Waterfront Station – Dave Friend/Shael Wrinch/Paul Harder
Well if you’re into some soul, jazzy. bluesy and rocked up funk this is an album that certainly ticks all the right boxes for your particular taste and delivers it in style. It also comes right out of the heart of Vancouver in Canada where waterfront station is located. Although the music we have here does not quite date back to the 1920’s when that smashing picture was taken that graces the albums front cover, and is perhaps more along the lines of bands such as Chicago, The Average White Band and Steely Dan who’s music was gracing our ears back in the 70’s.
The album Waterfront Station was released at the end of last year and is an album that cumulates some of the hard work that Dave Friend has put into writing the material over the past 3 years or more. I first stumbled across Dave Friend back in 2012 on Soundcloud and I can tell you that both the music he plays and his production work is amongst the finest on the cloud, and no doubt this album does come with a solid production, and sounds really GREAT!.
Dave Friend is no stranger to working with many GREAT! musicians and doing collaborations with them and working on other projects. Sun Tower was perhaps his main project to which was very much a 3 piece outfit that wrote some pretty darn fine songs together to which they all took part in the production side of things. They was a very fine soft rock band that I have been a fan of since I heard them and are well worth checking out. Both Shael Wrinch and Bruce Warren were very much part of that line up and about 5 years ago it was unfortunate that Bruce Warren moved to America to take up an executive position with Microsoft, which put a damper on things.
Since those days Dave has very much worked with many other musicians on Soundcloud and as been involved in many collaborations and other projects such as another fine project he did with Kevin Sumner. Between the two of them they wrote some well good rocked up blues songs under the name of Hog Iron. He has also done a lot of impressive collaborations with Greg Hurley too, and pretty much everything Dave Friend has been involved in is very impressive I will say.
Waterfront Station is something a bit different and all the material on the album was written by Dave himself. He roped in his old friend Shael Wrinch from Sun Tower and another guy who showed a lot of interest in his music namely a saxophonist who goes by the name of Paul Harder, and here we have another fine 3 piece outfit strutting their stuff in GREAT! style. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The CD comes in a very well made and nicely presented DigiSleeve that houses both the CD and booklet in side slip pockets. The Booklet itself is only a gatefold, but nevertheless does contain all the lyrics and linear production notes, plus some very useful background information. Although 300 copies of the CD have been pressed, they have not been made widely available and some have been placed in local stores around Dave’s home town.
Being busy with his own full time job and his family he has had very little time to really promote the album. Though the album has been made more internationally available in the form of a digital download and can be obtained at many online stores such as iTunes and Amazon. I was very lucky and fortunate enough to receive my CD as a gift and feel very honoured and privileged to receive a copy.
The album covers artwork is an old photograph that was taken in 1923 of Waterfront Station that was provided by the Vancouver Archives that are in public domain. It also contains quite a few more old snapshots from around the 20’s and 30’s around Vancouver. You will also notice that the name of the artists have been omitted from the album cover, though the album is credited to all 3 artists. I am pretty sure they was not mistakenly left off the cover, and my guess is that the album was originally intended to be credited to Dave himself has he wrote all the material.
Another indication as to why I feel that this is Dave’s solo album, is that on the back of the booklet it contains a bit of a biography about himself. Though knowing how thoughtful Dave is and aware of the GREAT! contributions that both Shael and Paul had contributed to the album. It would of been impossible to of left them out.
The Album In Review…
Waterfront Station by Dave Friend, Shael Wrinch, Paul Harder was released on the 17th December 2018. The album contains 14 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 56 minutes and 41 seconds and I can tell you that its Funky Delicious!. The album contains a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks, judging by the titles of some of the tracks in particular you also get the feeling that there is a bit of a concept thing going on based around Vancouver and its suburbs. Though the lyrics do also delve into political and other goings on around other countries as well.
No doubt most of the places would of inspired Dave to write about having lived and grew up around these parts and he’s seen a lot of good and bad things going on during his lifetime like most of us. But it was back in 2015 when Dave first collaborated with Paul Harder on the instrumental track “Waterfront Station” a piece that Dave himself was well happy with how it all came out that really ignited the spark enough for him to continue his work with Harder and make an album.
