Colin Arthur: Livin On Dreams
Reviewed by Mark Doble, B.Mus.
There is a great CD thats available by Colin Arthur Wiebe called "Livin On Dreams". Many will recall that Colin played keyboards and guitar in Randy Bachmans band from 1993 through early 2000. In addition, while on tour Colin would be called upon to sing the lead vocals on the Guess Who numbers that Randy would include in the set. Colins vocal range is strong and he was able to give credible renderings on tunes like Undun and These Eyes.
As the band evolved, Randy was convinced to bring Colins long time friend and former Guess Who member himself, Donnie McDougall into the fold to play bass guitar and sing. This band was able to produce a solid performance nightly of Guess Who and BTO classics and became a strong draw for audiences in Western Canada and Northern U.S. throughout the late 1990s.
It is from this rich musical environment, that Colins first CD emerged. A long time Guess Who fan himself, he was able to enlist Randy Bachman to produce and play guitar, Donnie to sing harmonies and play guitar and ultimately to draft Guess Who drummer Garry Peterson to play on the CD. The results are a stunning collection of 11 tracks that evoke numerous references to both The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive that will satisfy almost any fan of either group. (Think Canned Wheat crossed with Artificial Paradise and seasoned with BTO II)
The CD starts with "Pebble In My Shoe", an up tempo "new country" rocker in which Colin immediately establishes his own voice through a strong performance over top Randys characteristic guitar.
"Your Only One" features a beautiful vocal duet with Donnie McDougall that evokes the old #10 LP with a balanced mix of electric and acoustic instrumentation.
Donnies vocals add much to the CD and particularly on "One Eye Open" that starts out with a definitive Bachman guitar riff but quickly transforms itself with Doobie Brother like chord changes. Randys solo is outstanding but it is the perfect blend of Colin and Donnies voices that make this piece a success.
There are flat-out rockers like "Rhythm of Love" and "Dead End Road" that would have sounded perfect on either of the first 2 BTO LPs (Only Colin sings better!). Both numbers are Bachman collaborations, and Randys control of the entire project is most apparent on these songs.
There is a homage to the Guess Who classic "No Time" in a Arthur/Bachman venture entitled "Time For You". In the liner notes, Colin acknowledges that the beginning of the song was intended by Randy to be a sort of "follow-up" to "No Time". Colin helped finish the song and Garry added his "signature" beat to the opening that every fan will instantly recognize.
Throughout the collaborations, Colin proves to be an excellent songwriter. Randy, Donnie and Garrys impact is easily identified on the CD. Classic Guess Who harmonies permeate the various songs. However what makes this a truly powerful recording is the vocal performance of Colin Arthur. On ballads such as "They Grow Up So Fast" (The original single featuring a duet with country artist Suzanne Gitzi), and "Blue Lovers Moon" (Sung with McDougall), Arthur proves that he is a uniquely gifted singer with a voice of his own. These are songs that one could easily imagine Burton Cummings singing but few others would be capable.
As if to emphasize this point, the final and title-track, "Livin On Dreams" showcases Colins songwriting and impressive voice in a powerful and compelling musical statement that despite the influences on the previous songs is entirely his own as he describes in words and music the wonder and courage of his ancestors who came to this continent. Musically, the song builds from start to finish and is propelled by a driving and stylish percussion, as well as Colins crisp, clear vocals and a soaring Randy Bachman lead guitar solo.
Although a worthy first effort, "Livin On Dreams" sounds like anything but a debut recording. Colin Arthur is clearly an artist with a mature and seasoned musical voice that truly deserves to be heard. I heartily recommend that Guess Who and BTO fans check out this disc. You will not be disappointed.
See Session Photos!