Proudly Canadian: Shooter


Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Credit: The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia

Following a successful run as the rowdy and raucous 1950's styled Greaseball Boogie Band - who were known as a cover band - they were nominated 'Most Promising Band' at the 1974 Juno Awards for their self-titled double album debut for GRT. As a follow-up, label owner Ross Reynolds wanted to get the band some legitimate hits of their own by incorporating music by contemporary songwriters. Reynolds offered up a song by Allan Nichols while producer Ralph Murphy suggested Leo Sayer's tried, but ultimately unsuccessful five minute acoustic opus, "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)".

Recording commenced with Doug Riley and Terry Brown's Dr. Music production company at Eastern Sound which was produced by Ralph Murphy and featured the help of engineer Steve Vaughan (The Hunt, Klaatu) and Terry Brown (Klaatu, Rush, Max Webster). During early sessions in 1974 Harrison brought in his old Crowbar bandmate Bernardi to replace Breckels while Hodgeson was replaced by Wellbanks.

The band realized mid-stream that they couldn't go back out playing the new material as the Greaseball Boogie Band and decided to take the over-indulgent Vegas style of disco acts and dig back into the WWII catalog of 1940's swing and big-band music to the extreme. They hired three singers from Winnipeg, The Murphy Sisters, to add a certain Andrews Sisters touch to the backing vocals and changed their name to the Shooter Revue. Their new image was one of Depression Era gangsters complete with real guns as stage props and the arrival of the band at gigs in a 1935 Chevy.

That summer they played at Toronto's Varsity Stadium supplying a 20 minute opening musical warm-up for a speech by, then, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The producer who had arranged the event later approached them to write a song for and appear as extras in a television bipoc on the CBC about gangster John Dillinger's accomplice Alvin "Creepy" Carpis.

Meanwhile, Murphy took the Sayer song and produced a new, shorter, more commercial sounding arrangement to go on the album. He took the recording of that to MIDEM, France in January of 1975 to try and work a distribution deal for the band internationally. Upon bumping into Leo Sayer and his manager Adam Faith, Murphy played them the track for fun. After returning to Canada, Sayer spent a small fortune re-recording the song with the identical arrangement to Murphy's. It was rush released in the United States at a reported cost of nearly $100,000.

With a new name and the clock ticking on Sayer's version of "Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)" threatening to spill over into Canada, GRT Records ran with Shooter's version at Canadian radio in March 1975 and managed to land a certified chart hit with the song reaching #6 on the CHUM Chart. 

The second Sayer song, "Train", featuring backing vocals by Laurie Hood (Sugar Shoppe, Klaatu) was released in October 1975 making it to #23 on the CHUM charts. 

The third single - Neil Sedaka's "Standing on the Inside" - did not chart, but 1976's "Hard Times" managed to hit #83 on the RPM Top 100 Singles chart.

With the demise of GRT in 1978, Shooter was label-less and moved over to Casino Records where they returned to Eastern Sound to record the follow-up album 'Reloaded' with a reconfigured line-up featuring the addition of Joe Ress, Lance Wright and J.P. Bedard. Two singles were released while the sessions were in progress: Bruce Springsteen's "Cherokee Queen" in late 1978 and the Joe Ress/Lance Wright written "Flows Like A River" in 1979. Two weeks after the second single was released, Casino Records went bankrupt and the band was stuck with an unreleased album and a $10,000 bill for recording time at Eastern Sound.

White carried on with one more version of Shooter that now included Rheal Lanthier (guitar) John Gibbard (slide guitar) from Crowbar. The band finally called it quits in 1980

White left the music business to help raise his three daughters; Harrison joined Crowbar before re-teaming with Mills and Bride who formed The Cameo Blues Band following their stint in Shooter.

I Can Dance: Shooter