The style of funk music on the album is very much oldschool and sounds like it came out of the 70’s. Being born in the late 50’s myself, the 70’s is really the decade that appeals to my personal taste the most, and most of the time I still very much live in it :)))) especially regarding my own personal taste of music. But personally I would feel that the music we have here would certainly hit the spot with many more people with its funky jazzy and more popular style, and in particular how well it’s delivered which is really very close nit and tight.
Musicians & Credits…
Produced mixed and mastered by Dave Friend. All music & lyrics written by Dave Friend. Recorded sometime between 2015 – 2018. Photographs from the public domain in Vancouver’s archives circa 1920’s and 1930’s.
Dave Friend: Guitars – Bass – Electric Piano – Drum Programming.
Shael Wrinch: Vocals – Backing Vocals – Hammond B3 Organ – Percussion.
Paul Harder: Saxophones.
Bill Zickmantel: Bass Guitar (Track 7).
The Album Tracks In Review…
There is no doubt that the material written for Waterfront Station certainly has more funk to it than Dave Friend’s earlier project Sun Tower to which was more aimed at the softer side of rock with its more ballad ESC style. You still have Shael Wrinch’s fine voice here, but it’s perhaps the presence of Paul Harder’s sax that fits in more into this whole funky outfit to make it work so well to go down this road with this line up.
No doubt most bands would have perhaps more of a brass or horn section in their line up to achieve this amount funky goodness, and even bands like the Average White Band had quite a brass section of session musicians playing on their smash hit “Pick Up The Pieces” way back in 1974. But Harder’s work on this album really bridges that gap and makes it work superbly.
Funk music goes back to the 60’s and although I once read or seen a documentary stating that it was Joe Walsh who created it when he was with the James Gang and came out with “Funk 48” back in 1969, I rather think it goes back earlier than that, and perhaps to the Godfather of funk himself who was certainly James Brown. Although he also injected quite a bit of soul into it as well.
Over the years we have seen a few styles of funk music, and in the 90’s we got to see another really GREAT! band called the Spin Doctors give it a new twist and spin with their much fresher approach to it all. Although the style of funk we get here with the album Waterfront Station is definitely more of your oldschool that harks back to the 70’s I would say. So now let’s take a look a the individual tracks and see how it all takes shape and works out.
Track 1. Terminal City.
The album kicks off with the first of the 5 instrumental tracks that are placed throughout the album. It’s title can be seen as many things and even the city of Vancouver is also nicknamed after it. But it can also be a station such as Waterfront Station and most bus, train and even airport terminals can also be very busy and plenty of activity can be seen buzzing around such places. A terminal can also be seen as the end of the line where passengers have to get off and have reached their destination.
Interestingly enough Vancouver also has a women’s flat track roller derby league, and a team called the Terminal City Rollergirls. Musically the piece very much displays the busy activity of all these places the way it meanders and weaves itself along. The music is mainly structured around a guitar riff that has quite an hook which enables the other passengers or other elements of instrumentation to fit in very comfortably and smooth and iron things out a lot more.
For example you have this raunchy guitar riff with the lead and slide guitar lines playing more of a dynamic role making a statement every now and then, the sax also can play it’s role in places too adding to the dynamics. But both the sax and the rhythm guitar play more of a smoother role and irons out all the edges very well, whilst the bass and drums keep everything nice and tight and in place.
This particular track only features Friend and Harder and gets the album off to quite a flying and very promising start and engages the listeners attention very well with all the fine detail they have put into the piece.
Track 2. Virtual Battlefield.
A song that I suppose could pertain to gossip that so easily can be exaggerated that confronts us from day to day. Whether it be in a working environment or in a bar socialising there is no doubt political matters, the news and even fake news and conspiracies will at some point get on everyone’s tits so to speak, and that is what this virtual battle could be very much pertaining too.
Shael Wrinch provides us with the vocals and backing vocals and his voice instantly reminds me of the former band he was in with Friend namely Sun Tower. This particular song is perhaps also more suited to the style of that old band too.
Musically the bass guitar works wonders on this particular track and contributes a lot to its tightness and groove along with the drums. Harder’s sax plays more of a minimalistic role, but pops up in all the right places and contributes more of a dominant lead role in the little musical interlude breaks. I would also say that the guitar pretty much works its way into the song in the same manner too, and it’s a cracking little number and contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 3. Life Lives On.
