Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brian Maes, Brad Delp & RTZ

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1)til tuesday
2)Young Snakes
3)RTZ / Barry Goudreau
4)Brad Delp Tribute
5)Robert Ellis Orrall
6)Human Sexual Response
7)Hirsh Gardner
8)Robin Lane



Together with alum from the band Boston, Barry Goudreau put together an interesting nine songs recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles. It's the distinctive Boston guitar sound with more basic rock & roll. "What's a Fella to Do" could be a sequel to "Rock and Roll Band"; "Mean Woman Blues" goes in an almost Foghat direction. Fran Cosmo's vocals feel a bit more British than Brad Delp, and "Leavin' Tonight" leans more toward producer Mike Chapman and the sound of the Sweet than one would expect. Goudreau's guitar and Syb Hashian's drums are a powerful combo -- no bassist is listed. The song "Dreams" gave Goudreau's self-titled debut the radio attention it deserved, and a bit of a following. This track definitely sounds like the band Boston which, rumor has it, upset Tom Scholz. In 1992 singer Delp and guitarist Goudreau joined Brian Maes & the Memory. They rode the Maes original "Until Your Love Comes Back Around" into the Top 30 in America, and the Return to Zero album was a nice reunion for the two major forces behind this. "Life Is What We Make It" and "Cold Cold World" are good slices of American hard rock. More refined than Grand Funk Railroad and not as slick as the Mickey Thomas version of Starship, the Barry Goudreau album is a fun record free from the restrictions of Scholz's meticulous production. While "Cold Cold World" may evoke thoughts of the song "Long Time," the string quartet on "Sailin' Away" gives the album a depth and identity. Just a bunch of professional musicians playing what they like and coming up with a gem.

til tuesday First album VOICES CARRY (Epic)

Review by Joe Viglione

'Til Tuesday's debut album, Voices Carry, contains hip photo imagery (Aimee Mann's smile on the back is priceless and beautiful) and excellent songwriting, all credited to drummer Michael Hausman, guitarist Robert Holmes, keyboard player Joey Pesce, and bassist/singer Aimee Mann. The follow-up would be more specific as to who wrote what. While most bands from Boston suffered from lack of production, Mike Thorne does a decent job on much of the album and excellent work on the title track. Former manager Randall Barbera spoke with this writer prior to the album's recording, when Human League/Pete Shelley producer Martin Rushent was being considered for the task. The question for fans was, like the Cars before them, what was wrong with the hit demo of "Love in a Vacuum," which saturated Boston airwaves prior to the record deal? As good a job as Mike Thorne did on the song "Voices Carry," the world at large has not heard the inspired and innovative recording that was the original "Love in a Vacuum." If memory serves, Will Garrett did the production work, and like certain tracks by the band Private Lightning, the demo to "Love in a Vacuum" was superior to what came out on Epic. As Roy Thomas Baker polished "Just What I Needed" for the Cars, filling it with Queen-style thickness, the new wave edge of the demo, on release on Rhino's Cars Deluxe, will give a good example of the transition these songs go through. The big difference is that the original "Love in a Vacuum" was perfect and needed no changing, and the Mike Thorne version is over-produced, creating a good album track when the true follow-up hit was actually in hand. Epic/Legacy simply has to expand this disc with the original 'Til Tuesday demos. "Don't Watch Me Bleed" has the same kind of mesmerizing bass that makes "Voices Carry" so captivating, while the final track, "Sleep," could be the Human League going deep into the underground. The song would also work well with a girl group hero like Barbara Harris of the Toys, showing the versatility of this unique ensemble. Aimee Mann's major-label debut shows rapid maturity when compared to her Bark Along With the Young Snakes EP, and there's something about this combination of Pesce, Hausman, and the brilliant Robert Holmes that would make a 'Til Tuesday reunion a welcome thing. The haunting lyrics and dark tones of the keys and bass on songs like "I Could Get Used to This" or "No More Crying" separate this recording from the work of similar '80s bands. "Looking Over My Shoulder" has a bubbling intensity which Holmes' guitar adds drama to. Voices Carry may have achieved success because of the MTV video, but there were nine other songs to go along with the hit, and this album and its follow-ups should have had as much commercial success as the Cars, because artistically, they are equal to that band's dynamic debut.


