The Liner/Sleeve Notes:
“Gene MacLellan is rolling down Highway 401. Alone. He is returning from one of his eating-money legion hall dates in a forgotten northern Ontario town; a stand by guitarist with a country group that never did have a name. It is 2 a.m. when he dozes of, careens to the road shoulder and rolls end-over-end to a grinding crashing stop. He lies unconscious, alone, in the wreckage, pierced in a hundred places with the shattered glass of the windshield.
He has been a dishwasher, worked in a chemical plant, spent some time as an attendant in a mental hospital. He has grubbed in the cold Fall ground in Prince Edward Island as a potato picker. He has played the tough bars of northern Ontario and the political rallies in country halls as a warm-up act to the posturing of politicians and there always has been a thorn in his shoe. A thorn that kept him wandering, searching…
He wakes up, alone, in the sterile emptiness of a hospital room. And he retreats alone into a shell that begins his two year Gethsemane – a searching for himself that ends and yet begins anew in an old farmhouse in a country hamlet called Pawnal, P.E.I.
Here there is a sense of removal, of isolation, and for Gene MacLellan, roots at last.
A long cold winter at this very private place, and eventually a snowbird that promised spring. The promise was captured, the bird flew on, and a life was reborn. It is not often you are there when something ends and something else begins. Treasure that knowing.”
I originally came to know of Gene from the back of the “Sounds Canadian” LP, which advertised this album here, and well, he’s not Dr. Hook, but any man with an eyepatch is very memorable. So, here he is, Gene MacLellan!
The album opens with the song “Face in the Mirror” and well, Gene definitely has a terrific country voice, this guy is phenomenal with his vocals, he definitely doesn’t sound as you’d think he would. This song is great to be honest. I love this little unknown country albums, they’re really what is the best. The guitar playing is great. After that comes the song “Death of the Black Donnellys” which opens a bit slowly, before the song picks up with drumming, banjo and steel guitar, as well as Gene’s terrific vocals, this song is so great, I can’t even believe I haven’t heard this before. So great. We continue on with a slower, more country sounding song – “Pages of Time” comes next, and it’s pretty fantastic, this guy sure can sing, and everything here is phenomenal! We continue on with another quicker paced time, “Thorn in My Shoe” and it’s performed pretty fantastically, Gene continues on with his fantastic vocals in all of these wonderful songs. Albums and artists like these are the ones that make you realize how lucky you are to live in Canada, among such talented artists. “What Can You Do” comes next, and it’s another slower song, but performed so beautifully by Gene, and it’s just a perfect country song. Absolutely fantastic. The A-Side closes with another steady paced track, “The Robin” ends this fine side, and the guitar playing and backing vocals are just great, they compliment Gene so much.
The B-Side opens with the track “The Call” – and it’s a decent country track, not too slow, not too fast, but performed perfectly. Great way to open the B-Side. Next up is the song “She Walks Alone” and it’s a great track, with some fast parts and some slow parts, and it’s a great track, the faster parts are what really get me, it’s actually the chorus that picks up. This guys voice is absolutely great, he feels what he sings, and it’s just beautiful! Then comes the track “Hard As I Try” and it’s a good track, a bit slow, but overall, still works really well with the album and song flow. “Snowbird” comes next, and it’s another great track, the string arrangements and the harmonica playing are great together. Everything here is fantastic! The album closes with the song “On the Banks of a Daydream” which, the opening musicianship is absolutely fantastic, this mans vocals are superb, and I’m absolutely in love with this LP! Fantastic!
A1 – Face in the Mirror
A2 – Death of the Black Donnellys
A3 – Pages of Time
A4 – Thorn in My Shoe
A5 – What Can You Do
A6 – The Robin
B1 – The Call
B2 – She Walks Alone
B3 – Hard As I Try
B4 – Snowbird
B5 – On the Banks of a Daydream
ST – 6348
Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Producer & Arranger – Brian & Trish Ahern
Executive Producer – Paul White
Engineers – Les Ladd, Lee Hazen, Rick Horton, Gene Eichelberger & Bill Connor
String Arrangements – Cliff Parman
Guitars – Fred Carter, Jr., Bill Sanford, Brian Ahern, Tommy Graham & Kelso Herston
Piano – Pig Robbins & B.G. Cruiser
Percussion – Willy Ackerman
Banjo – Bobby Thompson
Bass – Norbert Putman
Harmonica – Charley McCoy & Jimmy Riddle
Steel – Lloyd Green
Chorus – Nashville Edition
Special Thanks – Jack McAndrew, Gary Buck, Kelso Herston & Michael Stanbury
Liner Notes – Jack McAndrew
Illustration – Will Davies
Back Cover – George Herbert
Other Albums I Own by Gene MacLellan:
Other Albums I Own That Gene MacLellan Appears On: