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”.
Side 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.