Vocalist Alan Frew has been making music for the better part of three decades now. Since first rising to national and international prominence as a part of Canadian pop band Glass Tiger in the mid-80’s, Frew has since gone on to be a public speaker and author of the best-selling book The Action Sandwich – A Six Step Recipe To Success By Doing What You’re Already Doing.
It could be argued that it is in music where Frew found his calling, however.
As a part of Glass Tiger, Frew has won five Juno Awards, received a Grammy Award nomination, and has also earned the distinction of having five Canadian Classic Awards, which recognizes songs that have been played more than 100,000 times on Canadian radio.
Frew released his first solo effort, Hold On, in 1994, followed by Wonderland in 2000. In 2010, he co-wrote “I Believe,” the theme song for CTV’s coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games along with Stephan Moccio, and would go on to pen songs for Canadian country start Johnny Reid and others.
As one could determine from the title of Frew’s latest solo effort, 80290 Rewind, the album is a throwback to some of his favourite songs from the 80’s. In addition to an updated version of the Glass Tiger hit “Someday,” Frew tackles a collection of hits from yesteryear, delivering faithful versions of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Paul Young’s “Every Time You Go Away,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” from Yes, John Waite’s “Missing You” and Thompson Twins’ 1983 hit “Hold Me Now.”
“I am probably never going to see the lights of the contemporary music charts ever again; it’s just a fact facing a lot of Canadian artists like myself, Platinum Blonde and Honeymoon Suite. What really drove me to do an album of songs that come from the 80’s though is that I believe it’s an era that is on the verge of classic status. It’s one of the few remaining musical eras where the songwriting, and the presentation of the songs themselves not only still seemed to matter, but also transcended generations,” Frew says.
“At Glass Tiger shows in the 80’s, you could bring the entire family out to the show, and people did. It was completely normal to see a parent or grandparent standing alongside the younger fans.”
Helping bring Frew’s vision to life on 80290 Rewind were producers Jason Murray and Sean Andrews in addition to Matchbox 20 guitarist Kyle Cook. Going into the sessions, Frew shares that he wasn’t initially sold on including a Glass Tiger song on the record, but that it was the others involved in the project, namely Cook, that inspired him to want to reinterpret “Someday.”
“When I was meeting the musicians for the first time, Kyle was particularly enthusiastic about that song. I wasn’t necessarily against including a Glass Tiger song, I just thought it would be great to give it a bit of a different feel.”
Once the initial recording sessions for 80290 Rewind wrapped up in Nashville, Frew decamped to his home studio in Ontario to put the finishing touches on his vocal tracks. As the sessions were winding down late last summer, tragedy struck the singer when he suffered a stroke in his sleep, leaving him temporarily paralyzed on the right side of his body.
“My entire career flashed before my eyes. I cried for three days straight,” Frew says. “When you go from living your life one day to suddenly needing assistance to get up to go to the washroom, you can’t help but feel pathetic and sorry for yourself.”
Although he has mostly recovered from that life-changing event, Frew acknowledges that he is continuing to deal with residual effects from the stroke.
Frew is nothing but determined to emerge the victor from this battle, however.
“I have pain throughout my right arm, which makes strumming guitar painful, and I still have a partial loss of vision in my right eye, but I realized I can’t let this define me. I had my pity party, and now I have to get up and get on with my life.”
What: Alan Frew with special guests Dominique Dupuis and George Belliveau et la GB Band
When: Friday July 1, 6 p.m.
Where: Riverfront Park, Downtown Moncton