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Max Webster A Million Vacations album cover
4.13 | 35 ratings | 5 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1- Paradise Skies (3:15)
2- Charmonium (4:15)
3- Night Flights (3:02)
4- Sun Voices (4:50)
5- Moon Voices (3:05)
6- A Million Vacations (3:10)
7- Look Out (4:53)
8- Let Go The Line (3:25)
9- Rascal Houdi (3:28)
10- Research (At Beach Resort) (4:45)

Line-up / Musicians

Kim Mitchell - guitars and vocals
Terry Watkinson - keyboards and vocals
Garry McCracken - drums
Dave Myles - bass

Releases information

Anthem AND-1018

Thanks to Sean Trane Tony R for the addition
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MAX WEBSTER A Million Vacations ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MAX WEBSTER A Million Vacations reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars After the incredibly Mutiny album, could Webster better themselves yet another time? With the bar being placed so high, this was to be a tough challenge, to which Max partially succeeded. Clearly still frustrated by their lack of international stardom being still denied, Webster responded by a more commercial album, but this was at the cost of some of their harder-edged songwriting. But the average quality of the tracks on this album is at an all-time high for them. Not one weak track on this baby (this was something they could never avoid before) and many semi-classics. One of the major changes is that the album is not produced by Terry Brown anymore, but by a much poppier producer de Nottbeck. And wow, does it change things quite a bit!!

In some ways, you can feel that something was changing in the group as Watkinson is a bit more present (he gets two tracks in this time) and his playing is even more present than in previous albums. Most of the tracks are out to be very commercial, and it does show and dare I say it hamper a bit the album, as the sound is clearly designed to be smoother. Right from opener Paradise Skies to the title track, the writing is a bit more conventional with less dynamics or breaks (FM radio-friendly rock anyone?). And as much as Watkinson tries, his two tracks (the good Charmonium and the perky Let Go The Line) do not manage to better Mitchell's more subdued songwritings.

Only the last (live) track Research and second last Rascal Houdi are there to remind you that Webster could also be an explosive powerhouse, but unfortunately this is much too late to save the album. And clearly this raw side of the group was eclipsed in order to achieve that desperate (and yet elusive) success. One of the best example I can think to show you what's happening albums is that on the Look Out track (clearly their best on this album), everything was set for a superb and searing guitar solo in the first part, and we get a good but tame-sounding KB solo tat takes away the edge of the song, while the superb ending (worthy of their previous "epic tracks") is simply drowned out by a stupid (and botched IMHO) production job. Sun Voices is rather cute and leads off into their habitual Moon references, which is still in context of their typical mentality.

Sadly no matter how good Webster were making albums; they could not seem to break internationally (until way too late) and it was clear frustrations were becoming apparent. After a live album, Watkinson will leave the group, leaving Mitchell alone at the helm. And if Universal Juveniles would finally crack open the charts for Webster, it was clear that Watkinson had taken a big chunk of their spirits with him. If I seem down on this album (I think I explained fairly why), it is not that bad, and maybe to my memories, I still classify this album as a classic Webster album: if you are to listen to those songs but imagine a Terry Brown production, this album would've been another killer.

Review by Gooner
5 stars While not all Max Webster would classify as prog.rock, this one IS their _prog.rock_ album. Max Webster is unique in a Be Bop Deluxe kind of way. Not overtly prog.rock, but pretty darn close. They can sound as lush as Steely Dan, as heavy as Deep Purple, as progressive as Rush and as quirky as Gentle Giant...all in one track. Throw in a little Frank Zappa and some Canterbury sounds to boot. 4 stars overall, but 5 stars as THE Max Webster masterpiece(a close 2nd would be _High Class In Borrowed Shoes_ which is their sophomore effort). What follows is the best review I've ever read of Max Webster's _A Million Vacations_ which appears on the Canadian site:

On the fourth album by Sarnia, Ontario's most significant contribution to Canadian rock, Max Webster's gonzo prog-rock style starts to give way to the poppier, more radio-ready sound that would define singer- guitarist Kim Mitchell's '80s solo albums. Terry Watkinson's synth keyboards are more prominent on A Million Vacations than on Max Webster's early discs, and the exuberant Paradise Skies and Night Flights certainly wouldn't seem out of place on Mitchell's double-platinum Akimbo Alogo, released five years later in 1984. At the same time, A Million Vacations still has plenty of the band's gonzo sense of humour and idiosyncratic take on '70s arena rock. Rascal Houdi is a rave-up that fits somewhere in style between Del Shannon and Frank Zappa, while the centrepiece pair of Sun Voices and Moon Voices combine spacey, Yes-style portentousness with a rhythm section that can't help but boogie. Best of all is the title track, a classic rock radio staple. Anybody who's grown up in a small town knows exactly what Max Webster are getting at when they sing that you can only drive down Main Street so many times. --Jason Anderson

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Happiness, man... it's beginning to rise.

Canada's best kept secret, Max Webster has, by this point, entertained many ears with their pseudo-prog hard rock, although without much success internationally. While this album would not change that fact it would still give them a huge leap forwards in Canada's rock scene. Although unknown by me as to their know-ability outside of the great White North, this album had some huge hits on it and the album, in general, sounds a lot different than the Webster that we're used to. It's often been said that this band is from the moon, mostly because of their obscure music and lyrics, but after a couple albums and a change in producer will they still be able to keep that sound? Especially when trying to become a better know act?

