Late last month 25 years ago, Tom Cochrane unleased Mad Mad World, which turned out to be the most successful album of his lengthy career — and the milestone has not escaped the attention of his record label, Universal Music Canada — or of Tom himself.
To recognize the occasion, UMC has released a remastered deluxe edition of Mad Mad World. It comes with a previously unreleased demo version of Life Is A Highway — which was titled Love Is A Highway at that point. The two-CD package also includes a full 1992 concert performance, captured in Chicago, featuring well-known tracks from the album, along with time-tested Red Rider cuts.
The anniversary bash includes a special exhibition at the National Music Centre in Calgary, and a full tour of the Great White North, which includes some rockin’ at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday February 28.
Mad Mad World is one of only a handful of records by a Canadian artist to attain the coveted diamond status, which certifies a million copies sold in this country. Cochrane is confident that the music still stands up to this day. “I’ve always tried to write timeless songs, he says. “Life Is A Highway has certainly proved to be that, along with other songs on the record. Hopefully it is an album [with which] people can celebrate life and find it energizing. It is a positive record for the most part, with some pretty heavy material on it.”
“I’ve been closely involved with the packaging and the liner notes. It has been a labour of love, one that has jogged my memory on certain details.”
The bonus live CD with the Chicago concert has him all pumped up, as well. “It is a wonderfully exciting recording. That was such a good band then, with Matt Frenette and Spider [Sinneave] as the rhythm section, plus Peter Fredette (the lead vocalist on Kim Mitchell‘s All We Are), Sil Simone and the late Eric Webster on keyboards. I think people who are fans will love that Chicago performance.”
As for that long lost demo of Life Is A Highway: “The original demo almost has a reggae skiffle vibe to it and the vocal is very John Lennon-like. It was passed over by Red Rider because Kenny [Greer] especially felt it was too poppy.”
Cochrane will present the album in full, as well as other tunes, on his tour. “It’ll be an interesting departure, because of course Red Rider will be playing these songs, supplemented by having Bill Bell touring with us,” he says. “We’ll try to be as accurate as possible to the original recordings live.” And he’s still in love with the stage — a place where “you try to capture that vibe of being a 15 year old jamming with your buddies.”
Casting his thoughts back to a quarter century ago, Cochrane says he could never have foreseen Mad Mad World becoming so successful. “You just do what you can and see where the chips fall. But there was something special about the whole project. As an artist, I just felt really good about the process. I enjoyed the whole experience.”
Life Is A Highway was an international hit, which helped the album rack up very good sales figures in the United States, and our southern neighbors will be getting the reissue as well. “We’ll aim to get a release for the reissue in the States as well, six months or so down the line. I think the original release of the record was eight months to a year later there.”
Eric Lawrence at Coalition, Cochrane’s new management group, is a longtime fan. “He had us at Lunatic Fringe. Tom seems to be able to create music that always feels fresh, but never trendy. The MadMadWorld25 deluxe reissue is the celebration of a great album – full stop. It will remind people of how big the album was globally and of its importance to Canada’s musical history. It will resonate with new fans because the songs simply stand the test of time.”