The pace simmers down a notch but in fine style and this next track features some wonderful guitar work from Friend and Harder’s sax contributes not only some fine lead lines, but also punctuates and stabs its way along in parts to act like an horn section. Wrinch’s vocals do the business as ever and he also contributes a bit of percussion to the song too. The lyrical content we have here pertains to how the economic system no longer works between private parties, especially with how the government pokes its nose and interferes with economies and businesses these days.
Track 4. Granville Street.
The second of the instrumental tracks on the album and once again the tempo is back up and this one swings into action in very fine funky style indeed. Just like the opening track on the album “Terminal City” we have another quite busy place here, and “Granville Street” is very much a major street in Vancouver and part of Highway 99 which is also known as the Fraser Delta Thruway south of Vancouver, and the Sea to Sky Highway, the Squamish Highway, or Whistler Highway north of Vancouver. No doubt that highway is on more than the road to hell by the sounds of things there :)))))))).
Though as you can see by the photo above Granville Street is most often associated with the Granville Entertainment District and the Granville Mall. It’s filled with nightclubs and bars and it looks like you could have a GREAT! night out on the town here, it would also be GREAT! if you could swing into one of its clubs and catch these three guys knocking out this GREAT! tune live on stage. It really is a fabulous track that captures the swings and moods of it’s bustling nightlife and is very much another one of my contenders for the top spot on the album.
Track 5. Flip Side.
Speaking of contenders for the top spot on the album, the “Flip Side” is very much my personal favourite track on the album and merits the top spot award. The funky goodness is in full swing and flow here and it’s quite a catchy little number that instantly grabs hold of you with its funky hook and its rhythmic riff. Paul Harder’s sax is working as hard as the whole horn section did on The Average White Band’s smash hit “Pick Up The Pieces“. In some ways it reminds me of that smash hit with how it grooves along, and no doubt this could easily be the track on the album to put out as a single. I dare say back in the 70’s this could of also have been a smash hit. Check it out for yourself here on Youtube.
The song itself does have a bit more going on in comparison to “Pick Up The Pieces” particularly with its changes. It’s also got a very tasty guitar and sax solo too. I love the energy you get in a song like this and it very much drives along in a way that its always on the GO! sort of thing. You could dance yourself away merrily and happily whilst working to this song and it would very much cheer you up and make your day. It’s a GREAT! song for the car too, and I could quite easily put this on repeat for a couple of hours and not get fed up of it, and simply run along with its hook and groove.
Track 6. Routine Conflict.
Once again Friend, Wrinch and Harder turn up the heat in fine style and this is a song that’s words are based around the type of conflicts that can cause violence and riots, not just in the way the picture I chose above either, which happens to be from the Stanley Cup. But conflicts can arise from all sorts of avenues including political and even religious disagreements, and those are really what this song is perhaps more directed at and pertaining too. Like most of the lyrics on this album they are quite minimalistic but very well thought out and well written.
“Routine Conflict” has to be another one of the many GREAT! tracks on this album and is very much another contender for the top spot on the album. It features some really GREAT! guitar and bass work from Friend, and Harder’s sax playing is immaculate as ever, whilst Wrinch does the Bizzo! delivering the vocals and harmonies with his GREAT! voice. These guys really are cooking on gas and they sound as tight as Steely Dan. I suppose being as they are from Canada I could say they are as tight as a bears arse and play as sweet as maple syrup, and these guys certainly have got the FUNK OUT!.
Track 7. Don’t Say Nothin’.
The album continues to flow along in fine style and “Don’t Say Nothin’” runs at a steady smooth pace and has quite a funky hook, swing and groove to it. It also features Bill Zickmantel on bass guitar who makes his only contribution to the album on this track, and along the other 3 guys he slots into place very well indeed. There is some more gorgeous sax work from Harder on this one, and these guys really do things in GREAT! style and it’s another GREAT! and worthy contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 8. Here For Now.
