ARTIST: Valenti, John
ALBUM: I Won't Change
CD REISSUE: 2001, BMG Funhouse (Japan), BVCM-37229 * 2011, Cobalt Hour (Holland), CH16
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: John Valenti - vocals * Mike Piccirillo - guitars * Scott Edwards, Kenny Burke, Eric Nelson - bass * Ed Green, Vince Colaiuta - drums * Bill Cuomo, Mike Piccirillo - keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Who Will It Be * 02 Did She Mention Me * 03 I'll Take You Back * 04 That's The Way Love Goes * 05 Best For You * 06 I Won't Change * 07 Stephanie * 08 Runnin' Scared * 09 Make It Up To You * 10 Fight For Love
Am I correct in assuming this to be an obscure West Coast classic? After all it was allegedly released only in Japan, a mystifying situation considering the albums excellence. Valenti was a Chicago native (born John Livigni) who got an early start in the music business in the mid sixties with his band The Outfit
. This same band renamed themselves as Puzzle
and recorded a pair of albums for Motown in the early 70's, a far cry from this albums direction. Valenti went solo, releasing 'Anything You Want' in 1976. 'I Won't Change' was intended to be the follow up but never saw daylight in the US. Fans of West Coast AOR were sorely deprived of this, as for 1980/81 Valenti ranked with the best male solo artists of the genre, think David Roberts
or John O Banion
, not to mention powerhouse acts at the time like Toto
The opening trio of 'Who Will It Be', 'Did She Mention Me' and 'I'll Take You Back' are without peers almost, the mellow West Coast strains handled to perfection, Valenti's vocals pure gold. The keyboard breaks and almost jazzy arrangements are a goldmine of melodic treats that wouldn't disappoint fans of Greg Guidry
's 1982 classic. The irresistibly upbeat 'That's The Way Love Goes' is another essential listen, the backing vocals pouring it on thick, in suitable Michael McDonald
fashion. The sax that permeates 'Best For You' is a breezy affair that was made for radio, as is the title track which brings so many comparisons to mind I'd need days to list them, but for some reason Valenti comes off as Stevie Wonder
on this one. The compulsory female ode comes in the shape of 'Stephanie', delicious keyboard accompaniments the highlight here. 'Runnin' Scared' is a slight failure chorus wise, quickly resolved by 'I'll Make It Up To You', far more repeat worthy. It all culminates in grand style with the finest moment saved for last, the stunning 'Fight For Love', an AOR feast that will require more listens than one can manage! The hook is right on the money, a true bit of craftsmanship.
What became of our hero is unknown, this appears to have been his last piece of vinyl. I wasn't aware of this marvellous platter before it was sent to me, but I can safely recommend it to any West Coast punster who might have never heard of it. Serious collectors probably own it already, and it's nice to be surprised by an album like this that you never knew existed. Valenti might have disappeared from the scene, but here's hoping he never did change.
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