Friday, December 18, 2015

DUANE EVANS - The Camel's Hump (demos)

WHAT IF 1987 Tommy Funderburk
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and owner of a recording studio, DUANE EVANS become a highly requested single / commercials maker during the '80s & '90s, but his musical travel started long time before.
After playing in several bands from the US East Coast, one day at the beginning of the Eighties Evans got a call from a friend... - Do you want to play in the band for Benny Mardones, whose 'Into The Night' single it's at the No. 5 on the Billboard charts?

The association with Mardones lasted more than ten years, they wrote together dozens of songs and of course, Evans recorded on all '80s Benny albums including the cult classics 'Unauthorized', 'American Dreams' and the outstanding major label release '89 'Benny Mardones' alongside Jeff Porcaro, Dave Amato and Mark Mangold.
In the meantime, Duane Evans had a publishing contract with Warner Chapel writing songs for other artists and many Hollywood movies. Plus, he played for Johnny Van Zant - even one of Evan's songs is included in the superb 'Van Zant' AOR album (Geffen Records, 1985).

As you see, Duane Evans has an impressive pedigree as Melodic Rock / AOR musician & composer. And every musician wants to record his own songs...
While managing his own recording studio and producing several artists / recording singles, Evans taped dozens of his songs in a highly professional quality.
Around 2009 Evans compiled many of these tracks and put them on sale at some obscure digital stores under the name "Camel's Hump" [not related with me :-)], but I am not sure if still are available.

Well, a reader requested the album here, and I found deeply buried into my archives a folder called "DUANE EVANS - Camel's Hump [demos / Benny Mardones related]". I don't know if the files here are demos or the final versions, but believe me, the sound is excellent.
And the musical style is nothing short than the awesome '80s American AOR / Melodic Rock we all love.

Tracks like the terrific mid-tempo "I Wanna Run To You", the Tim Feehan-like "Send A Message", or the classic melodic rocker "On The Brink of Your Love" are to die for.
"Ride Ride Ride" is pure radio-ready magic circa 1984 which seems designed for a movie soundtrack of the era, then "Only Love" is top class West Coast AOR in the best L.A. Session tradition.
More quality appears in the breezy AOR of "I'll Be Loving You", the heart-breaking "The Lady In White" is like a Mardones missing (and great) track, while "A Night To Remember" bring to mind 1982 Rick Springfield.

"DUANE EVANS - The Camel's Hump (demos)" is pure gold, not only for AOR / Melodic Rock fans but also for collectors of rare, high quality material in this genre. I never seen this stuff posted / shared anywhere, and it's a shame, these terrific songs deserve to be listened by all.
That's why I am here...
This is one of the best posts in the long existence of this blog: AWESOME SONGS!

01 - We Can Make It Work
02 - Ride Ride Ride
03 - I Wanna Run To You
04 - Only Love
05 - Send A Message
06 - On The Brink of Your Love
07 - I'll Be Loving You
08 - The Lady In White
09 - A Night To Remember
10 - You Will Be Forever (Fly Baby Fly)
11 - I'm Just A Kid (In A Rock 'n Roll Band)
12 - You Get What You Get
13 - Party For The Planet
14 - The Red Ribbon Song (There's Also Hope)
15 - Fly Baby Fly [instrumental]

DUANE EVANS - The Camel's Hump (demos) HERE

Friday, December 11, 2015

KEVIN WELLS - Little Acts Of Treason (1985)

KEVIN WELLS - Little Acts Of Treason (1985) front
American KEVIN WELLS is a pedigreed musician who plays everything from drums to guitar, and it's an accomplished vocalist & songwriter as well. Versatile at everything from jazz to hard rock, he has played on the road or in the studio since the age of 15 with dozens of major acts.
Member of cult act Pablo Cruise or Laura Branigan's live band musical director, perhaps Wells is better known as Huey Lewis & The News' drummer & backing vocalist, having recorded on their 'Sports' album and co-written with Andre Pessis (Mr. Big) their hit 'Walking On A Thin Line'.

By '85 Kevin Wells had the opportunity to release his own material as solo artist, handling the lead vocals, drums, keys, and thanks to his business connections, getting into the studio real heavy weight session musicians.
Just take a look; master Dann Huff on guitar, keyboardist Bill Cuomo, terrific drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, West Coast / AOR icon Jim Photoglo doing backing vocals... impressive.

Kevin Wells' debut "Little Acts Of Treason" is a short, beautiful, typically mid-Eighties plenty of catchy numbers. A melodic mix of Rock&Pop & AOR, radio friendly tunes, with excellent production and musicianship all over.
"I'm still Waiting" is a glossy, synth based track with a contagious chorus that remembers Tony Carey's 80s material. The lite-AOR rhythm of "Stronger than the City" is a pure melodic bliss, a really catchy track with a lovely chorus.

