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Max Webster

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Max Webster Max Webster album cover
3.93 | 38 ratings | 6 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1- Hangover (4:36)
2- Here among The Cats (3:07)
3- Blowing the Blues Away (3:33)
4- Summer turning Blue (3:05)
5- Toronto Tontos (3:40)
6- Coming Off The Moon (3:38)
7- Only Your Nose Knows (4.16)
8- Summer's Up (2:45)
9- Lily (7:42)

Line-up / Musicians

Paul Kersey - drums
Mike Tilka - bass
Kim Mitchell - guitars and vocals
Terry Watkinson - keyboards and vocals

Releases information

Anthem ANBD-1006

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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MAX WEBSTER Max Webster ratings distribution

(38 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MAX WEBSTER Max Webster reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Debut album from one of the most original group coming from Canada, and certainly a bloody stunner that stayed in the subconscious of almost every teenager from Toronto, but of all Canada as well. This writer remembers being a fan as far back as possible, buying the debut album and playing it until the vinyl became almost transparent. These guys were all very exciting on stage with their energetic music, stage antics (leader Mitchell being a very athletic young man) and their imaginative and original songwriting. They even managed to get the girls started with their glitter outfits. Webster (these guys were looking for a name like Jethro Tull - this is the only real explanation about their name) was always the thing of two songwriters even though guitarist Mitchell was much more prolific than keyboardist Watkinson, but Mitchell's tracks were always written with Pye Dubois' lyrics (Rush fans will remember him) and the group found a home on Anthem Records, which is also well known to us progheads.

How could any teen getting drunk and ignore the opening Hangover track (to which the weird square heads refer to on the artwork). This track, starting out on a heavily distorted and feedback guitar is a stunning start and a fitting intro into the crazy world of Max Webster. To describe their sound is rather uneasy as they could range from early Queen, have 10 CC's best inspirational moments, with quirky songwriting The Cars would not have denied. Not very progressive you might say, but please bear with me for Webster is always changing tempo, sometimes cramming so many idea into one track that others groups would make a whole album out one of their songs. Their constant rhythm changes were quite impressive, almost (certainly IMHO) progressive but the typical chord progressions of what made classic prog bands their trade is a bit absent in their albums. Hangover is then followed by another killer track Here Among The Cats, another live favorite and also a fave of mine (since back then all young dudes were the cats). Next is a rather different-sounding (because written by KB-man Watkinson) followed a typical slow Webster track - there will be a few in the following albums, but they were quite at ease with those too, even if their forte were full-blown rock party tracks. The first wax side is ended by another stunner (and maybe the definitive pop side of Webster) with the stunning Toronto Tontos, which came some seven years before The B-52's Rock Lobster. A stunning témoignage that these guys were also ahead of their time, this track is truly a joyful moments of musical delirium.

The second side starts with one of the obsessions from the quartet, their lunatic bizarrerie, as if they were coming of our natural satellite planet, the Moon: for the next four albums, there will always be a track making reference to it, maybe explaining how lunatically strange these guys could be. This is another highlight of the album but hardly the only one, since most of the first side of the album are classics. Only Your Nose Knows and the lengthy (almost 8 min) Lily are also excellent and typical tracks while Summer's Up has a bit of Zappa feeling in it.

Maybe this group is not a prog icon per se, but all progheads loving intelligent rock and pop should get a load of this superb band that never got the recognition it deserved until it was dying.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Toronto's best kept secret.

Hard rock, progressive flavored rockers Max Webster here put forth a stunning debut. Known by many as label mates to the progressive giants Rush, this band has a lot to offer all on it's own. While in their native land of Canada this band has many hits and gets a lot of air play, outside of the country the band never really got the credit it deserved until too late. While perhaps not the most progressive music in the world, this is a band that will none-the-less appeal to many prog fans for the band's many subtle complexities and even some longer songs.

