One of the great perks to a M.E.A.T Magazine subscription was getting free promo tapes in the mail. One of the bands that M.E.A.T had been hyping was Sven Gali, who had a major label debut on deck with BMG for release. We were all curious what Sven Gali sounded like…and then this promo tape arrived, previewing three of the tracks!
The lead singer can make or break a band, and Sven Gali had Dave Wanless. Mr. Wanless had the power reminiscent of another successful Canadian, a certain Sebastian Something who was out there ruling the concert stages. Wanless also had the right look, and of course a pretty good band! From the ranks of Billy Idol came veteran drummer Gregg Gerson, joining with Dee Cernile (guitars, R.I.P.), Andy Frank (guitars), and “T.T.” (bass). They could rock. They had soloists arguably more interesting than the guys in Skid Row. And, as evident in this tape, they could write hooks.
“Freakz” wasn’t the lead single, but it could have been. Rebellious rock attitude, tires smoking down a dark alley, guns blazing…and just a pinch of funk. “When you gonna learn, baybay!” screams Dave Wanless, and just know he’s got at least one fist raised when he’s singing it.
Up second is a track that did become a single, the dark ballad “In My Garden” (an edit version). This world-class ballad has all the right ingredients including chorus hooks, a place to shout along, and perfect guitars. In the early 1990s, if grunge had not derailed the rock n’ roll train, bands like Sven Gali (more aggressive than the 80s groups but not abandoning solos and choruses, and with an ear for musicianship) would have been the next wave.
The last track on the tape is the borderline thrash of “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”, ironic in hindsight since Sven Gali only managed two albums before being submerged by the flotsam of the mid 90s rock scene. Skid Row comparisons are easy to make (in a positive way), but there’s one major difference between Skid Row and Sven Gali. That is Sven Gali still have their original singer where Skid Row do not. (They have a new track out called “You Won’t Break Me” to be followed by a CD in 2020.) They might not have exceeded the fame of Skid Row, but they might just end up having more material with their original singer….
This cassette whet the appetite for the eventual album, which maybe suffered from too much material, but on tape these songs sound ace!
Check out the credits. Photos by famed photographer Floria Sigismondi, who took just about every memorable photo of every 90s band you can think of. Today she’s a movie director! She’s the reason this tape looks so cool.