"Agony and Ecstasy" is a super commercial ballad with some kind of Aldo Nova on it and a great guitar work by John McFee. Why this song never become a hit? Excellent.
The meaty funky groove of "Never too Late" raise the pace again (with class), and then "Night Life" is one of the highlights of the disc, a magical mid-tempo light AOR track.

"Out of my Hands" has a great chorus, very nice harmonies (Jim Photoglo on backing vocals) and a great Huff guitar solo. "Time Heals" is my favorite song on the LP, an AORish and captivating tune with a terrific rhythm guitar and very good climax. This track reminds me Tommy Shaw solo work.
"Love is on the Line" is another beauty, cool and ethereal, in the best Van Stephenson style. "Talk to Me" has a lot of keyboards and guitars, a track again in the vein of Tommy Shaw but his first solo album 'Girls With Guns' era.

KEVIN WELLS - Little Acts Of Treason (1985) back

Kevin Wells has a warm sweet voice, while his songwriting is catchy, intelligent (very clever commercial arrangements too). In fact, most of the tracks are co-penned by the aforementioned Andre Pessis, a talented cat in this matter.
"Little Acts Of Treason" was released by small private label, but surprisingly, Victor Japan (a big one these days) pick up the record and released it in Asia with considerable success. However, the album never was reissued on CD.
This a rip at maximum quality from a bootleg CD which sounds really well, including artwork scans.
Rare and delicious.

01 - I'm still waiting
02 - Stronger than the city
03 - Agony and ecstasy
04 - Never too late
05 - Night life
06 - Out of my hands
07 - Time heals
08 - Love is on the line
09 - Talk to me

Kevin Wells: Vocals, Keyboards, Drums
Dann Huff: Guitar
John McFee: Guitar, Bass
Rick Chudacoff: Bass
Bill Cuomo, Bill Elliott: Keyboards
Vinnie Colaiuta, Peter Bunetta: Drums
Jim Photoglo, Matthew Wilder, Leslie Smith, Joe Turano, Harmish Stewart, Larry Hoppen: Backing Vocals

KEVIN WELLS - Little Acts Of Treason (1985)

Friday, December 04, 2015

L.A. RAY And The SHADES - Wild Weekend (1985)

L.A. RAY And The SHADES - Wild Weekend (1985) front
Requested in "REQUEST & FILL CORNER" section...

L.A. RAY And The SHADES is a funny name for your band. It does not a reference to sunglasses or the Californian city, in fact, this band hails from Colorado, and in their only (?) album "Wild Weekend" they deliver some darn fine '80s Pomp / Melodic Rock.

Opener "Do It All Night" is driven by biting guitars, a very strong melody and vocals which remind me Mervyn Spence from O'Ryan. "City Lights" adds some Pomp to the mix with some late Angel (Giuffria) but it's mostly a melodic rocker with a sharp six-string work and a killer solo.
A Pomp AOR infusion explodes in track 3 "So Glad" starting with analog keys developing into something Styx could have produced in the first half of the '80s, however the chorus is quite poppy and extremely catchy. Excellent harmony vocal arrangements here too.

"Lady Ice" is that kind of mid-tempo Pomp tune we all love, again with an Angel / New England feel - love these stabbing keys in the background. The elaborated middle part has some Queen reference as well.
More quality pompy stuff comes with "Why Don't You" (akin Le Roux), the catchy "Victim Of Love", the harder "Rockin' In Time" and the sweet and melodic "It Only Takes A Minute" (perhaps a bit of REO Speedwagon?).
"Don't Want To Be Lonely" is more mid-Eighties radio-oriented AOR, while the LP ends with the ballad "No Goodbyes", pompy with certain Roadmaster cadence in the vocals.

L.A. RAY And The SHADES - Wild Weekend (1985) back

"Wild Weekend" is a rare private vinyl release requested many times on this blog, so here it is, ripped from vinyl (not mine) but cleaned.
There's almost no information available about L.A. RAY And The SHADES, even I do not have the names of personnel involved. But who cares when the music is so good.
As a friend habitually says: Pomp Rules!

01 - Do It All Night
02 - City Lights
03 - So Glad
04 - Lady Ice
05 - Why Don't You
06 - Victim Of Love
07 - Rockin' In Time
08 - Don't Want To Be Lonely
09 - It Only Takes A Minute
10 - No Goodbyes

L.A. RAY And The SHADES - Wild Weekend (1985)