Onto the topic of the actual music, Webster's debut is a very strong piece. Likely one of the better albums to be put out by the band, this offering holds some truly wonderful tracks, along with some great party tunes. Opening with the rocker, Hangover, the album sets it's tone. Strong riffs and lush melodies along with a jumpy rhythm section paired up with the quirky vocals of one Kim MITCHELL make for a very interesting mix. While the rest of the album tends to mix in more hard blues than heavy rock this is still a pretty heavy album all around. Here Among The Cats is where this starts, except this song with some more pronounced keyboards. This is also about the point where the quirkiness of the album starts to set in. While this isn't a bad thing, if you aren't one for a bit of quirkiness, then Max Webster may not be the band for you outside of a few songs.

Moving onto to some slower bluesy songs, Webster still manages to keep attention. Blowing The Blues Away is a song with some great riffs and a style similar to that of American-rock-greats CCR. Though slower it still keeps up pace and mood, and is a very uplifting song in terms of music and lyrics. A great solo in the middle and we're on our way. Summer Turning Blue is likely the slowest song on the album. While not on the same page as the rest of the album the song is well led into, and as such doesn't feel too out of place. Good melodies and backing pianos make this song very worth listening to.

Then the album picks up again!

Back with the quirk as well. Toronto Tontos is a... freaky (for lack of a better word) song with some crazy lyrics, vocals, keyboards and melodies. Still one of the standouts of the album just for ''weirding-it-up'' (to quote Californian rocker Mike Palm of Agent Orange) this song is quite a treat, just make sure you're prepared for it... because it can definitely throw you off something fierce.

Making our way back into more traditional Hard Rock, and starting the band's fascination with the moon in Coming Off The Moon (Webster would have a song about the moon featured on each of their studio albums but one). Likely the heaviest song since the opener, this is a great track to rock out to. Following close comes Only Your Nose Knows which continues on the heavy and fast pace, this one with a bit more quirk as well.

So far no weak tracks, and the album starts to come to a close.

However, to throw in a curve ball, the last two songs on the album are probably the best! Summer's Up is a funkily paced song that induces tow tapping while the unique melodies can easily send a chill up one's spine. This song is fantastic! It's just far too bad that the track is only about two and a half minutes long, because one wants it to last forever. A great piano solo near the end and the song comes to a close. Then there's the album's opus, Lily. This is where the band is able to flex their progressive muscle. Starting with slow pianos and emotional vocals the song just picks up and up until it reaches multiple peaks, each one thrilling for the prog fan. Lush keyboards and guitar solos at each of the albums highest points make for an excellent addition as the song makes it's way through it's seven and a half minute duration. Excellent.

So, while they may not be truly progressive, Max Webster still manages to deliver great hard rock music that should appeal to most prog fans, assuming that they're not afraid of a bit of unusualness. Not a progressive masterpiece, but an excellent addition to your collection none the less. 4 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Any Canadian who listed RUSH as one of their favourite bands in the seventies probably also had MAX WEBSTER high on that same list. These two bands went together like bacon and eggs. If you want to know some of the RUSH / MAX WEBSTER connections check out my review of MAX's "Greatest Hits". This band truly was a Canadian phenomenon, which is probably why the 4 written reviews for this record(counting mine) were done by Canadians(Sean Trane from Belgium grew up in Toronto).

"Hangover" is even better live. Check out the distorted guitar to open as riffs follow in this great party tune. Lines like "double vision when the bars close down" were a favourite with the young partying crowd back then. Nice guitar/drum frenzy late. "Here Among The Cats" features fantastic drumming throughout and some great organ as well. Kim's vocals are so good as he sings "I keep telling everyone, everyone I shoulda been a doctor." Classic Mitchell guitar solo 2 1/2 minutes in. Zappa style vocals to end it. "Blowing The Blues Away" is a good song but it's my least favourite on the album. Watkinson(keyboards) wrote this one. The rest were written by Mitchell and Dubois. This one is more laid back and lighter. "Summer Turning Blue" opens with piano as Kim comes in with reserved and lighter vocals this time. Drums join in. How beautiful is the chorus with backup vocals. "Toronto Toros" is avante-gard and so funny. French lyrics at times with strange and humorous vocal styles. It also rocks like hell with organ. Love the line after 3 1/2 minutes "no cigarettes, no ah matches" with that fake accent.

