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Triumph - Just A Game CD (album) cover

JUST A GAME

Triumph

 

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2.69 | 52 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
1 stars I was spreading manure over my rose bushes this evening and it occurred to me that I hadn’t played any Triumph albums in quite some time. Well the mood seemed right, so off I went to the den to fish out something suitable to the occasion. And nestled back in the stacks just behind a couple of Butthole Surfers records and the stylish Keith Carradine ‘I’m Easy’ album I found this thing. Imagine my surprise it survived the Shaun of the Dead skeet-shoot my brother and I had last summer! And the goofy proto- Guitar Hero band board game on the inside fold was an added bonus I had forgotten about. My kids were so not impressed when I asked if they wanted to play it. Oh well.

This is the record that did two things, one for the band and one for me personally. On the band front the release of “Lay it on the Line” and “Hold On” gave them their first American hit singles. For me the album supplied some of the best lyrical arguments for Triumph being the most chauvinistic, juvenile, and shallow trio of Canadians I’ve ever laid eyes on. And yes – unfortunately I did see them live in the seventies. Then again, I also saw their countrymen April Wine and Loverboy (three times), so it’s clear my bar for acceptable entertainment was hovering pretty close to the ground in those days. For the record I’d rate April Wine as the overall least-sucky of the bunch. But I digress.

The best of the best? Here we go:

“Are you sure I'm the heartless one woman, after all we've been through? I gave you the best of my love, my sweet hoochie- koo”;

“Don't waste my time - lay it on the line; you got no right to make me wait - we better talk, girl, before it gets too late”;

“I'm talking about American girls, they got what I need; American girls, that's what I want - American girls”;

Inspiring stuff. I really am at a loss to understand why Fish didn’t cover a few of these classics. Or even Wishbone Ash during their ‘Twin Barrels Burning’ days. Wasted opportunities.

Really there’s nothing much to say about this album that can’t be said of most of the rest of the tripe Triumph put out in the seventies. Shallow, loud, two-chord pseudo white-boy blues with plenty of spandex, hair extensions, well-placed cucumbers, and as always Rik Emmett’s just-raped-a-cat vocals. To be fair though, Emmett manages to push out the worst first on “Movin’ On” with his unique brand of scorched-earth lyrical mangling. After that he actually seems to come to the realization that he’s both out of tune and well beyond his octave range most of the time and reigns things in vocal-wise until almost the end where the title track proves to be too much temptation and he strangles a few more small critters in the name of art. I have say to his vocal performance on the instrumental “Fantasy Serenade” is one of his finest efforts of that decade though.

For some reason the band felt the need to enlist some help in the vocal department; maybe they actually listened to Emmett’s reference tracks early enough in the process to realize that an auditory masking agent was in order. Whatever. Vocal-Coach-To- The-Stars™ Elaine Overholt, Leigh-Ashford (who?) guitarist Gord Waszek, Anne Murray sidekick Colina Phillips and somebody named Clint Ryan from something called Spuff all lend their vocal chords, but nobody bothered to turn off Emmett’s mike so really it’s no use. At least the boys showed some patriotic spirit by only surrounding themselves with fellow Canucks. Or maybe it’s just that the Labour department didn’t buy the ‘artistic value’ rationale for the work visa applications of American or British session musicians. Whichever.

Well, I have my fix of these guys for another year or so. Apparently I need to go scrape fungus out of the rain gutters before bedtime, so its time to switch out Triumph for some appropriate accompaniment for that task. Some Ratt maybe.

Anyway – peace

ClemofNazareth | 1/5 |

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