Well if the last song was about being stuck in an hard place and was best to do or say nothin’. This one is perhaps about accepting the situation of where we are for now and getting on with it. I suppose in some way’s both songs could relate to certain things that go on in the world that are not acceptable and putting up with them till it’s time to move on. Once again the guys swing into the action with the groove from the bass line, and we get some more great solos from the guitars and sax.
Track 9. Metrotown.
Next up we have another one of the instrumental tracks, and this one happens to be the longest track on the album clocking in at 5 minutes and 1 second. Metrotown is a major connection point for the TransLink bus routes in southern Vancouver and Burnaby.
It has an elevated train known as Sky Train (pictured above) which is perhaps a bit like the one that opened in my own town of Birmingham back in 1984 to which was the first of its kind in the world. Back then it was called Maglev and the one over here connects Birmingham International Railway Station to the Birmingham’s International Airport. These days its known as Sky Rail and I am pretty sure that it’s original name of Maglev was used because the train is powered by magnets.
Metrotown is also one of the city’s four officially designated town centres, as well as one of Metro Vancouver’s regional town centres so it’s very much another very busy bustling place. There is no doubt that pretty much all the instrumental pieces on this album very much stand out and work very well aptly to the places they are portraying. It’s like making a bold statement without needing any words to do so, or even Wrinch’s GREAT! voice for that matter. Though his contribution to the many songs on the album are also a very important ingredient of what makes an album like this work so well too.
“Metrotown” has to be another contender for the album’s top spot and both Friend and Harder are very much laying on the funk in superb style. It’s very well worthy of giving it a blast here on this video to hear for yourself.
Track 10. How Many Times.
The band rock it up a bit more with “How Many Times” and the lyrics we have here are pertaining to how life can be taken away from us especially through the lack of negligence that goes on in this world, which could pertain to many things such as the gun laws in America for example amongst many other things. Sometimes even I get the feeling that the world is being run by machines rather than intelligent human beings. How many times does it take for anything to sink into their tiny puny brains. I am pretty sure that is the message that’s being driven along here and once again they are doing it in GREAT! style.
Track 11. Gassy Jack.
All 3 of the guys contribute to this next instrumental piece and Wrinch plays Hammond on this one and they are all cooking on GAS very much so with the Funky Goodness. Though the gas in this piece does have a bit of history behind it, and his in fact about a person whose name was John Deighton who was originally from Hull here in England and was given the nickname John “Gassy Jack” Deighton back in the 19th century. Here is the very chap pictured below.
Deighton was known as Gassy Jack because of his talkative nature and his penchant for storytelling rather than somebody who ate baked beans and spilled them out of his backside :)))))). He spent the last few years of his life running a bar in Gastown in Vancouver and the name stuck with him around that particular area. That much that they even built a statue of him and he’s popular with many tourists.
Musically the piece is structured around the swinging guitar rhythm and everything else punctuates and evolves its way magically around it all, and the guys really swing their away around the barrel on this one.
Track 12. Nasty Biz.
The nasty biz behind the subject here started in North Korea with Kim Il-sung back in the mid 50’s but can even been seen going back further to Marxism–Leninism and is a portal of communism and socialism and over the years can even be seen more as a religious cult. However you look at it, it’s all very much nasty biz and the guys weave, groove and meander their way along superbly on this one. The song has a great change in the middle section to allow for Friend’s guitar solo and Harder ends it off in style with his sax solo at the end too. It’s very much another cracking song that is another fine contender for the top spot.
Tracks 13. Promises.
The guys rock it out in a very smooth flowing way here with “Promises” and I have to say all the songs on this album have been very skilfully arranged for 3 members to play their part in it all, and this is another quality well written song that displays all the fine attributes that all 3 of the musicians contribute to making it work so well. I would not put my faith in any of the promises a politician would deliver, but what I will say what these guys deliver is certainly more promising and this is another GORGEOUS! track that cooks on the right GAS! and not the shit Vladimir Putin was playing with.
Track 14. Waterfront Station.
The final track on the album is the albums self titled track and is another Funky Delicious instrumental track. Waterfront Station was opened August 1, 1914. The station was designed by Toronto-based architects Barott, Blackader and Webster, with building costs reaching $1 million. The building was refurbished from 1976 to 1978, transforming Waterfront Station into the transportation hub it is today.
