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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » SPYS - 1982 SPYS
SPYS - 1982 SPYS

LABEL: EMI America
SERIAL: ST-17073
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1996, Renaissance, RMED-115 (2 on 1 with 'Behind Enemy Lines') * 2012, Rock Candy Records, CANDY159
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records


LINEUP: John Blanco - vocals * John DiGaudio - guitars, vocals * Al Greenwood - keyboards, vocals * Ed Gagliardi - bass, vocals * Billy Milne - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Don't Run My Life * 02 She Can't Wait * 03 Ice Age * 04 Danger * 05 Over Her * 06 Desiree * 07 Don't Say Goodbye * 08 Into The Light * 09 Hold On (When You Feel You're Falling) * 10 No Harm Done

When you talk about the musical genre 'AOR', many will admit that its days have long been surpassed. When you talk about the quintessential AOR album, many will talk about the likes of Journey, I-Ten, Arcangel, Preview, Aldo Nova etc. But lurking out the back is the Long Island outfit SPYS, which has AOR stamped all over it. SPYS was borne from the marriage of three bands: Harpy (Blanco and DiGaudio), Foreigner (Gagliardi and Greenwood), and the Billy Falcon Band (Milne). The full band line-up came together in the middle of 1980 after their prior gigs ended, for one reason or another. After putting on a rushed 40 minute showcase gig for A&R reps, the band came away with a deal, signed to EMI America. Many of the songs were written by the trio of Blanco, DiGaudio and Gagliardi, the first three members to combine for SPYS. However, it wasn't until two years later that the album was eventually released. The result, a true AOR masterpiece, appreciated and acknowledged as such by fans of the genre. Of course, we can't forget the immense production from the acclaimed Neil Kernon. Wunderbar! The album has been written and raved about in many publications, but the fact remains, it did very little at the Box Office. SPYS also had to contend with the changing nature of business in the music industry. Out went big tours, in came MTV, hence the band releasing 'She Can't Wait' as their token video effort.

The Songs
If there is one term that is synonymous with this album, it would be a 'sense of urgency'. A ton of lyrical and musical drama, played out in a commercial environment, unlike the prog like backgrounds experienced by the band members in prior lives. Tracks like 'Don't Run My Life' and 'Over Her' drive hard. The keyboard splashes from Al Greenwood really sink in on tracks like 'Ice Age' and 'Into The Night', air keyboardists could get drunk on these two tunes! The track 'Danger' is similar in style to the material we heard on 'Behind Enemy Lines', while 'Desiree', with stabbing pianos intact has an inkling of Franke And The Knockouts in the mix. Their ballad 'Hold On (When You Feel You're Falling)' is one that I have admired for twenty plus years. It remains for me, a personal highlight and one of the most memorable ballads I've come across.

In Summary
SPYS toured throughout the eastern parts of the USA in support of the album, touring mainly with 38 Special. However EMI America weren't that great in supporting the band, a tale of woe that would manifest by the time their second album 'Behind Enemy Lines' was released a year later. Unfortunately 1983 was as far as the band would go, due to the poor label support and indifferent sales. For more reading on the entire tale of SPYS, read the 2002 interview with John Blanco (refer 'Related Articles' below). Great band, tragic ending.. so the story goes.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
This album is basically a case of: see 'She Can't Wait' on MTV, grab the car keys (I was a young 16 at the time), drive to the mall, buy the record, listen to it very frequently for the next 25+ years (eventually getting it on CD). Definitely one of my all-time faves. The follow-up greatly disappointed me at first, although I've warmed up to it somewhat after getting the 2-for-1 CD with both albums.
#2 | Emda on May 10 2008 23:24:52
Without a doubt my favourite album of all time! 'Dont'Run My Life', 'Danger', 'Over Her', 'Desiree', 'Hold On (When You Feel You're Falling' are soooooo great...can anyone get the SPYS members together again in the studio....please!
#3 | dangerzone on May 10 2008 23:58:11
Even if they did it wouldn't sound anything like this.
#4 | Jez on June 13 2008 04:55:13
This is and will always be one of the best ever debut cd's ever released in it's field, and i mean EVER released period. Remember getting this when it came out and playing it to death, which i still do to this day on cd. it
#5 | richardb on June 13 2008 09:04:58
I think what made this a really great debut was that they had their unique sound in a very overcrowded genre at the time 'Hold on' is one of my favourite AOR ballads of all time.

