Strange Animal

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Strange Animal
Strange Animal.jpg
Studio album by
StudioStartling Studios; Ascot, Berkshire, England
GenreProgressive rock, pop
LabelColumbia (1984-2008)
Linus Entertainment (2008-Present)
ProducerDavid Tickle
Gowan chronology
Strange Animal
Great Dirty World
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. In a 2015 interview with Huffington Post Canada, Gowan stated that Cosmetics was selected as the first track on the album because Ringo Starr told him he danced to it in his kitchen during Gowan's recording sessions at Starr's home studio.[7]

In September 1984, the album Strange Animal achieved double platinum status and established Gowan as a "hit domestic artist".[8] Despite his domestic success and a secondary United States release in May 1985, the song received little airplay in the United States.[9]


In 1999, Lawrence Gowan became a permanent member of the American rock band Styx, replacing original frontman 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.[10]

In 2018, "A Criminal Mind" was certified as a Platinum Single in Canada, surpassing a combined 80,000 physical 7", 12" single and digital downloaded units sold.[11] Gowan was presented with the plaque on stage at his Caesar's Palace show in Windsor, Ontario.

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 2008, Lawrence Gowan's Columbia recordings reverted to him and were subsequently assigned to Linus Entertainment. In 2010, Gowan and Linus repackaged the album as Return of the Strange Animal featuring a remastered version of the album's songs combined with a DVD documentary feature 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


  1. ^ "Strange Animal - Gowan - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  2. ^ "Gowan". 2 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Gowan".
  4. ^ a b c d Griffin 1985.
  5. ^ LeBlanc 1994.
  6. ^ a b c Sharp 2014, p. 146.
  7. ^ Gowan 2015.
  8. ^ LaPointe 1986, p. C-13.
  9. ^ Sharp 2014, p. 173.
  10. ^ "CRR Interview - Lawrence Gowan Of Styx: Fitting In".
  11. ^ "Gowan's 'Criminal Mind' Now Certified Platinum". Retrieved 9 November 2018.