Well, yes and no. While there are still some totally off the wall moments on this album the polish is a bit too thick to really see the band as it once was. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Nope. Actually, it's very interesting to see how dynamic the band was able to be during their incredibly short lived time together. From their quirky debut to the moment where they found their niche on Mutiny Up My Sleeve to this gem the band constantly evolved and let loose upon the world a series of excellent albums, all of them deserving of the Prog-lover's attention, even if they weren't 100% bona-fide prog.

Starting with the hit Paradise Skies it's clear that the band has taken another route. Still heavy and full of energy, this is the band with a shinier coat on. This album is mostly full of good rock songs, something the band was always good with, but it's those moments to pure out-there-ism that's of the most interest to the progger. Sun Voices/Moon Voices is an excellent example of just that. Moon Voices especially in a rare case of a Max Webster instrumental.

Other high-points on the album include the smooth and somehow unsettling A Million Vacations, the key driven Look Out and the ever beautiful Let Go The Line with its well pulled off vocals (not by Mitchell) and classic riff which sticks in your head like some kind of crazy-glue. Research (At Beach Resorts) isn't quite as good as the band's former closing tracks, the best of which being the debut's Lily, but it still manages to show through with the band's quirk, something that has been absent through a lot of the album.

Likely the only disappointing part about the album is the sleeve! A bunch of beach balls with the title of the album spelled out in some kind of Hawaiian restaurant menu-font with a couple of vacation pictures on an otherwise white background is a lot less appealing than the spiffy neon-fire of the previous album or the head-scratching weirdness that graced the debut. But hey, the sleeve has nothing to do with the music, so no complaints here. It would have been nice, however, if Anthem Atlantic has decided to give these boys some liner notes with their re-masters instead of just the cover with a blank inside!

When it comes right down to the music this is excellent stuff that any progger should enjoy. A very well done album with tons of replay value in it makes this album worth 4 stars. Good job boys!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This would really be the first MAX WEBSTER album to have a theme to it, as we listen to lyrics about summer, the beach and vacations. As one of those "frost bitten canadian boys" I dream all winter about summer. Summer is our time to shine. I bought this on cassette back in 1979 mainly because of the song "Research (At Beach Resorts)" which mentions Wasaga Beach, the town (beach resort) I have lived in all my life. It was funny the first time l played this for my son, because when he heard Kim sing "Wasaga Beach" he couldn't believe it, he couldn't stop smiling. This would be more of a commercial sounding album for this band with less of that raw guitar sound. It works though because of how good these songs all are.

"Paradise Skies" has long been a favourite of mine. Both the vocals and guitar soar on this track. It's just an upbeat, feel good song. Cool guitar solo after 2 minutes. Nice contrast in this one with the uplifting chorus and the more aggressive verses. "Charmonium" is a Terry Watkinson song both lyrically and musically. He also sings the words.Go Terry ! Haha. This one opens with organ as guitar and drums come in. A very uptempo, feel good tune. Vocal melodies after 2 minutes are great, and we get a synth solo before 3 minutes. "Night Flights" still moves me to this day. Again it's like summer holiday music in the sun and sand for me. Kim sings about chasing the sun in this amazing song. Love the chorus. "Sun Voices" is a dreamy, lazy summertime track. I really like the atmosphere after a minute as his vocals soften. The guitar cries out before 4 1/2 minutes to the end of the song. Nice. "Moon Voices" opens with what sounds like xylophone and drums. Vocal melodies after 2 1/2 minutes.

"A Million Vacations" is a classic WEBSTER song about partying on the weekends. Some Zappa moments on this one too. Great track. "Look Out" features pulsating synths, pounding drums and prominant guitar that are contrasted with the lighter sections. This is such a good song. A synth solo before 3 minutes. Nice guitar 4 1/2 minutes in. "Let Go The Line" is the other Terry Watkinson track that he wrote the lyrics and music for, and sings the words too. This one was all over the radio back in those days. I like the lyrics on this one. "Rascal Houdi" is an uptempo,fun tune. "Research (At Beach Resorts)" reminds me of Zappa. This is a down and dirty, grind it out track about vacations on the beach. The guitar is raunchy and so are the lyrics. As for Wasaga Beach he says "Bonfire pits at midnight, hangover rhymes at sunrise six". Raw guitar follows that line, and it goes on and on. Kim then encourages us to "Put on the sunglasses, get in the parade, we're gonna cruise the beach, we might just get crazed !" Also love the line "Lineup crowds at the pavillion, MAX is playing "Vacations". I can tell you there have been many lineups to see MAX WEBSTER at Wasaga Beach back in those days.

So I do have a sentimental attachment to this album. It takes me back to the good old days with words and songs that are still relavent today.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Of the 4 Max Webster releases in my collection, A Million Vacations is the most consistently enjoyable and engaging. This is a loosely organized concept record in that all the songs involve these "frost bitten Canadian boys" living it up on some sort of rock n' roll tour of the suncoast. Of ... (read more)

Report this review (#76693) | Posted by leathermusic | Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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