Review by Joe Viglione

The Young Snakes were a trio of musicians who toured the Boston area relentlessly in the early '80s, featuring Michael Evans on drums, Douglas Vargas on guitar/vocals, and the unmistakable sound of a young Aimee Mann leading the way. This 1982 release actually has half of 'Til Tuesday, with singer Aimee Mann and a guest appearance by her eventual drummer (and eventual manager), Michael Hausman. It's an ambitious debut with more funk than 'Til Tuesday and latter-day Aimee Mann would display. The songs are interesting: "Give Me Your Face" is along the lines of fellow local rockers New Man, while "Suit Me" is a lighter and more professional version of what Mission of Burma was cranking out at the time. The Young Snakes are more cohesive than Burma, their attack more precise, the message more clear. With Mann co-writing all five tunes with guitarist/vocalist Douglas Vargas, the state-of-mind hook of "Suit Me" on side one melts into "Don't Change Your Mind" on side two, a dreamy vocal with static instrumentation, the beginnings of the wonderful musical paradox which Mann would perfect on the first 'Til Tuesday album. "The Way the World Goes" plays with the exotic rock Yoko Ono would experiment with on the flip of John Lennon singles, the scratchy "Why" or "Walking on Thin Ice" guitars Ono had the honor of working with. "Not Enough" sounds like a relationship on the skids, with the voice struggling with the dilemma and the musicians reflecting it — a very original episode. This EP is absolutely important to get a handle on the early work of the eventual Oscar nominee (Magnolia soundtrack), and maybe a re-release of this, along with live Young Snakes material and the superb 'Til Tuesday demos (if memory serves, produced by Will Garrett), would be a treat for the fans who visit her web page. This first effort by Aimee Mann is something she can be proud of.

Review by Joe Viglione

"Until Your Love Comes Back Around" hit Top 30 in February of 1992, and helped forge a new identity for ex-Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau as well as perpetual Boston member, vocalist Brad Delp. Definite '80s rock, the opening track, "Face the Music," could have worked on a latter day Starship album as well. On paper this looked like a huge act. The stadium veteran Delp fronting what became Peter Wolf's band, bassist Tim Archibald from New Man, California Raisins/Robert Ellis Orral drummer David Stefanelli, and keyboardist/songwriter Brian Maes. The latter three are also a self-contained unit known as Brian Maes & the Memory, and they brought a cohesion to RTZ which helped the Boston band refugees deliver the goods. "There's Another Side" is right up there with the opening track, a grade-A effort, only overshadowed by the beauty of the hit ballad "Until Your Love Comes Back Around." Live they would perform "Dreams," the song from the Barry Goudreau album that Tom Scholz allegedly felt sounded TOO much like his group, Boston. They were careful with Return to Zero to lean more towards Brad Delp's pop side, "All You've Got" a perfect example proving Goudreau and Delp a formidable writing team. Chris Lord-Alge's production is straightforward, no nonsense let's capture this excellent band exactly as they are. Goudreau's guitar bursts on "All You've Got" are short and sweet, and combine his masterful playing with a bit of the band Boston's magical sound. Delp recorded three solo songs in the summer of 1988 at Mission Control Studios which went from Beatles to Steely Dan in the influences that made up their essence. That sound would have benefited RTZ in a very big way. Sure, "This Is My Life" has some of that tension as well as some of those ideas, but like most of this disc, the band becomes overpowering, and the material, although exquisite and beautiful, tends to sound dated. They manufactured a sound and stuck with it, but had these artists thrown a few more elements into this "debut," if it can be called that, they might have been able to penetrate part of the timeless Steely Dan/Beatles marketplace, and not just the arena rock domain they were aiming for. Perhaps what is truly amazing is that the millions upon millions of fans rabid for a new Boston album didn't devour this package which, despite its flaws, has a lot to offer. Between the variety of musicians there was an overabundance of good material, and Giant/Reprise, by not fostering a half a dozen or more albums, did the world a great disservice. "Rain Down on Me" is hard hitting without the excess of a Mickey Thomas, or the bombast that Journey tended to overdo. The music is big, but controlled, and all involved are cognizant of the ever important pop hook. Yes, it is '80s rock in the '90s, but if you are in the mood for that style of music, Return to Zero has integrity and will hold your interest.


