By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
GLASS TIGER – THE THIN RED LINE (1986)
It might be tempting to dismiss the Canadian band Glass Tiger as a one hit wonder of a pop group if the only thing you’ve ever heard from them was their big hit single “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”.
While that song went to #1 in Canada and #2 in the US, it is pretty much the only song you might hear on any radio station these days.
I know that I’m guilty of enjoying the song and never investigating the band any further. But in getting ready to write this article, I finally got a chance to listen to the album in full and was rather shocked to discover that Glass Tiger’s debut album The Thin Red Line is far more than just one hit single.
In fact, I’d venture to say that while there are two true pop songs (Side Two’s #7 hit single “Someday” being the other hit single), the band has more of a rock and roll feel to the material on the album than a pop sensibility.
Officially there were five singles released from The Thin Red Line but three of them made no real mark on the charts. However, I think that’s actually a bonus for my purposes.
The title track leads off the album and it immediately struck me that it was a song you couldn’t expect to hear from “just a pop group”. There’s definitely a hook to the song’s music but nothing that would make you think of it a straight forward pop track. There’s a really cool tone to the song that initially threw off my admittedly preconceived notions for the album.
The song “Closer To You” was the only track I felt didn’t quite hit the mark. It starts out intriguingly enough but never fully captured my interest.
But with uptempo tracks like “Vanishing Tribe” and “Looking At A Picture”, I found myself investing a lot of attention to what was going on with the album’s tracks. While “Vanishing Tribe” has a great sound to it, I thought “Looking At A Picture” had a slightly darker tone to the music at the start of the song. That kind of atmospheric feel lights as the song goes on but it did give me the notion that the song was far deeper than just what you hear on the surface of it.
I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the ever so brief introductory piece “The Secret” was but the start of the 2nd side of the album could’ve done without it. Once that is over, the rest of the songs reinforce the feeling I got from Side One. “Ancient Evenings” is pretty damn entertaining and the album closing “You’re What I Look For” ends things in a fast moving manner.
But the songs I really got into the most on this side was “I Will Be There” (a song that featured a huge sound and a solidly driving rhythm to it) and “Ecstasy” which might just be my personal favorite track on the entire album.
It’s true that I had the preconceived idea that listening to this Glass Tiger album would find me thinking of them as a kind of Canadian version of Duran Duran or something. So you can probably imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to discover that the band actually had far more in common with the rock and roll sound I have spent most of my life passionately exploring. The Thin Red Line is definitely an album worth taking a chance on. I think you’ve got a very nice surprise just waiting for you to discover it.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The Thin Red Line was a huge hit for the band. It helped them win three Juno Awards in 1986 including Album of the Year and Song of the Year. It went quadruple platinum in Canada and gold in the US. The album was produced by Jim Vallance and featured Bryan Adams on backing vocals for “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” and “I Will Be There”
In 2012, the album was reissued with a second disc that included remixes, live cuts, demos and more.
The band is still active today. Their lineup has remained largely intact, having only changed drummers once and that was in 2003. They’ve released five studio albums, a live disc and three compilation albums since 1986.