Jackson Browne: Lives In The Balance (1986)

This is my favourite JB album. Admittedly it’s a bit more AOR than Westcoast, but that was the era it was produced in. I’m sure that many of his fans did not like the album when it came out (or even now), but for the tunes stand up well and the lyrics make the album timeless. The message and questions raised in ‘Lives In The Balance’, still stand up today.

Anyway, as always the musicianship and songs are great. If you haven’t heard it already, give it a try.

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Producer: Jackson Browne

Musicians:

Drums: Ian Wallace, Russ Kunkel, Stan Lynch & Jim Keltner
Bass: Jennifer Condo, Bob Glaub, Jorge Calderon & Phil Chen
Guitar: Gary Myrick, Kevin Dukes, Steve Lukather, Jackson Browne, Rick Vito, Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel,  Jorge Strunz, Kevin McCormick, Bernie Larsen & David Lindley
Piano: Jaï Winding, Jackson Browne & Bill Payne

Synthesizers: Jaï Winding, Bill Payne & Craig Doerge

Organ: Ian McClagen
Alto Sax: Phil Kenzie

Harmony Vocal: Doug Haywood, Kevin McCormick, Bonnie Raitt, Jorge Calderon, Deborah Dobkin, Mindy Sterling & Jackson Browne

Tracklist:

  1. For America
  2. Soldier of Plenty
  3. In the Shape of a Heart
  4. Candy
  5. Lawless Avenues
  6. Lives in the Balance
  7. Till I Go Down
  8. Black and White

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The President: By Appointment Of (1983)

This is another album that’s on the cusp between Westcoast AOR and the harder mid-Eighties sound, which developed into melodic rock. At times it is reminiscent of Journey, Foreigner or Starship, but with a lighter touch.

Nonetheless it’s a good album with some good tunes played well. “You’re Gonna Like It” was released as a single and contains a Starbuck approved xylophone solo. They were a Dutch band, I believe, who released a second album in 1985 on CBS (Muscles) and then disappeared. Pim remerged some years later in a band called Valensia.

Anyway, see what you think.

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Producers: Pim Koopman & Okkie Huysdens

Musicians:

Okkie Huysdens : Lead & Backing vocals
Pim Koopman : Synthesizers & Backing vocals
Hans Vermeulen : Backing vocals
Frank Papendrecht : Bass Guitar
Bas Krumperman : Acoustic & Electric Guitars

Tracklist:

  1. Hot-Blooded Lady
  2. Workin’ Girl
  3. Makin’ Millionaires
  4. Don’t Put Me On Hold
  5. Turn Me On
  6. That’s The Way That It Is
  7. Only Once Is Enough
  8. You’re Gonna Like It
  9. Outland
  10. Goin’ Places

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David Pack: Anywhere You Go (1985)

I am acutely aware that many people view this album as a classic, a Westcoast masterpiece. I do not. There, I said it. At the risk of being vilified I believe it’s time for me to come out of the closet and say it how I see it.

To my ears this is an okay album. It’s not too bad, but in no way is it a masterpiece of the genre. It’s not even Westcoast to me. I believe that it is closer to a kind of Hi-Tech, soft rock hybrid (with some Westcoast elements), released on the cusp between the peak Westcoast years and the advent of the hard rock sound of the mid to late Eighties.

Nonetheless, the songs are well written and well performed by a great cast of musicians and there are some really good tunes in there. It’s just not my particular peak of perfection. You decide…

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Producers: David Pack and Michael Verdick

Musicians:
Drums: Prairie Prince, George Perilli, John Robinson, Jeff Porcaro
Guitars: David Pack, Kerry Livgren
Bass: Mike Porcaro, Joe Puerta, David Pack, Will McGregor, Stanley Clarke
Keyboards: David Pack, Kerry Livgren, Jai Winding, James Newton Howard
Synthesizers: David Pack, Jamie Bernstein, Hawk Wolinski
Percussion: Burleigh Drummond, Paulinho Da Costa
Sax: Ernie Watts
Background Vocals: Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Joe Puerta, Royce Jones, Buleigh Drummond, John Elefante, Jennifer Holliday, Lisa Harrison, Cynthia Rhodes

Tracklist:

  1. Anywhere You Go
  2. I Just Can’t Let Go
  3. Won’t Let You Lose Me
  4. My Baby
  5. That Girl Is Gone
  6. She Don’t (Come Around Anymore)
  7. Do Ya
  8. Prove Me Wrong
  9. No Direction (No Way Home)
  10. Just Be You

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Bounce The Ocean (1991)

American duo with only one album to their name. Formed by Hawk Bjorn and John Utter, the album was released on the small independent ‘Private Music’ label. The songs are highly melodic, light AOR poppy numbers, but the whole thing has a charm that draws you in and gets under your skin. Features uber session player Michael Thompson on guitar.

Favourite track is ‘Crooked Heart’. Check it out below.

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Producer: Steve Berlin

Musicians:
Dave Boroff: Saxophone
Andy Kravitz: Drums, percussion
Frank Bry: Keyboard programming, bass, drum samples
Hawk Bjorn: Piano, keyboards, synthesizer bass, background vocals
Michael Thompson: Guitar
Greg Leisz: Slide guitar
Steve Berlin: Bells, triangle, percussion, saxophone
Michael O’Martian: Keyboards, organ, synthesizer, bass, piano
John Utter: Guitar, vocals, background vocals

Tracklist:
1. Throw It All Away
2. So We Collide
3. Wasting My Time
4. Letting Go
5. Gloria
6. Crooked Heart
7. Dry Your Eyes
8. When She Turned Away
9. Scientists
10. It Just Gets Better

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Houston (2010)

Some of you might be slightly surprised to see this album on PD’s website, and I wouldn’t blame you. However, if you like smooth poppy AOR with a modern sheen, this could very well be the album for you. On the other hand, if you like Frankie Valli or Neil Sedaka, you might be disappointed.

It’s slick and glossy with a keyboard heavy rock sound. Also, this is the Spinefarm version with two excellent bonus tracks. If you like it, I really would urge you to seek out the rest of their stuff, it’s easy to find on Amazon.

Houston - ST [UK cover]

Producer: Ricky B. Delin

Musicians:
Freddie Allen: drums, additional keyboards
Hampus Hank Erix: lead vocals
Lasse Falck: bass
Mats Olausson: keyboards
Ricky Delin: additional keyboards, backing vocals
Tommy Denander: guitars
Kristoffer Lagerstrom: backing vocals
Helena Alsterhed: lead vocals
Martin Fogelstrom: guitars
Kristoffer Hogberg: bass
Michel Santunione: guitars
Fabes: guitars
Thomas Vikstrom: backing vocals
J Cutter: Additional keyboards
Johan Kronlund: guitars
Krille Eriksson: guitars

Tracklist:
1. Pride
2. Truth Slips
3. Hold On
4. I’m Alive
5. One Chance
6. Give Me Back My Heart
7. Misery
8. She’s A Mystery
9. Now
10. 1000 Songs
11. Under Your Skin (bonus)
12. Chasing The Dream (bonus)

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