Max Webster – High Class in Borrowed Shoes

Max Webster

Written by Joe Taylor

November 08, 2020


Let me start of this tribute with the fact that Max Webster came out with 5 incredible albums in their short time together, and I could write this column about any of them. I chose High Class in Borrowed shoes because if I had to choose my favourite album from them, this one would squeak out in front, by a nose hair. With that said I must comment on the delicious cover for this record. It is a simple band photo against a white backdrop. The garbs they decided to wear for this shoot looks like something Roxy Music threw up at a bad party. This is true Max Webster in a very fine moment.

As far as the music goes, this is a record for everyone. It has rocking tracks for the rockers. It has progressive elements for the progheads out there. They even have a couple of ballads that young woman could thoroughly enjoy. They even throw out some rich commentary about the state of the American ways.

The opening track, High Class in Borrowed shoes is a raunchy and trashy rocker that can only engage those trashy rockers ready to party. Let’s get the kegger started.

They quickly slip into Diamonds, Diamonds that put you head as ease and lets you float through the cloudy love of your fancy. With just about any Max tune, this is truly an original song. Great keyboards work from Terry Watkinson. This is a true gem of a song.

Gravity is one of those songs that stick with you and clearly for one strong reason. You wait for that coin drop. It is an inspirational song to feed that savagery in your heart. Kim’s fearful vocals are both slightly comedic but poignant at the same time.

Words to Words, is the other great ballad. It is heartfelt, beautiful and ready to celebrate and bask in its shimmering intoxication.

We are then rudely awakened by a noisy rocker that practically sticks a dirty needle into America’s Veins. It is brash and unapologetic and pretty damn ugly.

Where do you go from that damp rankness? Well, I guess Oh War will have to suffice, since it’s been done before.  Gary McKraken’s drums really sets up the mood of this song with it military precision and then Kim Mitchell draws on some of his murkiest guitar playing ever. There is nothing pretty about this song.

What can one say about the song, On the Road, except…Road Trip!!! This song is nothing less than pure joy and happiness and the freedom of the road. This song will always be heard on any road trip I take, along with The Who’s, Going Mobile.

We have to wait until the 8th song to listen to what brain child, Terry Watkinson has created. There is no disappointment in his aura filled cinematic piece, Rain Child. It is large and soft and lets the mind free to wander this multi-leveled bubble.

Just as you are completely engrossed in the Max World, we now come to the end, by going to the Moon. Yes Max Webster will always be known for their moon songs, and why not. These are always some of the best music they ever recorded. In context of the moon is no exception. Mike Tilka Bass work guides you through various mini journeys within this 5 minute song. It feels like it goes on and on with it varying degree of progressive pop graffiti. Its smatterings spew all over you and you simply stand there and take it like the true fan that you are.

I believe any Max Webster fan can understand this little commentary. I am curious to see if a younger crowd could be enthralled in a similar way. Please share Max Webster with you children and find out.

Please leave your thoughts on this album and follow Blast Toronto on Facebook!

Here are a few more images of Max Webster:

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  1. Mike

    Maybe one of the best groups this country has ever produced. Another interesting aspect of the cover band portrait is that Kim stands well back so everyone’s head is at about the same level. The songs are great, no doubt about that. But this release has always been earmarked as one of the best sounding and recorded albums of its day. I was ecstatic that their whole catalogue was recently released as an 8 cd boxset named “The Party”. I have it and it’s great!

    • Joe Taylor

      I did not know about the Box set. I will have to look deeper into that. Thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more.

  2. Harold T

    The Max Machine (Webster) was and is Canada’s, the world’s too, most under rated band. Anybody that has followed this band can truely appriciate their music as none other had this sound. High Class In Borrowed Shoes is the epitome of awesomeness and personally believe the best Canadian album made. Sorry Rush, S.Twain and the rest, but many a DJ would agree. I’m glad to have followed this band shows thru the 70’s and any reunion shows. All five-6 actually- albums should be in every rockers’ album collection.If you like a great mix of party time tunes dont delay. Pye Dubios crazy lyrics just adds a sense of trip with there eclectic meanings for you to decifier. You shall not be disappointed. Rock on!

  3. Joe Taylor

    Harold, your comment couln’t be more accurate. Well thought out and 100% true for me as well.


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