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Al Harlow pleased with how Prism is playing

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Al Harlow, the always laughing and smiling frontman of Canadian classic rockers Prism, is in a good place in his life.Al Harlow of Prism is looking forward to Whoop-Up Days. Photo by Richard Amery

“I’m really pleased with how the band is playing right now,” said Harlow, the band’s frontman/ lead guitarist/ lead singer and sole original member. They are putting the finishing touches on a new live CD reflecting where the new, reinvigorated band is at now, who are best known for a variety of ’70s and ’80s hits including “Spaceship Superstar”, “Night To Remember,” “Armageddon,” “Take Me To The Kaptin,” and “See Forever Eyes,” just to name a few.

Yet they are still releasing new music, having put out  their latest CD “ Big Black Sky ” in 2008, which they wrote with the help of long time songwriting parter Jim Vallance.

 He is looking forward to bringing the band to Lethbridge to play Whoop-Up Days, Aug. 26.

“We’ve played Lethbridge a lot of times, ” Harlow said, adding Whoop -Up Days may have been one of the first times they have played Lethbridge. They do play regularly in various Lethbridge bars like Average Joes.

“We have a lot of friends in Lethbridge,” he said.
 He doesn’t mind being pigeonholed as a classic rocker. Prism’s plethora of hits includes a ‘prism’ of influences including Who and Rolling Stones style rock  with elements of R and B and jazz.

 “I’m proud of everything we did. It was concentrated. Our music has its’ rock elements and R and B and horn sections. That’s what we were creating,” he said.

 “I don’t mind being called a classic rock band. I couldn’t put my finger on when that term was started. It just crept up. And it’s better than being called mothball rock,” he laughed.

“Besides classic rock is still being made. Bands like Aerosmith are still recording,” he observed, adding he is pleased people are still interested in Prism.

“We play to all ages. We have 19-year-olds banging their heads in front of the stage, and further back will be people in their 40s and 50s  who own vans and who grew up with us. People don’t care when the music came out. They just dig the music for what it is. We started to notice that in the ’90s,” he said.

“And how many children were conceived in a Chevy Nova to ‘Night To Remember,” he chuckled.


They have had a lot of hits in their career so they aren’t afraid to play their biggest one first, unlike most bands who make the audience wait until the end of the show to hear the big hit.

 “ We usually start with “Spaceship Superstar,” which is our biggest hit. Most bands save their big hits until the end of the show. So people are like “what the…’ they just played their biggest hit first. What’s next,” he said.

 He loves playing with the band, though they have slowed down somewhat.
 “I remember when Prism played  250 shows a year. I don’t think anybody does that anymore. Maybe Katy Perry or someone like that.”
 They have been busy playing the summer festival circuit.

While he started out as the band’s bassist, he always sang and played guitar in the studio, not to mention sang. His massive slide guitar solo is big attraction of Prism shows.

“ I’ve always played guitar. That’s me playing overdubbed guitar in “Take Me Away,” and in “Flying.” A fan at a show brought a picture of us playing in 1978 with me and the guitar, so I guess I was doing it then, ” he said.
 For now he is excited about the new live Prism CD which is almost completed.

“I’m very happy with the way the band is playing now,” he said adding they thought it was about time they recorded it.
“We‘re just going through the tracks and mixing them. So far we’re very pleased with it,” he said.

Looking back, he has enjoyed his career. He still keeps in touch with the other original members of Prism.

“Rocket Norton (original drummer) has retired and I have coffee with John Hall (original keyboardist) every week. But we’ve had two deaths on the family — Bruce Fairbairn our producer who was originally in the band and Ron Tabak,” he observed, adding they aren’t considering reuniting with the original members as they are busy with other projects.
 They will be on stage at 9 or 9:30 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
A version of this story appears in the Aug. 26, 2011 of the Lethbridge Herald
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