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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Player - 1981 Spies Of Life
Player - 1981 Spies Of Life

ARTIST: Player
ALBUM: Spies Of Life
LABEL: RCA/Tuneworks
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2000, Magic (France), 5276672


LINEUP: Peter Beckett - guitars, lead vocals * John Friesen - drums * Miles Joseph - guitars, vocals * Rusty Buchanan - bass, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 If Looks Could Kill * 02 Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid * 03 Thank You For The Use Of Your Love * 04 It Only Hurts When I Breathe * 05 My Mind's Made Up * 06 I'd Rather Be Gone * 07 Take Me Back * 08 My Survival * 09 Born To Be With You * 10 In Like Flynn


Player are known to be one of the essential West Coast AOR bands along with Toto, Pablo Cruise, Ambrosia and large tracts of the Firefall catalogue. While their debut was pure West Coast, 'Danger Zone' elevated them into powerful AOR territory, followed by the Casablanca release 'Room With A View' (which seemed a combination of both). Despite the departure of longtime bassist Ron Moss (he would later find fame as Ridge Forrester in the soap Bold & The Beautiful), Beckett continued with a revised lineup and Player recorded what many consider their finest record - 'Spies Of Life'.

The Songs
'If Looks Could Kill' sets up a metronomic midtempo, and Player then weave some special hooks and melodies around it for a hypnotic Toto-like experience, especially at chorus time. A trio of west coast ballads follows : 'Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid' injects a little funk into the balladry, while the midsong bridge adds some welcome power. 'Thank You For The Use Of Your Love' slows things down to a crawl, and the requisite west coast syrup is poured on generously. 'It Only Hurts When I Breathe' explores the poor me theme fairly well, exposing Player's vaunted harmonising to good effect. 'My Mind's Made Up' changes gears back into rock territory though. A great choppy riff carries the verses into a strangely rewarding 70's soul device chorus which closes out well. Great song. 'I'd Rather Be Gone' is a level above the trio of ballads on side one. Hypnotic and unhurried, the chorus (carried by Beckett alone) is real class, even adding some powerful guitar into the mix. 'Take Me Back' invades barnstorming AOR territory with some serious riffage and vocal power, something like Toto in a blender with Triumph ! Great stuff. 'My Survival ' is, unlike the other ballads on display, a genuine power ballad in the Journey/707 tradition, scoring coffee points on all fronts. All out AOR is delivered in the form of 'Born To Be With You'. Cynics may level the AOR by numbers accusation but to no avail - the call and response chorus, great solo and momentum place it somewhere between 80's Firefall and 'One Eighty' era Ambrosia. 'In Like Flynn' is pretty much a novelty track intended as a nod to Erroll Flynn. It's entertaining but you can't help feeling that it's promising hooks are a little wasted in the 'novelty track' context, especially as an album closer.

In Summary
'Spies Of Life', although an AOR classic, met with a cold response and Player disbanded. This has happened to several bands (one example being Roadmaster after the towering 'Fortress' vinyl). It says a lot about how we shouldn't judge bands or albums on their level of commercial success, because marketing had (and still has) more to do with chart success than the quality of the material. This cd may still be available at, but don't hold your breath.

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#1 | dangerzone on January 10 2008 11:11:11
A true AOR masterpiece. Not much more you can say!
#2 | vinyldinosaurus on February 15 2008 19:12:48
According to my vinyl copy of this album, it was released in 1981 - not 1982.
#3 | gdazegod on February 15 2008 19:22:50
Yes, you are correct Vinyl. I will change the year.
#4 | rostoned on April 10 2008 17:49:51
I have a very soft spot for 'Danger Zone' over 'Player' and 'Room with a view', that 2nd is way rockier than the two others and the songs are great too! Am not familiar w/'Spies of life' (cool title) but a US still sealed vinyl copy is on its way from sunny LA...
#5 | Jez on June 13 2008 03:34:47
The 'piece de resistance' in the Player catologue and a release of Prime time Westcoast/AOR. As with the previous releases 'Danger Zone' & 'Room With A View' this is a perfect blend of the more uptempo AOR of 'Take Me Back' to the more Westcoast sound of 'If Looks Could Kill' and the typical Wimpy Player balladeering of ' Thankyou For The Use...' & 'I'd Rather Be Gone'. A great great album .
#6 | swazi on November 16 2011 15:00:50
Damn ...! Why is this thing so bloody expensive ?? pissed
#7 | swazi on April 03 2012 15:10:37
What do you guys think ? Is this the real deal ?

#8 | reyno-roxx on April 03 2012 15:53:31
Hmm...Korean pressing rings alarm bells for me.
#9 | swazi on April 03 2012 17:15:08
The seller is the same guy selling the BLUE ROSE Mini LP CD. That one looks and sounds very good, though.
#10 | gdazegod on April 03 2012 21:45:25
The price is US$19.99. That's the buy now price.. I'd snap it up quick!
#11 | swazi on April 17 2012 18:11:58
This Mini LP CD arrived today. What can I say ?! Well, I am pretty impressed! Another great package and a fantastic sound. Absolutely no regrets!
#12 | super80boy on August 25 2013 19:01:38
Another solid Player album with a decent mix of songs, although when they perform uptempo AOR (the infectious 'Take Me Back), I prefer that versus the slow moments. 'My Survival' has some good power in what is an overall ballad melody. The vinyl jacket artwork is cool.
#13 | melodiapositiva on September 07 2016 19:37:21
superb album! i 've been years looking for this on cd but the real thing is that it sounds awesome on vinyl, so i will not look for this on cd anymore .
Anyway lps are again in fashion Grin
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