Review by Joe Viglione

The release of the 11-track Lost album by Return to Zero on the Japanese Avalon label in 2000 found U.S. domestic re-release in 2005 on keyboard player Brian Maes' own Briola Records, with the exotic and very artsy Ron Pownall cover on the import replaced by drummer David Stefanelli's more subdued graphics and the disc retitled Lost in America by RTZ. It's terrific. Following the RTZ debut album and tour, the arena rockers recorded this material in Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau's basement, with Goudreau replacing Chris Lord-Alge as engineer/producer. The bandmembers embrace this sudden freedom of expression by dipping into a variety of pop bags that suit them very well. "Violent Days" is a sublime R.E.M.-style light rocker with a hook that won't quit. The enormous talents of Brad Delp have always been restrained in the confines of the Boston project — his solo recordings along with his uncanny ability to sing the parts of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in his Beatles tribute, Beatlejuice, are evidence of his creative spark, perhaps the most underrated major star in Boston (the city). "Turn This Love Around" is certainly a strange title for a band that hit the Billboard Top 40 with Brian Maes' "Until Your Love Comes Back Around," this unique and different composition written by Delp, Goudreau, and drummer Dave Stefanelli. It's a majestic Brit-pop episode resplendent in George Harrison-style guitars. "One in a Million," with its '50s flavors, could easily have fit on Robert Plant's Honeydrippers project. OK, maybe RTZ have more of a modern edge, so they take that vintage R&B and bring it to the end of the century. "Change for Change" could be a long-lost sequel to 1989's "Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears — plenty of "I Am the Walrus" flavors to go round — while the slick structure of the opening track, "When You Love Someone," leans more toward Jefferson Starship or, dare it be suggested, Orion the Hunter by way of Bryan Adams. It's a melting pot of styles culminating in a nod to, of all people, Eric Carmen's Raspberries on "Dangerous," concluding the album with a driving pop sound good for cruising around with the convertible top down. The frivolity is welcome, as this essential follow-up has a much more relaxed feel than its predecessor. The balance brought by way of the light atmosphere does not in any way inhibit the Byrds-meets-Traveling Wilburys folk-rocker "Don't Lead Me On" from succinctly offering some of the CD's best moments and reiterating them in one song. It's one of the rare moments when Uncle Irving let one get away, and that's a pity. Much of this album deserves to be played over and over again on the radio.


By Joe Viglione
GateHouse Media

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Brad Delp was probably the most obscure superstar in the history of rock and roll. Think about it for a moment. The fellow who went to Danvers High School was the voice on recordings that sold in the same multi-platinum (platinum equals a million sales) league as the Beatles, Whitney Houston, Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones and others in that select and elite group. But where a David Lee Roth or a Sammy Hagar could emerge as a “name” from inside the Van Halen household, the band Boston was always synonymous with Tom Scholz.

The kids who purchased Boston albums never really got to see Brad Delp, the recording artist. They got to hear a rock star reach amazing notes to complement the equally amazing guitar-based songs of Tom Scholz.

Scholz, as leader of the band Boston, has gotten a lot of negative press since the tragic suicide of his group’s most familiar lead vocalist, but that is because it sells papers. Anyone being part of something that huge has to just thank his lucky stars. Will there be battles when a band hits the big time? Absolutely — look at all the names mentioned above.

Why Brad Delp didn’t utilize the platform to go forth on his own as Steve Perry from Journey did, as Lou Gramm from Foreigner did, as so many frontmen in rock were able to do, had to do with his own personality more than his talent not being marketed properly. His talent was enormous and this writer is probably more aware of it than most: I was the manager of Mission Control Studios in the summer of 1988, and it was the solo recordings by Brad Delp that were among some of the most magical moments these ears heard that summer.

