Throughout the 1970s, hard rock thrived in the American Midwest like no place else on earth. So much so, that it wasn't uncommon for rockers like Kiss,Bob Seger, and Ted Nugent, who were still largely overlooked on the East and West Coasts, to sell out arenas and rank among the highest-grossing acts in the country, year after year. As a result, hundreds of bands formed in their wake, eager to open their concerts in a bid to pave their own interstate highways to fame and glory, including St. Paul, MN's Cain.
Cain's roots lay in a pair of late ‘60s combos named the Grasshoppers and the Bananas (no joke!), which served as the proving ground for vocalist Jiggs Lee, guitarist Lloyd Forsberg, and bassist Dave Elmeer, before they decided to join forces. Looking for a fresh start as the ‘70s were dawning, the threesome connected with keyboardist Al Dworsky and drummer Mike Mlazgar before adopting the new moniker of Cain, surely as an emblem of their darker, harder-hitting new musical direction. And so, several years of grassroots work followed, as the band honed their sound while building a following via rigorous club engagements ranging from their Twin Cities base as far South as Chicago, and hitting every spot in between…over and over again. During that period, Cain shared stages with other Midwestern hard rock hopefuls like Styx and Cheap Trick, while numerous drummers and keyboard players came and went, but by 1975, keys had become an afterthought, and drummer Kevin DeRemer had settled behind the drum kit for the recording of the band's debut album, A Pound of Flesh. Released through a small independent label named ASI, the LP boasted songs reminiscent of both established bands like Deep Purple and Queen, as well as those still relatively unknown midwestern contemporaries like Styx and Kansas. Then Cain hit the road in support of the album, casting their net as wide as Texas this time, but ASI simply did not have the marketing and distribution resources to take the band's career to the next level. Nor did they see eye to eye from a creative standpoint, it would seem, and both parties had already fallen out over the Pound of Flesh album's tasteless cover image; although the band intended the title to reference Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, they got stuck with a can of raw meat instead (one can almost picture the bandmembers shouting "Venice, not venison!"). Nevertheless, Cain would fulfill their contract with ASI via a 1977 sophomore album, Stinger, before moving on; but they succumbed to mounting disillusionment and despair midway through the sessions for their third album the following year. Lee and Elmeer called it quits, leaving Forsberg and DeRemer to limp along for another year before definitively laying the Cain name to rest. And yet the band was not entirely forgotten, but rather enjoyed some measure of belated recognition, especially after A Pound of Flesh was reissued on CD in 2003 by Monster Records. ~ Eduardo Rivadvia