Retro Spin:”All Over Town” by April Wine


Found on the Canadian band’s 1981 album, “The Nature of the Beast,” “All Over Town” tells a classic story of boy meets girl, and rumors swirling about the relationship. The heavy rhythms, catchy guitar riffs, and conversational lyrics make “All Over Town” a somewhat underrated hard rock classic.

April Wine in brief

The band formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1969. From the early 1970s through the 1980s, April Wine created a series of memorable songs that captured the American spirit of rock n’ roll, and the universal nature of romantic relationships.

The five-piece group brings a dexterity to their playing that is not always been a feature of rock music. Videos exist of many of April Wine’s concerts. It is worth watching the video for “All Over Town” and several other songs.

It is worth noting that the same album that contains “All Over Town” also has other songs that made April Wine famous. Tracks like “Sign of the Gypsy Queen,” and “Just Between You and Me” contain the classic April Wine feel without making the songs sound alike. Each contains storylines, searing riffs, and pounding drums.

Even now, well into the 21st century, April Wine continues to amaze new generations of rock fans.

April Wine: “All Over Town”

The song’s premise is simple: The narrator is a bit peeved that his former girlfriend is going around acting as if she can do whatever she wants with whoever. But before the lyrics start, there is that guitar riff that is as searing as it is heavy. The feel is chunky and aggrieved, like an ax being sharpened. The sound is so mean that it often stops listeners and forces them to notice the song that seems to have to an ax to grind.

The lyrics of “All Over Town” offer life to the song, too. They sound like a conversation. “Someone said/ you were runnin’ round like you own the world/it’s no secret you’re the talk of the town, you know the best of the girls.”

So the scene is set. The feel is urban, contemporary. It takes little for audiences to understand what is happening. Not only is the young woman the talk of the town, but her breakup from the narrator is the talk of the town, as listeners find out later.

While the young woman has “walked right out of” the narrator’s heart, he admits multiple times that she is ” so neat, so cute, so fine/you know everyone wants some action.”

The word choice seems perfect for what is happening here. At the end, the narrator concedes that they should still be friends. There is no clear consensus about what the young former lovers decide to do. And so the world of the song is left full of conjecture just like at the beginning. Each time listeners return to the song that insular world full of rumors and young love is waiting for them.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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