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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Body Electric (1984)

Debut album from a Canadian outfit, born from the Ashes of Straight Lines. I remember that Derk Oliver (Rock Candy records/Journalist) listed this as a great record in Kerrang, back in the Eighties. At the time I managed to pick up a vinyl copy and instantly fell in love with it.

This is Hi-Tech AOR of the highest order, played as tight as you like and produced as to a high shine. Great stuff….

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Producer: Body Electric & Ron Obvious

Musicians:
Frank Ludwig: Lead vocals, keyboards
David Sinclair: Lead vocals, guitar
Bob Buckley: Keyboards, saxophone
Ross Friesen: Drums, vocals

Tracklist:
1. The More Things Change
2. Stop The Music
3. Judys In Her Room
4. Living Two Lives
5. Midnight Madness
6. Somewhere In Time
7. Don’t Take Me For A Fool
8. It’s Gonna Hurt
9. One Step Back
10. You Can’t Take It With You

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Hi-Tech AOR: An Ultramodern Retro Mix

What is Hi-Tech AOR?

Essentially, it’s AOR (Album Oriented Rock) heavily mixed with pop, using the modern (for the Eighties) technology of the day. Alex Craig describes it as “metallic sounding MIDI bass programming, twinkly Yamaha DX-7 synths, huge gated reverbs on drums and other over the top, flashy touches.” He also, mistakenly, describes it as a phenomenon exclusive to YouTube, which a cursory Google will show you is incorrect.

Many Westcoast AOR artists moved into the area for an album or two in the mid Eighties, artists such as Stephen Bishop, Marc Jordan  and Peter Cetera, probably in an effort to sound modern and ‘down with the kids’. It was also heavily used on soundtrack albums and, of course, ‘Miami Vice’. However, possibly the most famous album of this genre was Mr. Mister’s ‘Welcome To The Real World’.

Anyway, here’s a mix I have done of some of the more obscure songs and bands, just for your enjoyment. There may also be another one in the pipeline……

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1. Miami Vice Theme: Jan Hammer
2. Too Late: Modesty
3. Nowhere Land: Time Gallery
4. Underground: Stablizers
5. What’s It Gonna Take: Glenn Medeiros
6. Stranger to Love: St. Paul
7. The Good Life: Dear Enemy
8. Back To The Sunshine: Freiheit
9. Touch & Go: La Manca
10. Heartbeat: Red 7
11. One of These Days: Toys Of Joy
12. Words Without Meaning: Channel 5
13. Life By Night: Life By Night
14. Jean Such A Scene: Jakarta
15. See You at Spargo: Valet Parking
16. Commissioner St.: 8 Seconds
17. Sleeping With Girls: Stephen Bishop
18. Someone Special: Kevin Raleigh
19. How Can We Believe: Keven Jordan
20. Up: Alan Gorrie
21. There Was A Time: One To One

Glenn Medeiros (1987)

Everybody knows the hit, and most think of him as a pop artist. However, dig deeper and what you get is a fine slice of Hi-Tech AOR. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it to you one day. For me they are all strong tracks but ‘What’s It Gonna Take’ is excellent. By the way, Jay Gruska and the Keane Brothers feature on the album.


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Producer: Jay Stone

Musicians:
Synthesizers, Saxophone: “Reverend” Dave Boruff
Bass: Michael Brady, John Pierce & Michael London
Guitars: Jeff Gilhart
Keyboards, Synthesizers: Jay Gruska, Ken Rarick & Bob Parr
Drums, Percussion: John Keane
Keyboards: Tom Keane
Leeza Miller: Vocals

Tracklist:
1 Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You
2 Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone
3 The Wings Of My Heart
4 A Stranger Tonight
5 Watching Over You
6 What’s It Gonna Take
7 A Fool’s Affair
8 You Left The Loneliest Heart
9 Knocking At Your Door

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Keven Jordan: No Sign Of Rain (1991)

Not so much Westcoast AOR, but more soft rock or lite AOR, with touches of Westcoast and  bit of Hi-Tech. It sounds like a mess, but this album is far from that, its a fantastic album with superb musicianship and brilliant songs. The pick of the punch are the title track and ‘Just Another Day’, although there really isn’t a duffer on here.

He did go in to release another album in 1994, which wasn’t so well received at the time and was , frankly, not as good as this debut. Maybe I’ll post it one day so that you can make your own judgement.

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Producer: Tim McCauley

Musicians:
Keven Jordan: vocals, guitars
Marty Walsh: guitars
Tim Mcauley: keyboards, drum programming
Peter Cardinali: bass
Matthew Mcauley: keyboards, vocals
Scott Humphrey: drum programming

Tracklist:
1. There Is A Reason
2. No Sign Of Rain
3. I Look To You
4. Just Another Day
5. True Believers
6. Your Disguise
7. She Lives
8. Traces Of You
9. How Can We Believe?
10. The Path That Leads To You

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Modesty: Pieces of Modesty (1989)

Modesty were a Swedish band who seemingly only released this one album. It is a closest I’ve heard to a true amalgamation of Hi-Tech AOR and Westcoast AOR and done so seamlessly. I’ve seen it described variously as Electro-Pop, New Romantic, Synth Pop and Euro Pop. It is none of those things although it does come close on a couple of occasions.

The New Romantic label could be attributable to some of the song titles, which bear more than a passing resemblance to song titles from more succesful bands earlier in the decade. However you want to clasify it though, it’s a great album packed with great tunes, just as all albums should be…..

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Producer: Modesty

Musicians:
Guitar, Backing Vocals: Pelle Nylén
Keyboards, Backing Vocals: Peter Ericson
Percussion, Drums: Kim Sundström
Bass: Rocco Ivarsson (track 7)
Backing Vocals: Frank Ådahl (tracks 4, 8, 15)
Backing Vocals: Madde Berg (tracks 2, 5, 13)
Backing Vocals: Åsa Meczynski (track 5)

Tracks:
1. Pieces Of Modesty
2. I Call For You
3. Don’t Forget Me
4. Standing Alone
5. Big Beat
6. Call Me Up
7. Say A Prayer
8. Too Late
9. Time For You And I
10. One More Broken Heart
11. Don’t Leave Until
12. Miranda

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