REVIEW: Sven Gali – Sven Gali (1992)

First of a two-part series, by request of Deke!

 

SVEN GALI – Sven Gali (1992 BMG)

Sven Gali were a good band. To put this into context, in the early 90’s Canada was home to a growing hard rock scene that combined traditional metal with the harder alternative sounds that were coming out of Seattle. I Mother Earth was probably the first band to combine these sounds into one unique whole. Sven Gali were more on the rock side, but they did combine the groove and heaviness that was coming out of Seattle with hard rock. The first single “Under The Influence”, which was a hit on Much, is a great example of this.

Comparisons with forebears Skid Row were added to album cover stickers, and the talented drummer Gregg Gerson was poached from Billy Idol’s band.  (Prior to this, Steve Macgregor and Rob MacEachern occupied the drum stool.  MacEachern would later go on to play with Helix.)  While nobody in the band were slouches, singer David Wanless boasted a tough, powerful voice able to handle the heavy material, similar to someone like Johnny Solinger of Skid Row.  (I have heard that Mr. Wanless worked at Home Depot in St. Catharines after Sven Gali.)  Also notable was the late guitarist Dee Cernille, who recently lost his long battle with cancer.

Sven Gali is stacked top-heavy with standouts.  This means it tends to have a stronger side one vs. side two.  The first two songs were singles (the video hit “Under the Influence”, the helicopter whop-whop of “Tie Dyed Skies”).  Both these songs walk a fine line of heavy but singalong choruses, while maintaining its gritty 90’s-ness.

The generically titled “Sweet Little Gypsy” is a strong, Crue-like album track, but it is followed by another single, “In My Garden”.  This is a dark ballad, demonstrating the 90’s side of the band.  It too was a video hit.  “Freaks” is a hard rocker that could have been a single in my books.  I had this one early on a Sven Gali sampler cassette mailed out by M.E.A.T Magazine.  I’d be happy to show that cassette if it wasn’t packed up in a box.  Side two was finished with the excellent ballad “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.  It’s obvious that Sven Gali were going for the Extreme/Mr. Big template with this one.  There are no drums, the lyrics are sentimental, and it was designed for the female side of the hard rock fan spectrum.  But it’s still a good song, and performance.  I’d rate this one as a solid-also ran behind “More Than Words” and “To Be With You”.

SVEN_0002Side two commenced with the furiously heavy “Stiff Competition”, once again firmly planted in Van Skid Crue territory.  Far from the best song on the album, it’s certainly the heaviest, gratuitous “F-bomb” included.  “Real Thing” is pretty poor.  It’s an annoying and grating throwaway.  “Whisper in the Rain” is another ballad, this one is a little more generic than the preceding two.  And didn’t you just know it was going to be a ballad by the title?  It has a moment or two, but in general I’ve heard this kind of song done better before by Skid Row…Killer Dwarfs…Motley Crue…Guns N’ Roses…etc.

“25 Hours A Day” is back to rock.  It’s not a stinker, but aside from a good chorus, the song doesn’t stand out.  “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is back to the speedy rock sounds of “Stiff Competition” with which we began this side of the album.  If anything these two songs show off Gerson’s incredible drum chops.  Shame he left the band after this album…

Sven Gali closes with the Teenage Head cover “Disgusteen”, saving the best for last.  Frankie Venom himself (R.I.P., cancer again) performs the exorcism scene.  Awesome!

Sven Gali earned the band two 1993 Juno Awards nominations:  Most Promising Group, and Hard Rock Album Of The Year.  They won neither, but good on them.  Aaron would be pleased to remember that Skydiggers won Most Promising Group that year.  Hard Rock was won by rival band Slik Toxik.

Unfortunately, all would not go well for our friends in Sven Gali.  Seattle came a-knockin’, and they answered.  Or was it the other way around?  It doesn’t matter; it ends the same way.  Find out tomorrow when we finish the tale.

3/5 stars

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50 comments

  1. I came across a cassette copy of the “In My Garden” single among my Mom’s tapes when I was a teenager and remember liking the song, but I had no idea who Sven Gali were. This is the first time I’ve heard of them since that tape.

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  2. This debut simply kicks ass..while everyone else was drooling over Slick Toxic (they were good) I liked this album much better as a whole than the Toxic debut. For sure at the time they reminded me a bit of a Canadian Skid Row but hell the songs on this cook,as well as well everything!
    These guys were going places with this one and to this day I still listen to it regularly in the iPod. Man U can’t beat Under The Infleunce as a lead off track…man that track just plowed me in the side of the head the first time I seen it on Muchmusic. And of course the articles in MEAT magazine as well kept me informed on the street date for the release which I think I bought if not on or close to the day it was released.
    Great debut..I’d give it a 4/5 Mike!
    Check out Sven Gali live from Whistler on youtube playing Under The Influence…
    Wanless starts a snowball fight during the tune and takes one right in the good ol nut sack and doesn’t miss a beat..it’s funny as hell!
    RIP DEE….

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    1. Right on Deke, I will check that out. Nothing like getting hit in the nuts to prove you’re a man!

      I hope you like tomorrow’s review. To use Jon’s terminology, I oiled up the chainsaw for the next review! They definitely took a dive after this one.

      RIP DEE.

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  3. I had a cassette promo single – can’t remember if it was Tie Dyed Skies or Under the influence but the band introduced the tune. You’ve inspired me to look for it next time I visit my parents, they were good songs!

