It all began in the summer of 1984 when a band from Newmarket, Ontario called Tokyo spent two evenings opening for Boy George and Culture Club at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. Their dynamic, original sound captured the moment of the mid 80’s and led them to signing a record deal with Capitol Records. Tokyo officially became Glass Tiger.
Glass Tiger’s first album The Thin Red Line set a record for being the fastest selling debut recording in Canadian history, going gold within weeks of its release. Following this, the bands next two albums Diamond Sun and Simple Mission, solidified their reputation as being one of Canada’s better song crafters. Having toured with international music legends like Tina Turner in Europe, the ever popular Journey (with Steve Perry) in America and Roxette throughout Europe and Canada, Glass Tiger is still going strong, 31 years later.
With their latest album 31, Glass Tiger is now into the fourth decade of a phenomenal music career. Recorded in Nashville by fellow Canadian entertainer Johnny Reid, Glass Tiger was guided back to the songs that originally made them stars in Canada and beyond. Just as remarkable, the core band members have maintained a brotherhood built on respect and friendship throughout that journey. Today the band includes original members Alan Frew on vocals and guitar, Sam Reid on keyboards, Al Connelly on guitar, and Wayne Parker on bass, as well as longtime drummer Chris McNeill who joined in 2000.
While nearly all the songs featured on 31 are familiar, it isn’t exactly a greatest hits album. Sam Reid says, “What we did in Nashville is completely top-down, what I call the campfire test. The campfire test is if it lives with a vocal and an acoustic guitar, then that’s a great sign. We sat around the kitchen table and worked all the songs from that angle.”
Originally, the members of Glass Tiger hoped to write and record an album of all-new material to coincide with the 30th anniversary of their landmark debut album, The Thin Red Line. However, that ambitious project was put on hold to allow Frew to recover from a stroke in 2015. Deciding that Frew’s health was more important then anything they could be working on, they put the album on hold. As Sam Reid explains, “Well, we’ll call the album 31, because 31 is when we’re back.”
Across 31, there’s a stronger Celtic influence than on Glass Tiger’s previous albums, although that influence has always been present, says Sam Reid. He also credits Frew’s distinct vocal as one of the Glass Tiger’s most consistent threads across multiple decades. Looking ahead, Reid believes the new music will be able to combine the dazzling pop styles that solidified the band’s reputation as well as the more acoustic approach that listeners will discover on 31.
“We had so much fun doing this album,” says Sam Reid. “I mean we’re a rock band. Even if we’re getting a little older, we don’t want to mellow out. We still love cranking it up, so I think the records will still have an edge to them, but they’ll always have a tinge of where we’re at right now.”