When The Cars’ vocalist Ben Orr died of pancreatic cancer on Oct. 3, 2000, it was a major tragedy — the true end of The Cars. But Ben’s five-month battle with cancer was one of those hopeless situations that one approaches with resignation, sadness, and the thought that there was nothing else that could be done. The suicide of Brad Delp, on the other hand, sent shockwaves through the New England music community. No one saw this coming, including this writer.

Loose ends, sleepless nights

I met with Brad on Feb. 10 at The Regent Theater after a Beatlejuice performance. He saw me as he was signing autographs and said “Joe, wait there!” So I patiently waited for the fellow I first met in 1988 (though he appeared on a Jim Femino track, “Party Tonight,” that my record label issued in 1983). You’ve heard the rumors about him being “the nicest guy in rock and roll,” and outside of his untimely passing and the way it was done, he truly was.

So here I am a day shy of a month before Brad would leave us and he’s talking to me about my North Shore Sunday article on the late Jo Jo Laine, a girl he dated in the early 1970s when they lived on in Danvers. These two people from the same street were drawn to the same music — both attended the Beatles at Suffolk Downs in 1966, though separately. Both became larger than life and both remained a lot more obscure than they should’ve been.

“Hey Joe...Great To Finally Meet You! Best of luck! Brad Delp Boston 88!” says the autograph on this writer’s copy of the Third Stage album from the group known as Boston. Perhaps Brad’s humility was part of what kept him from being a household name, despite being the voice on the biggest selling debut in rock history. According to About.com, the first “Boston” album has sold 17 million units as of 2003 — 17 million units and every track a staple on classic rock radio. Oldies as well as classic rock, satellite radio stations and college DJs all play “More Than A Feeling” repeatedly, the voice of Brad Delp echoing out of radios and iPods everywhere.

There are so many loose ends with this untimely death that it has generated many sleepless nights for those who knew the singer. He is larger than life in death, larger than he ever was performing to hundreds of thousands of fans over the years. Millions and millions buying his voice on record, millions and millions more hearing that voice on the radio. He is probably the biggest unknown superstar of all time. Think about it. How does one sell that many records without being a household name until his eerie and troubling death?

Those who knew Brad personally were especially rattled by the event. David Bieber of the Boston Phoenix noted that former Boston manager, Charlie McKenzie, passed away five years earlier almost to the day — I believe it was March 8, 2002. A fellow who opened for the band Boston, singer Bobby Hebb, said three words to me when we spoke: “We lost Brad.”

Bradley saw the legendary Bobby Hebb, former Rockport resident, perform “Sunny” on Aug. 18, 1966 at Suffolk Downs, opening for The Beatles. When I saw him Feb. 10, Brad agreed to do an interview regarding Bobby’s performance with Mr. Hebb’s biographer, who coincidentally lives a few blocks away from The Regent Theater where Beatlejuice played. When I mentioned that Beatlejuice, Bobby Hebb, The Remains, The Ronettes and The Cyrkle should all do a Beatles 41st anniversary reunion show, Brad noted that he would be on tour with Boston, and that he would be getting married that very day, Aug. 18, 2007.

One wonders if a man is about to be married, is going on tour with one of the biggest bands in the world, and is happy playing the songs of his favorite band, the Beatles, why he would kill himself in such a determined, uncharacteristic and harrowing way.

A man in crisis

Let me clarify this. I have only had kind, wonderful and pleasant thoughts of Brad Delp ever since meeting him in 1988. He was a nice person I knew, though we were never close friends or even associates — we were two individuals who traveled the same circles who shared a mutual respect. We had wonderful conversations when we did get to talk to one another.

Now I’m downright angry. Angry that if he had a mental illness, why no one close to him did anything about it. Why didn’t record industry didn’t have safeguards in place to protect such an important voice? That question can be said of many, many great artists, and just shows how skewed the priorities in the record industry are. Protect the copyright over flesh and blood human beings!

