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Nightwork - 1986 Nightwork

ARTIST: Nightwork
ALBUM: Nightwork
LABEL: Nightsongs
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: Ric Swanson - vocals, guitars * Chris Watkins - bass * Tim Saunders - drums, percussion * Jeffrey Doyle - guitars, vocals * Jamie Vallejo - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hit On The Radio * 02 Another Night * 03 Steal Away * 04 Let Me In * 05 Hold On To Paradise * 06 Streetheart * 07 Like I Do

The state of Texas had a burgeoning AOR underground throughout the 1980's, perhaps the most famous artist being multi-instrumentalist Michael Morales (currently undergoing a period of incarceration courtesy of the US government I believe) whose first album spawned several US hit singles. Not as well known, but equally deserving of attention are Nightwork who released their eponymous album in 1986. Ric Swanson, Chris Watkins, Jamie Vallejo, and Tim Saunders were all ex-members of Winterkat, their fellow guitarist Jonathan Grell being the sole remaining member, who went on to release Winterkat's follow up 'The Struggle' (was Grell's 'Billy No Mates' predicament the inspiration for the title - who knows?) Nightwork's album has a rather tacky cover which depicts a woman adopting a sultry pose alongside the sign 'Nightwork'. Hmmm, I don't suppose the band numbered ardent feminists amongst their demographic fan base!

The Songs
Fortunately the band redeem themselves by displaying considerably more subtlety when it comes to delivering the goods musically. This time around Ric Swanson and his cohorts decided to adopt a more overtly commercial stance than the progressive hard rock tendencies of Winterkat. This is never more obvious than on the racy opener 'Hit On The Radio' and it's infectious chorus which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The Nightwork sound consists of big hook laden choruses, lush keyboards, and twin guitars that riff effectively, though without ever breaking into a proverbial sweat. If I was trying to find a reference point for their brand of AOR I would say their approach bears comparison to the long lamented Preview, in fact Ric Swanson's vocal stylings do come across as similar to those of Jon Fiore (who coincidentally gets a name check on the sleeve). Whilst it's true there is nothing startlingly original about Nightwork's approach to AOR, it is all done effortlessly with considerable panache. Indeed you get the impression that these guys could perform this style of music in their sleep. There is also a nagging familiarity about the songs which remain buried in your consciousness long after they've been heard. If I was thinking of the album's highlights I would name the moody 'Another Night', 'Let Me In', which is full of light and shade, and the immediacy of 'Hold On To Paradise' where keyboards and guitar are in near perfect juxtaposition.

In Summary
Whilst no longer playing melodic rock, Ric Swanson and the various members of Nightwork are still musically active and Ric Swanson in particular is performing with the excellent roots rock outfit Our Religion. As a footnote, I understand from Ric Swanson that there is a possibility that the Nightwork album could see the light of day on CD at some point in the near future, and you therefore might want to re-consider parting with your hard earned cash to pay the ludicrously high prices charged by some Collectors for this album.

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#1 | swazi on March 27 2011 16:33:13
Absolutely sensational stuff! Rock Candy, PLEASE give us a CD reissue! flower
#2 | windsofmarch on April 17 2012 23:25:12
Preview meets Harlequin.Great record.
#3 | super80boy on May 29 2016 22:54:35
A remarkable seven song set that will unfortunately cost you big if you can find it. I acquired a vinyl copy many years back as I lost patience waiting for a possible reissue, which to my knowledge, sadly still hasn't materialized. Another pleads out for a well deserved reissue treatment.

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