Strange Animal

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Strange Animal
Strange Animal.jpg
Studio album by Gowan
Released 1985
Recorded 1984
Studio Startling Studios; Ascot, Berkshire, England
Genre Progressive rock, pop
Length 42:18
Label Columbia
Producer David Tickle
Gowan chronology
Strange Animal
Great Dirty World
(1987)Great Dirty World1987
Singles from Strange Animal
  1. "A Criminal Mind"
  2. "(You're a) Strange Animal"
  3. "Cosmetics"
  4. "Guerilla Soldier"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]

Strange Animal is the second studio album by Canadian musician Lawrence Gowan, released in 1985. Despite not having an American release, Strange Animal is considered to be Gowan's breakthrough release;[2] the album would go on to reach #5 on the Canadian album charts and spawned the singles "(You're a) Strange Animal", "A Criminal Mind", "Cosmetics" and "Guerilla Soldier".[3]

Production and background[edit]

After his 1982 debut album Gowan did not fare well, Gowan "found himself naturally gravitating" to the Queen Street West music scene that was developing in Toronto in the mid 1980s.[4][5] This drew the attention of Columbia Records, which would fund his next album.[4] Gowan spent a year writing songs, and also travelled to Scotland and Ireland to trace his heritage.[4][6]

While there, he received a telephone call from English record producer David Tickle, who said he would produce the album[6] and arranged a recording session. Tickle secured the services of several session musicians from the backing band of Peter Gabriel for the recording session, including bassist Tony Levin, drummer Jerry Marotta, and guitarist David Rhodes.[4] The album Strange Animal was recorded at Startling Studios owned by Ringo Starr.[6]

The opening track, "Cosmetics", was inspired by Gowan's interest in the attractive and artistically sensitive, and the thin line between the deep and the superficial in the fickle world on modeling. Gowan's inspiration for the title track, "(You're a) Strange Animal", came from the writings of Hermann Hesse and an interest pull that various individuals can have on life. "A Criminal Mind", which Gowan has often been asked to explain his inspiration for, was inspired by a character than Gowan imagined in his psyche. According to Gowan, the words in the song are that character's declaration. The title originated from a conversation Gowan had with a retired prison guard.[7]


In 1999, Lawrence Gowan became a permanent member of the American rock band Styx, replacing original front man and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. Gowan being uncomfortable with performing Styx's song "Babe", which DeYoung had originally written for his wife, "A Criminal Mind" was subsequently added to Styx's setlist, and has since become a staple piece at concerts. The song would go on to be included in the live albums Styx World: Live 2001, 21st Century Live and One with Everything: Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.[8] You're a Strange Animal is the opening song to Steven Crowder's weekly podcast, as it plays each time when the show starts up, either in the beginning, or when the show is coming back from a break.

Track listings[edit]

All songs written and composed by Lawrence Gowan.

  1. "Cosmetics" – 4:38
  2. "Desperate" – 4:25
  3. "City of the Angels" – 4:04
  4. "Walking on Air" – 4:54
  5. "Burning Torches of Hope" – 3:56
  6. "Keep the Tension On" – 3:43
  7. "Guerilla Soldier" – 4:35
  8. "(You're a) Strange Animal" – 4:42
  9. "A Criminal Mind" – 7:21

Return of the Strange Animal re-release[edit]

In 2010, Gowan rereleased Return of the Strange Animal, featuring a remastered version of the album's songs, as well as a documentary and three music videos. In May 2010, Gowan performed two solo shows in support of the 25th anniversary of the Strange Animal album.



Name Chart (1985) Peakposition
"A Criminal Mind" Canada 5
"(You're a) Strange Animal" 15
"Cosmetics" 41
"Guerilla Soldier" 40

Awards and nominations[edit]

Juno Awards

Year Winner Category
1985 A Criminal Mind Best Video
1985 Strange Animal Best Album Graphics
Year Nominated Category
1985 "Strange Animal" Male Vocalist of the Year
1985 Strange Animal Album of the Year
1985 A Criminal Mind Best Selling Single
1985 (You're a) Strange Animal Animation by Greg Duffell / Lightbox Studios Inc. Best Video
1986 Cosmetics (director: Rob Quartly) Best Video