For the past week I’ve not been able to sleep well, ever since the news of his passing by his own hand. I could be OK with it if he had had a heart attack or passed away as Ben Orr did, because of an illness, but not this way, not an exit that is both grisly, chilling and destructive to those who loved his voice and who appreciated him.

It is shocking that I never saw this coming. Looking into his eyes and speaking to him exactly one month before his death gave me no indication that he was a man in crisis.

Meanwhile, Brad did have a hit without Boston. It came in 1992 with his band RTZ, featuring Tim Archibald, Brian Maes and Barry Goudreau, a group of musicians who created incredible music with Brad that went pretty much unappreciated.

There are three RTZ albums available and if you are looking to remember this great singer, seek them out. They are treasures and show more of the man’s talent, more than just what the world knows from the hit songs of the band Boston.

My hope is that Brad Delp pulled a Jim Morrison and vanished to parts unknown. I don’t think it is fair to blame Tom Scholz — those in the know realize it is a much more complex situation than that, and over time more of the story will unfold. In a world where life seems to have little value, where we read of so much tragedy that the old cliché “one death is a tragedy, hundreds are statistics” becomes all the more telling.

There is anger here because so many people claim they loved and cared for Brad, but if they did, it didn’t help in the end. And Brad Delp was one life worth saving.

Joe Viglione is a freelance writer.


Review by Joe Viglione

Producer Joshiah Spaulding released the American version of Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green's In the Skies disc on his Sail Records in 1979, and, two years later, the man who would run the prestigious Wang Center in Boston, Spaulding, helps keyboardist Robert Ellis Orrall create his Fixation album. Randy Roos of Orchestra Luna shows up as a guest artist here, and it is kind of coincidental because the bands that emerged from that outfit, the original Luna and Berlin Airlift, were creating many of the sounds that canvas this album. Robert Ellis Orrall takes Rick Kinscherf's quirky and eccentric ideas and makes them mainstream, veering off into a Joe Jackson kind of arena, especially on "How Can She (Even Like That Guy)," which is a slight re-write of the Joe Jackson Group's "Is She Really Going Out With Him." The material isn't all that original, but it is very good; a song like "Actually" has its moments, and "Call The Uh-Oh Squad" got regional play for the singer/songwriter, and deservedly so. It is a standout novelty track you wouldn't expect to hear from this crew. In two years time, Orrall would hit the Top 30 with Carlene Carter on a song released from his Special Pain EP, and these beginnings on Why-Fi/RCA are a nice start with the calliope keyboard sounds and Orrall's intense and heartfelt vocals. As Joe Jackson borrowed heavily from Elvis Costello, the Robert Ellis Orrall group borrows heavily from Jackson and Rick Berlin, these short two- and three-minute songs following in Costello's footsteps as well. Orrall's material would get stronger, more polished, and he and his group would forge an identity of their own, but while Fixation draws from many elements, it is a worthwhile first chapter for the Lynnfield, MA, native who circumvented Boston's underground rock scene, while becoming an essential part of it because of the major-label releases. David Stefanelli of RTZ, the Beloved Few, and the California Raisins is on drums keeping things grooving, as he always does, and Fixation has moments which hold up well years after its recording.


Review by Joe Viglione

As each early-'80s album by Robert Ellis Orrall progressed, they got better and better. "Walking Through Landmines" is very smart dance music, leaning towards modern rock. Fusing the slick Roxy Music avant-garde with the most commercial aspects of underground rock, Orrall's musical journey becomes all the more inviting. "She Takes a Chance" is exotic, and the inclusion of drummer David Stefanelli's first wife, Jane Balmond, brings a bit of Berlin Airlift, Balmond's former band, into the mix. Robert Ellis Orrall was very much a mass-market version of what Rick Berlin was up to at the time, so it is all very logical. "Alibi" has producer Roger Bechirian co-writing with the singer and musician Simon Byrne, and the song is as solid as the rest of the work here. "Kids With Guns" takes Robert's "Call The Uh Oh Squad" from his Fixation LP to another level, as this natural extension to Special Pain provides the songwriter/vocalist a chance to stretch. Keyboard player Brian Maes and drummer Stefanelli also performed on Bechirian's production of Simon Byrne, who sings background vocals on this disc. They would later back Brad Delp and Barry Goudreau of the band Boston, whose RTZ hit in 1992 with Maes' "Until Your Love Comes Back Around." As good as Contain Yourself is, with "(I Hear) Your Heartbeat" and "Spitting in Fatsos Eyes," one wonders if the bandmembers contributed a bit more how successful it could've been? Hawkwind/the Pogues engineer Paul Cobbold brings the techno sound he gave to the opening track, "Walking Through Landmines," back to his production work on "Little Bits of Love," the only two songs Bechirian did not have participation on; it sounds a bit like Peter Godwin's "Images of Heaven," the techno of "There's Nothing Wrong With You" following suit. "That Dream" is as consistent as everything else on Contain Yourself, an excellent effort by a group that should have put out a dozen or so records.