There are many shops and services that support the station and in 1987 the very first Starbucks outside the USA found its way here. It’s also said that Ghosts even reside at the station according the security guards on the late shift, and it’s also known as one of the most haunted places in Vancouver. Though I doubt that they came for the Coffee :))))). It could be that they were hoping to catch the Sky Train to heaven :)))).
The piece kicks off on the guitar in a very Plucky style with it’s opening riff, and it picks up the other pieces of instrumentation very well with how they all wrap their way around it all. It starts to open up and develop its way along superbly with its funky style, the combination of the guitars and sax from Friend and Harder do the BIZ! as usual and even Wrinch adds a nice touch of flavour to it on the Hammond.
It’s another contender for the top spot on the album and well worthy of giving it a spin here on the Tube to put yourself in the GROOVE! and puts an end to what can only be a superb album.
To sum up Waterfront Station by David Friend, Shael Wrinch, Paul Harder. I would say that if you are looking for something that feels and sounds like something new and fresh, this album is not going to give you that by any means. However even though the music we have here is very much oldschool and sounds like it came out of the 70’s. It can very much revive and revitalise a lot of the really GREAT! Funky Goodness that came out of that decade and bring it back to life with how well the material has been written and played precisely. The material is highly original, and they have very much put their own stamp and edge with how its been so precisely delivered.
To put it in a nutshell, this sounds like an album and a band that came from the 70’s, and it is like stumbling across a lost GEM from that decade. The production values alone speaks highly for itself, and it sounds very much like the album was produced by a top professional producer and engineer who knew precisely what he wanted it to sound like. Regardless of if you have this album on CD or as digital download, the sound quality is to die for, and you will hear all the dynamics from the instruments with how well its been recorded. You are getting 100% quality bang on for your buck here without a doubt.
My personal highlights of the best tracks from the album are as follows: “Flip Side“. “Metrotown“. “Routine Conflict“. “Granville Street“. “Virtual Battlefield“. “Don’t Say Nothin’“. “Nasty Biz” and “Waterfront Station“. Although this is an album I could of easily have chosen all 14 tracks, simply because there is not a bad track on the album and its pretty much a solid one at that.
In conclusion of my review of the album Waterfront Station. I personally think that if bands like Chicago, The Average White Band and Steely Dan rock your boat, you cannot go wrong here. The music you get here does very much have a funky, jazzy and even soft rock ballad ESC! feel to it in parts, which very much gives it their own distinctive approach and style to it all. I have nothing but praise for the production and these are pretty much excellent musicians who have a very good head on their shoulders and this album is nothing short of CLASS!.
The album is on many streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and other places so that you can listen to it for free. It’s also available to purchase in the form of a digital download on many world wide Amazon stores and other places such as Google Play and iTunes and here on Amazon UK its currently priced up at £7.99. You might also find it slightly cheaper on other stores as well. But the album is well worthy of its price point and I think is well worthy of buying to support the artist as well, especially for something of this quality.
Waterfront Station is very much an album that contains everything I have said about it, and is simply Funky Delicious!. It Grooves! and ROCKS! in all the right places and its as tight as BEARS ARSE! and as SWEET AS MAPLE SYRUP!. It’s well worthy of adding to your collection and is worthy and deservedly of a lot more attention.
You can listen to all the tracks for free on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I75sS6xdmDk&list=OLAK5uy_m8VBLQkkzRyj6gpn9ng7PVSrJ0QmTmLpc
You can also purchase the album from here: https://www.amazon.com/Waterfront-Station-Friend-Wrinch-Harder/dp/B07LFMCQY3
Stuck In An Hard Place Between A Criminal And A Man From Outer Space…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Terminal City. 3:47.
02. Virtual Battlefield. 3:14.
03. Life Lives On. 3:49.
04. Granville Street. 3:53.
05. Flip Side. 3:23.
06. Routine Conflict. 4:18.
07. Don’t Say Nothin’. 4:31.
08. Here For Now. 4:21.
09. Metrotown. 5:01.
10. How Many Times. 3:43.
11. Gassy Jack. 4:35.
12. Nasty Biz. 4:00.
13. Promises. 4:07.
14. Waterfront Station. 3:59.