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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Crane, Stephen - 1984 Kicks
Crane, Stephen - 1984 Kicks

ARTIST: Crane, Stephen
ALBUM: Kicks
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2016, Sunset Dreams Records (France), SR02


LINEUP: Stephen Crane - lead and background vocals, bass

Additional Musicians: Duane Sciaqua, Ray Pannell, Steve Lukather, Joey Brasler - guitars * Jai Winding, James Newton Howard, Steve Porcaro - keyboards, synthesizers * Jody Cortez, Jeff Porcaro, Dave Crockett - drums * Richard Page, Tom Kelly Steve Lukather, Duane Sciaqua - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Headed For A Heartbreak * 02 Joanne * 03 Kicks * 04 All My Love * 05 Victims Of Love * 06 I Can't Wait * 07 Back On My Feet Again * 08 I'll Take Care Of You * 09 Sooner Or Later * 10 Crying Don't Look Good On You

This is a highly under-rated major label AOR release which includes a stellar cast and was produced by Toto's Steve Lukather, together with Jai Winding who twiddled the dials for Le Roux on their legendary 'Up' album. Stephen Crane's first taste of musical fame was with Texas Boogie merchant's Baby who put out two albums in the mid 1970's, and perhaps were most notable for including respected blues guitarist Johnny Lee Schell in their line-up. More intriguingly though, Baby once auditioned a certain Steve Walsh, (yes he of Kansas fame) but ultimately decided not to hire him as keyboard player(!) Given Crane's previous track record then, one would have hardly predicted this change in musical direction, however, give the man a haircut, new stylist and the creme de la creme of LA's finest session players to play with and bingo - instant AOR classic!

The Songs
This album leans towards the heavier end of the AOR spectrum, guitars are dutifully served as the main course with keyboards more of a subtle garnish to the music. Stephen Crane's soulful, rasping vocals lend themselves well to the material and are in the Paul Sabu vein which is no bad thing in my book. Opener 'Headed For A Heartbreak' is a fine mid tempo rocker driven along by Crane's pounding bass and embellished by Messrs Lukather, Pannell's and Sciacqua's layered guitars. Heavy duty riffing ensues with 'Joanne', though it's killer hook ensures it's very radio friendly nonetheless. The tempo slows for the title cut which is a moody affair and is followed up by the obligatory power ballad 'All My Love'. Full marks here for Crane's impassioned vocals and Luke's top notch solo (as if we'd expect anything less from the man...) Side one closes with the high tempo urgency of 'Victims Of Love' featuring some truly brutal guitar work and punctuated by Lukather's frenetic display on the Farfisa organ. Joey Brasler delivers a blistering guitar solo midsection and you can almost picture Luke in the studio at the time nodding with approval at these antics. Over on the flip, 'I Can't Wait' is equally dynamic, powered along by a triumvirate of guitar players and this time it's Duane Sciacqua who has a chance to display his dexterity with the guitar. For me though, the album's highlight is the slow burning 'Back On My Feet Again' which is reminiscent of Toto in one of their more pompous moments and gives Lukather another opportunity to indulge in some frenzied fretboard action. 'I'll Take Care Of You' is another energetic workout in the vein of Van Stephenson and is followed by the swagger of 'Sooner Or Later'. The quality dips slightly for album closer the rather hackneyed power ballad 'Crying Don't Look Good On You'. Crane's vocal delivery sounds unconvincing for once - perhaps because he's been forced to sing such a cringe-inducing song title.

In Summary
I have to say I'm surprised there isn't more of a buzz about this album amongst the melodic rock community. Admittedly 1984 was a vintage year for melodic rock though to my ears at least this album stands tall among similar releases during the same time period. In short it's a superb album which should be a compulsive addition for a fans of Keane, Toto and Van Stephenson et al.

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#1 | rkbluez on March 16 2010 19:45:16
This album rocks a lot harder than it's been described here and Luke plays some great guitar to boot...if you like stuff like say Joe Lamont you'll like this album...too bad it's an MCA release with no CD reissue in sight...I cleaned a CDR version from my's definitely well worth picking up if AOR on the rockin' side is your thing.
#2 | swazi on March 17 2010 13:41:09
Do you mind sharing those tracks ? It would be great if you could upload the mp3 tracks! clap
#3 | gdazegod on March 19 2010 05:23:37
I have this as a fileshare Bernd. I'll put it up online when I get home. Didn't bring any music with me while on holiday.. for obvious reasons.. lol!
#4 | swazi on March 19 2010 23:28:24
Sounds like a great idea, George! Thanks!
#5 | richardb on June 09 2012 20:26:49
Just to set the record straight, I don't think this a lightweight record by any means. 'Victims of love' rocks hard in particular.

It's just a shame it ends on a low note with the rather turgid ballad 'Cryin' don't look good on you'

Richard B
#6 | super80boy on May 08 2016 15:38:19
You employ that much help by such an A-list musician group, especially in the guitar department, it's hard to screw up. Stephen took full advantage of the extra helpings of talent on tap and created a killer record. I really like the dominating guitar sounds throughout. The guitar talent really saves the day on the closing track, where Crane stumbles to get it done. Other than that minor speed bump, 'Kicks' consistently delivers and is an under-appreciated gem.
#7 | gdazegod on July 20 2016 00:05:25
I have read on Stephen Crane's Facebook page that 'Kicks' is getting an official CD release later in 2016. He says that it will be through a French label. Could that be Bad Reputation Records perhaps? On the hunt for more detail.. computer work

Link: [url][/youtube]
#8 | gdazegod on October 21 2016 12:14:19
Details now revealed.'Kicks's is being reissued in Nov 2016 by new label Sunset Dreams Records.
1000 copies, full-blown remaster from the original master tapes. Formats include CD and LP.
Check out the FB page:
#9 | richardb on October 30 2016 11:45:03
Thanks for the heads up on this one George. Good to see this one finally see the light of day on CD. May be tempted to shell out on this one.
#10 | Jez on December 13 2016 19:26:12
Just got the Sunset Dreams Re-issue. So good to hear this album in all it's glory again. My only one minor niggle with it is the mix and dominant drum sound throughout which could have been toned down a bit. Otherwise superb album
#11 | swazi on December 20 2016 21:09:50
Is the Sunset Dreams Re-issue really only available as LP + CD bundle??
#12 | gdazegod on December 20 2016 21:42:15
I believe so Bernd. Seems like a strange marketing strategy, considering sending LP's around the globe is prohibitively expensive.
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