Review by Joe Viglione

Two years after his Why-Fi/RCA debut, Fixation, the sound of Robert Ellis Orrall here is much more polished, as is the look, and it is all ready for prime time. "Tell Me If It Hurts" kicks off this maxi-EP; a great cover photo of the singer has him looking ever so serious, and the music is just that, with the title of the disc, Special Pain, taken from a line in the opening song. Roger Bechirian's production is much more contemporary than that which Joshiah Spaulding got on Fixation; there is more depth, with the group sounding like the Fixx, whose "Saved By Zero" was out this same year (maybe the EP should have been called FIXXation 2!). The guitar is grittier, the saxophone subdued, and David Stefanelli's drums rock like that other famous Boston drummer named David, David Robinson of the Cars. It's a major progression for the group, and it's too bad "Senseless" wasn't a big, big hit, but that's OK because "I Couldn't Say No," a duet with Carlene Carter, was. Producer Bechirian worked with Carter's one-time husband, Nick Lowe, as well as Elvis Costello, the Monkees, Wang Chung, and others. He also produced Carter's C'est C Bon album this same year, 1983. The amusing thing is that, where Fixation copped Costello in many ways, the band found itself working with that artist's engineer/producer and came off sounding like a Rupert Hine production — not a bad thing at all. "Facts and Figures" even has that "Saved By Zero" feel; the smart sounds of British pop for a Boston band were just what the doctor ordered. It's great stuff, and a shame it is limited to five tracks of a mini-LP. The hit is an anomaly; it went Top 30 that spring with heavy vocals and a slick pop sound a little different from the rest of this disc, but just as exhilarating.


Review by Joe Viglione

"Andy Fell," "Pound," and "Land of the Glass Pinecones" are three extraordinary pieces of music on an equally extraordinary album. For those who felt producer Mike Thorne missed the mark with til tuesday and some of The Shirts Street Light Shine album, he redeems himself here recording this essential Boston band with accuracy, something many of the contemporaries of Human Sexual Response failed to get, great production. Andy didn't fall in "Andy Fell," nor was he pushed. He jumped. It's a song about suicide at a dormitory, a frightening and haunting prophecy since this practice became in vogue at campuses around Boston in the late 90s. The drums on "Marone Offering" kick right in, as does Rich Gilbert's incessant guitar. The band's genius was generated by the multiple vocalists fronting a perfect rock unit. Imagine a hard rock Temptations during their experimental period fronted by the B-52's. It's a strange mixture that worked thanks to a combination of talents, all who contributed mightily. "Keep A Southern Exposure" is not one of the band's more well known tunes, but it provides insight towards their unlimited creativity and able to execute. Discovered by Don Rose who went on to form the legendary Rykodisc label before it was purchased by Chris Blackwell, the two HSR Passport albums were re-released on Eat Records, distributed by Rykodisc. Eat was Don Rose's imprint prior to the creation of Rykodisc. "Blow Up" is the closest they came to sounding like The B52's, a violent song about destruction with the classic line "faster pussycats kill kill." "House Of Atreus" is a strange one, a long Larry Bangor epistle which leads into what might be their finest moment, "Land Of The Glass Pinecones." This song takes the theme of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" even deeper. Though "What Does Sex Mean To Me" from the first album got into the film Threesome, and while both the demo and lp version of "Jackie O'Nassis" became hits as well as their signature tune, "Land Of The Glass Pinecones" is a sacred moment in modern rock. It's pure magic with intense voices and blitzing bass and guitars. Members of this band branched off to become The Zulus, while Dini Lamot re-emerged as the successful and highly notorious drag queen Musty Chiffon, including Jackie O'Nassis in his stage act. Outside of a few "reunion" gigs, this essential act is no more, yet In A Roman Mood remains a tremendous work of art just waiting to be rediscovered. Seek out the 12" single of "Pound from this LP.