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      1. It’s possible – I just remember a sven gali single being the first by any group I’d heard with a band voice-over to introduce. Nice to read about Slik Toxik as well – Helluvatime, combined with Under the influence & Big House’s “All Night” were my gateway to Canadian hard rock in the early 90s!

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  4. My strongest memory of this band is of a gravel pit party in high school, the music blaring. I suppose that’s fitting? I remember UTI more clearly than TDS. Man, you really blew the dust off the ol’ memory, with this one.

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  5. These guys really wanted to be Skid Row, right? Until, of course, they released their second album and all of a sudden they wanted to come from Seattle. One of the worst bandwagon jumpers ever.
    But, hell, I want good songs and I don’t give a rat’s ass about originality if I can that. I saw the videos for Under The Influence (that riff, man, that riff! Snake Sabo would have killed for it!) and Tie Dyed Skies am I the only one who hears a big Van Halen influence in the chorus?) on Headbange’s Ball and that was all I needed to go and buy my copy of the album. Still think it’s a motherf**ker of a record and I still listen to it quite a lot. Hoewever, I did not buy the follow up. One video on HB was enough for me not to buy it.

    Now I wanna know who Dee is and what about the RIP.

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    1. Dee Cernille the guitar player died of cancer in 2012. Very sad. I will talking a little bit about that tomorrow.

      And don’t you worry…we will be talking about the bandwagon jumping tomorrow. I’m really excited :)

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    1. Me and my friends loved this album and they played Under The Influence quiet a lot at the rock clubs in Stockholm, but other than that they really didn’t do anything at all in my country.
      Such a shame what happened to Dee. Cancer is a bitch.
      It’s really unusual that I don’t know the names of members in bands that I really like…

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        1. Not only did they exist…but you’re headed for a Helluvatime!

          Their star tarnished when, at the MuchMusic video awards, the bassist got loaded, stole a limo, and crashed it.

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        2. I still think it’s all an elaborate hoax, but I liked that – a little like I remember Babylon A.D being.

          Way to go bassist! I’m sure none of the rest of his erstwhile bandmates hold any grudges to this day.

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        3. Oh oh! And the singer had a rivalry with Sebastian Bach. He said some stuff about Bach, Bach heard, and threatened to kick his little teeny tiny ass. And they’re both from Toronto. But when they met they didn’t fight and I was sad.

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        4. Yes! You got it. They opened for Maiden in the UK on the Seventh Son tour. They were not killers though. They’re about to make their big comeback currently actually! I’m excited, I thought they were pretty good.

          This right here is the best video ever made.

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        5. They did this video as an indi band. To do this in 1986 on indi budget, almost unheard of! So they were known for their comedic videos. When they tried to go serious later, it didn’t translate into bigger sales although the music was great.

          When they opened for Maiden…final night of the tour, so everybody’s joking around…Darrel Dwarf went out their in just his cowboy boots and g-string during Maiden’s set…kicking his boots up during “Die With Your Boots On”! Bruce ripped his undies right off and chased him offstage…I have it all on an old VHS tape. It was all filmed for part of this TV special on Killer Dwarfs first big tour!

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        6. You gotta love bands who adopt the same surnames like the Donnas & the Ramones &, umm, the Jacksons. Just think how much better the Beatles could have been if they’d done this.

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        7. The Beatles did have a guy named Ringo, let’s give them points for that at least.

          I dunno if any of this Canadian music is translating well to you or not, but playing these videos is so nostalgic for me! I really thought these guys might be huge one day.

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        8. Canadian is good – my top 3 Canadian rock bands (excluding Rush), in no particular order:

          1. Annihilator
          2. The Pursuit of Happiness
          3. DOA
          4. Exciter
          5. Danko Jones

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        9. I’ve also got a Canadian punk covers LP called ‘Oh Canaduh!’ too – new (1992) bands covering older Canadian punk tracks. I might do that one too, full of stuff like DOA and Screaming Fist and Diodes.

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        10. I remember Slik Toxik. Well, I remember that they played their video, maybe it was the one you posted, but it never stuck. They were one of the bands, together with crap like Southgang and Roxy Blue that killed the melodic hard rock scene (yes, I do refuse to use the term hair metal – there’s no such thing!) and paved way for grunge – which killed everything that was fun with music…

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        11. Yeah there’s definitely some truth to that. A lot of those bands were so faceless. I can’t remember one single thing about Roxy Blue. Southgang had Butch Walker, right? Who was Mr. Pop Producer for the megastars after that…

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        12. Did I ever tell you the story about the time I bodychecked Moe Berg? OK it was an accident, but there was a crown in front of Lee’s Palace and I stepped around one hoser and walked right into this little guy in a black leather jacket with buckles BANG. I immediately apologized (I am Canadian, after all) and it was him. He was cool about it. Nice guy. I got to tell him I love TPOH, he liked that, of course. I also read his book, he liked that too.

          http://www.amazon.ca/green-room-Moe-Berg/dp/189635632X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382153365&sr=1-1&keywords=moe+berg+the+green+room

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      1. Hey man, we all have a lot of names to remember in our heads! It’s not easy.

        Under the Influence should have been so much bigger in those days. I don’t know why it wasn’t. Maybe their image just wasn’t “cool” enough.

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