James Lawrence Berk is a gifted songwriter and arranger who has worked for numerous artists and composed music for TV / radio commercials and film soundtracks. This rich background in the music business helped James to locate top-notch musicians to crystallize his ambition: THE JAMES PROJECT, the recording of his original songs under his own musical direction.
Berk is the 'orchestrator' on "Desert Bloom", driving all these talented musicians to his vision: timeless Melodic Rock with AOR and rock&pop elements.
"Desert Bloom" is almost an 'unknown' B.E. Taylor solo album, as Taylor carries most of the lead vocals here. If you don't know B.E. Taylor, the singer and his band has released four albums during the '80s, all considered cult AOR pieces. His vocal style is an amazing cross of Michael Bolton and Steve Perry, a truly excellent voice, clear and smooth.
The personnel in the recording includes ex- members of Beau Coup, Jonah Koslen, Three Dog Night, American Noise, Michael Stanley Band, etc., so quality is guaranteed.
Opener "Love Is Forever" is a cool commercial song, a bit poppy but with a catchy chorus. "I Don't Know How" is a good mid-tempo, followed by the warm "Can You Feel It" with a very good performance by Taylor.
But the real first monster track arrives with "Take Me To The River". It sounds like a song off THE STORM's debut, and B.E. like Steve Perry. Awesome track.
"Sorrow In Disguise" seems -at first glance- out of place on this album, but it's a really, really good tune, performed by Anne Cochran. She has a deep voice, and the song wraps you into a tremendous groove.
"Tell Her I'm Home" is a pretty obvious ballad, but the unknown (to me) Gary Grimes sings quite well sporting a very nice vocal timbre.
"Mend My Broken Heart" is a Benny Mardones' type song, thus I love it. Lead singer John Salamon remembers me AORster BJ Thomas at the mic.
The following tracks are the best part of this recording: "Sooner Or Later" is a great duet, B.E. sounds almost exactly like Michael Bolton circa 1985, while "Matter Of Time" is gracious and sweet (another top vocal performance).
"Everything About You" steals the show, a brilliant AOR track, and one of the highlights here. Then we have another pearl in "Take Good Care Of Her Heart" performed by Beau Coup's leader Frank Amato. It's great to hear him again. A Beau Coup lost song! Excellent.
"Promised Land" is gorgeous, tell me if it doesn't sounds like a Pride Of Lions / Jim Peterik tune.
THE JAMES PROJECT "Desert Bloom" is a criminally unknown album appeared in a time when good music was sunken by the abhorrent 'trend of the moment', but it's one of the best Melodic Rock project albums out there, soulful, cohesive and with terrific songwriting and performances.
01 - Love Is Forever [Long Version] (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
02 - I Don't Know How (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
03 - Can You Feel It (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
04 - Take Me To The River (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
05 - Sorrow In Diguise (lead vocals: Anne Cochran)
06 - Tell Her I'm Home (lead vocals: Gary Grimes)
07 - Mend My Broken Heart (lead vocals: John Salamon)
08 - Sooner Or Later (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor & Sasha)
09 - Matter Of Time (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
10 - Everything About You (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
11 - Take Good Care Of Her Heart (lead vocals: Frank Amato)
12 - Promised Land (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
13 - Love Is Forever [Single Version] (lead vocals: B.E. Taylor)
B.E. Taylor: Lead and Background Vocals
John Salamon: Lead Vocals
Gary Grimes: Lead Vocals
Kevin Raleigh: Lead and Background Vocals
Anne Cochran: Lead and Background Vocals
Frank Amato (Beau Coup): Lead Vocals
Ed Sarley: Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Robert Fraser: Acoustic Guitars
George Sipl (American Noise): Keyboards and Bass
Andy Kubiszewski: Drums and Percussion
James L. Berk: Programming
John Klayman, Mike Lee: Sax
Oliver Hairston: Background Vocals
Donnie Iris: Background Vocals
Peter Hewlett: Background Vocals
Sasha: Background Vocals
Produced by James L. Berk
THE JAMES PROJECT Desert Bloom