Glass Tiger has entered its third decade as a band and earlier this year the Canadian pop group marked that milestone with a reimagining of its most notable works.
In February the band – Keyboardist Sam Reid, vocalist Alan Frew, guitarist Al Connelly, bassist Wayne Parker and drummer Chris McNeill – released 31, an album of rerecorded hits and originals that gives a nod to the 31 years since Glass Tiger released its multiple-Juno Award winning debut album, The Thin Red Line, which produced the hit song Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).
Sam said the original intention was to release an album to coincide with the 30th anniversary, but plans were put on hold as Frew recovered from a stroke in 2015. It was at this time that country singer Johnny Reid reached out to Frew and suggested the band celebrate his recovery.
“It was Johnny who planted the idea, ‘Don’t worry about chasing your 30th anniversary. Get together and let’s re-envision some of these songs that are like old friends and family and celebrate just being together, family and brotherhood,’” Sam said.
With that the band went down to Johnny’s Nashville home to write and record the new album. Every morning the band would meet in the kitchen and get to work. Surrounded by acoustic instruments and a piano in the corner, the band would hash out new arrangements.
“That process was very strange at first, I have to admit,” Sam said. “Thankfully we got to know Johnny and got to trust his intuition. He’s a very talented songwriter and producer and performer so he just always said to us, ‘Have an open mind. There’s no point in us doing these songs and just jukebox-ing them.’”
Guests vocalists on the album include John Lennon’s son, Julian, and there are also multilingual contributions from Inuk singer Susan Aglukark and French singer Véronic DiCaire. Johnny appears on a new song, the Celtic-inspired Wea Yer Family.
This year the band has been bringing those new arrangements on the road. Today they begin their B.C. leg in Vernon and on Nov. 10 Glass Tiger performs at the Port Theatre.
Sam said 31 would not have been possible without Johnny.
“We just allowed him the freedom to direct us with that and I don’t think it would have ever come from us internally because we’ve had 30 years of doing it one way,” he said. “And we had the trust factor so we just let him steer it along and we ended up with some unusual arrangements, but fun arrangements. And [it’s] amazing, when you keep the melody and the lyric, how you can morph the song.”
WHAT’S ON … Glass Tiger performs at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. All seats $47.50.