Review by Joe Viglione

For fans of arena rockers New England who wanted and needed more from John Fannon, Gary Shea, Jimmy Waldo and drummer Hirsh Gardner there were obscure tapes by many artists utilizing the group's trademark sound, Fannon and Gardner producing recordings when New England went their separate ways in 1983. 15 years after the breakup, New York's GB Music re-issued the original three-LP catalog on CD including a 20th anniversary, 10-song collection of demos for a fourth disc, "New England -1978". The liner notes implied that the band may reunite. And reunite they did, for a couple of moments, on Hirsh Gardner's long awaited solo album, Wasteland for Broken Hearts. The band showed up on the excellent final track, "More Than You'll Ever Know," a song with a theme similar to their 1979 Top 40 hit, "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya," and on "Welcome Home," co-written by John Fannon: another fine song which seems like a sequel to the group's "Explorer Suite," the title track to their second album from 1980. As fellow Bostonian Willie Alexander found his music being released in Japan on the Captain Trip label, GB Music licensed this to the Japanese company Marquee.

Wasteland for Broken Hearts is a remarkable record, engineered and produced by Gardner, who wrote all the songs, with the exception of the aforementioned "Welcome Home," as well as a cover of John Spinks' 1986 Top 10 hit with his band The Outfield, "Your Love." "Your Love" is most impressive, and though it complements the work well, the nugget here is the title track. "Wasteland for Broken Hearts" has Buddy Sullivan on bass and lead guitars with Gardner providing vocals, drums and keyboards. It is an amazing re-creation of the New England sound and is everything that group's fans could hope for. "Don't You Steal" continues the assault; it's a solid picture of the music Gardner is so familiar with, the singer/composer again playing drums and keys with Jim Smith on lead and rhythm and Chris Carvallo on bass. What is happening on this disc is that different musicians step up to the plate giving the songs subtle flavoring while maintaining the precise vocal-heavy dreamy crunch New England's fan base adores. Andre Maquera adds his bass and guitar to "She Is Love." The first three songs very, very strong. The pair are joined by two more musicians for "Thunder In Her Heart," with double bass on a tune that would no doubt have garnered more chart action for the group Asia. Gardner's wife, Tracie Gardner, who met Hirsh in the 1980s when he was producing her Boston band "The Core", shows up on the pretty "When The Sky Cries," along with Michela Gardner, and on "Hold Me In Your Dreams," which former New England producer and Kiss member Paul Stanley would be wise to cover. This album is a complete and sterling work by a journeyman artist staying true to the sounds he has worked with for over 25 years.


One live track, three studio, all written or co-written by Robin Lane, and the last gasp from The Chartbusters before their reunion in June of 2001 is this four song E.P. from 1984. Gone is Leroy

replaced by keyboardist Wally J. Baier and "additional guitarist" Billy Loosigian from The Joneses / Willie Alexander's Boom Boom Band. Cool double entendre is this "old message" with better production values than the three Warner Brothers releases. Andy Pratt keyboard player and Arista artist himself Andy Mendelson engineered allowing The Chartbusters the total control they never had on the major label discs. It shows with vastly improved sound and fury. The Heart Connection e.p. has an authority that the band exuded in live performance at clubs in and around Boston, and would be a delight coupled on cd with their Deli Platters three song single which generated so much interest when Robin Lane hooked up with the ex-members of The Modern Lovers.

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