Richard B
#6 | rostoned on December 29 2008 01:54:52
The fantastic cover illustration was done by legendary science fiction and fantasy artist Michael Whelan. Check his works here http://www.michae...
#7 | Nick C on February 09 2010 05:34:56
This is for me a benchmark AOR album, in fact I would say it is very possibly my fave AOR album ever. Their second album was no slouch either. Perfection...on both counts!
#8 | RobLynott on February 19 2010 11:49:45
Agree with everybody else here. An absolut stunner of an AOR album, not a bad note in sight. "Over her" is beyond awesome music
#9 | george_the_jack on February 19 2010 18:25:29
I have never been that impressed with this one.Pretty decent AOR but not exceptional IMO.Most notable thing in the album is the extraordinaire Al Greenwood's playing.I've always been a fan of his work.No doubt a true keyboad wizard.
#10 | Eric on February 19 2010 21:45:13
That's surprising GTJ. For me this is one of the best AOR albums of the early 80's. 'She Can't Wait' kicks ass and 'Hold On...' is a sheer beauty...We actually talked to John Blanco about joining Starcastle at one point...
#11 | george_the_jack on February 19 2010 23:28:24
I was sure there were be different opinions from mine Eric.It's certainly not a bad record.I could never make such a claim.What we have here is great production and musicianship breathing the air of that golder age for AOR music. The two songs you mention are great indeed but the album as a whole lacks inspiration IMHO.It doesn't preserve the high quality standards(of these 2 for e.g.) from the beginning to the end. I remember reading that this band considered some kind of Foreigner's ''lost orphans' or twins.This comparison at the end of the day maybe it's not for the best.John Blanco is undoubtedly a very strong vocalist.
#12 | Eric on February 20 2010 00:10:09
I hear ya G-T-J. I feel the same way about a lot of the mid-late 80's AOR bands that many here really like that I just don't get, but that's what makes GD great- plenty of room for different viewpoints. By the way- I didn't care for the second SPYS album at all....
#13 | george_the_jack on February 20 2010 00:34:00
Seems that on the next album they tried to produce a more personalized sound detaching themselves from the Foreigner patern....
#14 | Eric on February 20 2010 03:16:08
Yeah and yet, it didn't seem to gel....
#15 | gdazegod on February 20 2010 06:56:50
Haha.. and I will disagree with all of ya.. I love both albums.. that's a real interesting revelation about trying to get Blanco to hook on with Starcastle Eric.. 70's, 80's or more recently?
#16 | Eric on February 20 2010 14:38:13
Both Gary Strater and I talked to John about the opportunity just prior to recording 'Song of Times' and finding Al Lewis from Alaska. Gary really liked his voice and personality and wanted him for lead vocalist. John was a big fan of the band going way back, but I think his job at that time and the driving distance to Champaign just didn't make it possible. We also talked to the guy from Mara who one of the SC guys knew and a few other 'names' that escape my memory at the moment.
#17 | Eric on February 21 2010 04:45:48
Now I remember -the guy from Art in America and in the 70's from what I have been told after Terry L. was fired- Mickey Thomas just prior to joining J. Starship and another AOR mover and shaker who had huge/ monster hits in the 80's. Hmmm..hmm!
#18 | gdazegod on February 21 2010 06:37:45
Gosh Eric, the fountain of knowledge explodeth~~~!
#19 | reyno-roxx on February 21 2010 10:21:30
Fantastic album. And, like George, I loved the second record just as much. Hey, it had Bob Kulick on that sophomore release after all!
#20 | Eric on February 21 2010 15:26:00
Nothing to do with me- just what happened. SC knew Thomas from opening Elvin Bishop shows in '76...
#21 | trillion1999 on October 17 2011 10:22:23
My favorite-track is No Harm Done.Michael Whelan FTW.rolleyes
#22 | rkbluez on May 23 2012 23:24:26
Pulled this one out today haven't played it in a few years with all of the releases flooding the market nowadays...still after all these years it's still an amazing glad Rock Candy has decided to reissue this gem...and it's something I'll be sure and pre order for sure...simply amazing debut.
#23 | Metal Loaf on April 13 2013 19:38:27
The Rock Candy reissue sounds as good as you can expect. The songwriting on this album is really something else; I can't get enough of 'Desiree' and 'Don't Run My Life' in particular. They play brilliantly, they write brilliantly, faultess AOR, really. They should've been at least as big as Foreigner.
#24 | retroaddict on April 14 2013 00:42:20
Great album, but my only problem with it is that there is a different(and imo, slightly superior) mix of "She Can't Wait" that was featured in the MTV video. I don't think it ever got released on vinyl, but I could be wrong.
#25 | gdazegod on December 29 2013 13:07:34
Yes, the MTV video mix is very different to the album version.

YouTube Video:
#26 | super80boy on July 20 2014 15:11:13
Driving passionate insistent melodies are the hallmarks of this AOR gem debut effort. I can hear the Foreigner comparisons in 'Danger' and 'Desiree'. How people can be critical of this album is crazy, this is a top drawer effort that could have competed at the highest levels with all the big boys back in the day. Even the guys from AOR Classics gave this album a 10/10 in their 1994 review…and they could get pretty critical at times.
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