Before writing a No. 1 Billboard hit (“Black Velvet”), becoming a MuchMusic original veejay, and an author and podcaster, JUNO-winning songwriter Christopher Ward recorded a 1978 solo debut album titled Spark of Desire.
Until now, Spark of Desire has never been available on streaming services. However, on a lucky trip to his well-organized storage space during the pandemic, Ward found the master tapes, and Warner Music Canada was able to bake them back into existence and remaster this delightful debut.
Available October 21, fans will finally be able to discover (or re-discover) Spark of Desire in its remastered splendor, including the joyful, groovy single “Once In A Longtime,” which, with its bright horns and easy disco roll, evokes the beauty, wonder, and euphoria of discovering new love.
“Once In A Longtime” was written when Ward was just your average, ambitious kid trying to make it in the biz. “In 1975 I was scuffling,” Ward remembers. “Writing songs late at night and by day chasing whatever gigs I could find on the Toronto singer-songwriter circuit. I regularly pestered record companies with my latest demo tapes, which were created in dingy basements, taking my dog with me to appointments.”
Finally, Ward caught a lucky break. He met an A&R guy named Jim Campbell (who everyone referred to as “Soupy,” for obvious reasons). “Jim liked my music, listened to all my demos, and was very encouraging,” Ward recalls. “He booked me and my band into Eastern Sound studios in Yorkville, to record what was called ‘four sides,’ meaning four songs.” One of those songs happened to be the sublime “Once In A Longtime.”
Like fans of classic singer-songwriters of the 1970s, Ward is aware that Spark of Desire has continued through the decades as a beloved album, even if it hasn’t been readily available. “To this day, the songs get played on the radio and, I know from the reaction that I see online, hold a special place in many people’s hearts,” Ward says. “For this, I’m grateful.”
It seems almost like kismet that Ward just released Same River Twice, his first solo album in decades, last year. Perhaps best known for his No. 1 hit “Black Velvet” which he wrote for Alannah Myles, Same River Twice featured a fresh take on the beloved song.
As far as resumes go, Ward’s is among the nation’s most prolific: He was a recording artist throughout the ’70s, a television icon and founding VJ through the ’80s, and a hit songwriter in the ’90s. He’s written songs for many – including Diana Ross, Amanda Marshall, Colin James, and the Backstreet Boys – as well as for CTV’s Instant Star, the Degrassi franchise, Cirque du Soleil, and more. His songs have been performed on Idol shows around the world, and he’s won a JUNO Award for Songwriter of the Year. Ward has also authored three novels and an oral history of MuchMusic titled Is This Live?. He also co-hosts a podcast called Famous Lost Words.
His album Spark of Desire, featuring the single “Once In A Longtime,” is available now.