"Coming Off The Moon" sounds incredible, simply a feel good song. The guitar tone is perfect and check out the drums 2 1/2 minutes in. "Only Your Nose Knows" is an uptempo,catchy track. Guitar and drums are outstanding. "Summer's Up" really describes what I think of when I think of MAX WEBSTER, and that is summer, and having a great time. He sings the word "sunrays" a lot. Some nice bass lines in this one. When he sings in a lower voice about winter and how magic(summer) is on the way, i'm sure only us Northerners can really appreciate the expectations we have for spring and summer after months of snow and cold. I like when the piano comes in late, so summer-like. "Lily" was written by Kim without Dubois this time. What can i say about this one. If you could only feel how it makes me feel inside no words would be necessary. When Kim cries "Lily come near me, Lily come sit near me", it's one of the most heartbreaking lines in music for me. This song is so progressive as well, with all the tempo and mood changes. I really think this is MAX WEBSTER's finest hour(almost 8 minutes) right here. The guitar solo after a minute reminds me of Zappa. Perhaps Mithell's best solo ever before 7 minutes that goes on and on. He's a killer guitar player as our own King By-tor will attest.

Hard to be biased with this one, but 4 stars easily.

Review by Gooner
4 stars A great start for Max Webster. Features the oddball classic _Toronto Tontos_. How to describe it? Hmmm...The Little Rascals' _International Silver String Submarine Band_(google it) gone electric and embracing the infamous actor from Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES as the vocalist. I'm talking about the actor with the one line: BADGES? WE DONT NEED NO STINKIN' BADGES! Yes, that is _Toronto Tontos_. Also features the annoying _Hangover_. Distorted guitars throughout and lyrics about having a massive hangover and waking up the drunk tank. What a great way to start an album. ;-) 2 aspirin, please.

Best tracks are the two about summer, _Summer's Up_ and _Summer Turning Blue_ giving everyone that late-July/early-August feeling most northern folk know about. Nothing heavy, just great songwriting. Only the band Max Webster can write tracks like this. Very much in the same way Caravan and Wigwam can wite amazing rock/pop. The track _Lily_ shows the Max-machine stretching out with some fine keyboarding by Terry Watkinson - approaching rock/jazz fusion territory much like Germany's Passport (no sax, though) or Steely Dan's ROYAL SCAM. _Here Among The Cats_ would please the hard rock fan, and _Only Your Nose Knows_ would please the lyrically astute. Recommended, but not the starter for anyone with virgin ears to Max Webster. The first is their most bizarre. Still...a solid 4 stars.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Max Webster were a Canadian band perhaps best known for their Rush connection's - both bands came from Toronto, they toured together and shared the same record producer; Terry Brown. Unfortunately Max Webster wouldn't achieve the success of their fellow Canadian's despite releasing a string of very strong albums.

Their eponymous debut released in 1976 is a fine album with great musicianship, particularly the guitar playing from vocalist/frontman Kim Mitchell. Though their music had progressive overtones they weren't a prog band per se, though the clever arrangements and touches of quirkiness set them apart from the average heavy rock band at the time. Alongside the heavy rock they also displayed a keen ear for a strong melody which they would exploit more on future releases. Tracks like Toronto Tontos show the wackier side of the band - surely they had been listening to Frank Zappa while Blowing The Blues show them at their more melodic. Coming Off The Moon and Only Your Nose Knows captures them at their rocking best. They save perhaps the best for last. Lily is not only the longest track at just short of eight minutes but also the most progressive, the extra length giving them the opportunity to stretch out with some great playing and strong dynamics.

An excellent debut then which is as good as anything they released though follow up High Class In Borrowed Shoes is widely regarded as their all time best.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Being a Canadian teenager, growing up in Mississauga, just outside of Toronto, of course I have come across the album in my time. This album, being my favorite from the Max Webster discography, was an excellent debut album for Kim Mitchell and Co. You just cannot go wrong with any of the tracks ... (read more)

Report this review (#79087) | Posted by smokey | Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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