sincere album loaded with stellar playing and hooky songs.
Akimbo Alogo(great title) still stands up on its own as Kim’s finest solo album. Back in that hazy summer of 1984 it spawned four hit videos: “Lager & Ale”, “That’s A Man”, the fantastic ballad “All We Are” and of course, the immortal “Go For Soda”. Although the album cut “Rumour Has It” is no slouch, “Lager & Ale” is one of the hardest driving tunes Kim’s done. The video was one of those great 80’s ones that was just a live performance — but then that live performance becomes so ingrained into your head, that it’s your default version!
But Kim’s always been tender too, and his excellent feel on the six string assures us that the few ballads are still memorable. There’s the hit “All We Are” (still gets airplay today!), but “Caroline” and “Called Off” are both excellent songs. “Called Off” in fact scorches with Kim’s fiery guitar work.
The only holdover from the Max days is lyricist Pye Dubois, spinning words as only he could, with humour and poetry. “All We Are” was written during the tail end of Max, but Kim knew nobody in that band could sing the high notes in the chorus. Along comes Peter Fredette, a talented musician and singer in his own right. His vocal made this song something truly special. (Live, Fredette also sings Geddy Lee’s high part in “Battle Scar” as well as “All We Are”.)
Of course, Kim’s guitar playing is among some of the best he’s ever laid down on vinyl, and that includes the Max stuff. His soloing here is vibrant and warm, loaded with feeling. Kim makes it sound easy — if only!
There’s also a minimum of synth programming going on here, compared to the albums that followed. I think Kim got a little too carried away with it on Shakin’ Like A Human Being. I’m not sure why Kim thought it was a good idea to start doing stuff like that anyway, but at this point he hadn’t gotten too carried away with it…yet. There’s a little programmed percussion in “Love Ties” and elsewhere.
I wish the CD had been digitally remastered. My vinyl sounds better than the CD. The only B-side I’m aware of is the “Syphon Remix” of “Go For Soda”.