Our October review includes albums by Ambrosia, Heat, Jerry Corbetta, Dan Seals and Terence Boylan.
“Jerry Corbetta” by Jerry Corbetta (1978)
In 1978 Jerry Corbetta, former frontman of the rock band Sugarloaf (“Green-Eyed Lady”), recorded a sublime AOR album for Warner Bros. Records. The self-titled debut convinced with excellent songwriting and an splendid cast of studio cats like Rusty Buchanan, Jay Graydon, Michael Omartian, Victor Feldman, Bill Champlin, Mike Porcaro and Ernie Watts. The opening track “Sensitive Soul”, the jazzy “Caribbean Lady” and the disco-inflected anthem “Between A Rock And A Hard Place” are highlights. In the early ’80s Jerry Corbetta joined Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons as singer and musical director. His first solo release became his only one, but with “Jerry Corbetta” he released a solid West Coast classic.
“Harbinger” by Dan Seals (1982)
Before Dan Seals, formerly known as “England Dan”, started a solo-career in country music, he released with “Harbinger” in 1982 a flawless West Coast gem. Supported by first-class songwriters including Rick Bowles, David Foster, Jay Graydon and Glen Ballard, “Harbinger” united all the best of early 80’s AOR. Songs like the Toto-like “Can’t get you out of my mind” and the breezy “Not every heart succeeds” keep up with every genre classic. Great one!
“Life Beyond L.A.” by Ambrosia (1978)
Started in 1970 as an American answer to British prog-rock, the South Bay based quartet Ambrosia had also a strong affinity for hooks and pop melodies – influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Motown. Their third album “Life Beyond L.A.”, released in 1978, marked a move away from their prog-rock roots of the first two records towards a more jazzy mainstream pop direction, and proved to be the commercial breakthrough release for the group. The blue-eyed soul ballad “How Much I Feel”, sung by lead vocalist David Pack, became their first gold single and soared into the Top 10 on the Billboard charts. With “Dancin’ by Myself” included the album another jazzy AOR all-time classic. Not all band members were satisfied with this development: Christopher North left the group in 1977 during the album’s recording. But Ambrosia was on a roll. Two years later they released “One Eighty”, which included with “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman” their biggest hits.
“Still Waiting” by Heat (1981)
When saxophonist and arranger Tom Saviano founded his group Heat in 1979, he was firmly established in the L.A. music scene and had collaborated with artists such as Melissa Manchester, Paul Anka, Leo Sayer and Ringo Starr. After the critically acclaimed debut Heat released their second album “Still Waiting” in 1981, featuring Jean Marie Arnold and Ed Whiting on vocals. Saviano produced the album, played saxophone and keyboards, wrote and co-wrote all songs and took over all the arrangements. To realize his vision of sophisticated R&B and jazz-funk, Saviano invited top session musicians like Ed Greene, Neil Stubenhaus and Paul Jackson Jr. into the studio. The result was an energetic masterpiece with classics like “Follow You Home,” “Still Waiting,” or “Do not Waste A Minute”. Highly recommended!
“Suzy” by Terence Boylan (1980)
Terence Boylan’s third solo album “Suzy” (1980) is a special mixture of slick L.A. West Coast pop and tight New Wave oriented rock. The reason: Asylum had decided at the last minute to combine the artist’s third and fourth album into one record. Boylan was accompanied on this album by exquisite musicians like guitarists Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Larry Carlton, pianist Paul Harris, “Eagle” Timothy B. Schmit and even Chevy Chase, who played Fender Rhodes on “Miso Soup”. Because of this mix of styles the album was not well received by the radio stations. So “Suzy” sold badly despite of good reviews. Wrongly, because the album convinces with best West Coast song material. It’s worth listening again!