Friday, November 9, 2012


YEAR:  1985
LABEL:  Columbia
TRACK LISTING:  Cosmetics,  Desperate,  City of the Angels,  Walking On Air,  Burning Torches of Hope,  Keep the Tension On,  Guerilla Soldier,  (You're A) Strange Animal,  A Criminal Mind
IMPRESSIONS:  Boy, listening to this album all these years later is cause for embarrassment.  It's not that the songs aren't good; they are.  But it's the hopelessly eighties song arrangements which almost totter the album into the land of cringe.  But I must admit this is a definite guilty pleasure.  The production and arrangements by David Tickle are much too poppy and seem to be aimed at 12 year old girls.  Which it probably was back then.  I even remember at the time hearing the follow-up album "GREAT DIRTY WORLD" and thinking what a more "grown-up" adult contemporary sound had been achieved.  The songs "Moonlight Desires" and especially the anthemic "Dedication" can be listened to today without the slightest cringing.  But back to STRANGE ANIMAL.  What a gloriously over-the-top eighties bubble gum hair mousse and lipstick mascara circus of an album this is.  Fittingly the first track is called "Cosmetics" because this is one glammed-up sounding MTV generation album.  The only song that made it onto MTV was the video for "A Criminal Mind" which is still a fantastic operatic tour de force in the style of the video for Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More"; all strange masks and straight jackets.  I seem to have purchased this record (yes, on vinyl) right before I had four impacted wisdom teeth out in 1985.  Actually, I bought the LP at Sam Goody at the Moorestown Mall!  I remember taping it and playing it over and over on my Walkman while I was recuperating.  Coming out as it did smack dab in the middle of the 80s, STRANGE ANIMAL always slams me right back to that time when I was working at Rustler and the eighties were at their height.  So I'm naturally extremely forgiving of the perhaps cheesy overly-theatrical production on this nostalgic guilty pleasure.  And the best song on the album -- A Criminal Mind -- can be listened to today with no apologies. 
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Cosmetics,  Desperate,  Burning Torches of Hope,  Keep the Tension On,  Guerilla Soldier,  A Criminal Mind
FACT SHEET:  STRANGE ANIMAL is Gowan's second album. Larry Gowan is a Scottish-born Canadian artist who is a classically-trained pianist.  He was in the band Rhinegold before going solo under the name Gowan.  STRANGE ANIMAL features Peter Gabriel's rhythm section of Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin.  The album was heavily honoured by the Juno Awards winning a "Best Video" Juno for "A Criminal Mind" and "Best Album Graphics" by designers Rob MacIntyre and Dimo Safari as well as being nominated for "Male Vocalist of the Year", "Album of the Year", "Best Selling Single" for "A Criminal Mind" and "Best Video" for both "(You're A) Strange Animal" and "Cosmetics".  Since 1999, Larry Gowan has been the lead singer for the band Styx.     

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