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Piper - 1976 Piper

ALBUM: Piper
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2008, American Beat, 24882 (2 on 1 'Piper' and 'Can't Wait')


LINEUP: Billy Squier - lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, percussion * Alan Nolan - guitars, backing vocals * Tommy Gunn - guitars, backing vocals * Danny McGary - bass, backing vocals * Richie Fontana - drums, percussion, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Out Of Control * 02 What'cha Gonna Do * 03 The Road * 04 Sail Away * 05 Who's Your Boyfriend (I Got A Feelin') * 06 Telephone Relation * 07 The Last Time * 08 42nd Street * 09 Can't Live With Ya, Can't Live Without Ya


Some pop music scholars will tell you that music in mid-70's America was boring and superficial with of course the exception of the New York punk scene which spawned The Ramones, The Dictators and Blondie. Unless you owned albums by these over rated upstarts and the obligatory Velvet Underground debut, or were a regular at CBGB's, supposedly you didn't have a clue about 'real' music. I have never owned an album by any one from that 'politically' correct scene, but I can tell you that most of the people I hung out with back in the day were listening to KISS and Queen. Newer bands like Angel, Legs Diamond, Starz, Rex and Piper bridged a gap for the awkward, pimple faced, long haired teenagers (like yours truly) the New York hip culture could never hope (or wish) to fill. Critics be damned! Piper were based in Boston, Massachusetts and lead by one Billy Squier, who would find fame and fortune as a solo artist in the 1980's. In the heady days prior to the Van Halen debut, Piper were one of the hottest hard rock bands happening and with major management-Aucoin behind them who were already riding a blaze of glory with KISS, the group hit the road not only supporting the kabuki warriors, but also Blue Oyster Cult, The Runaways, Angel and Starcastle. A&M records worked Piper with heavy promotion and it looked for a short time at least, the group was on the fast track to bigger and better things.

The Songs
Did Piper on their debut have the music to back up the media blitz? Yes and no. Producer John Anthony better known for his work with progressive rock bands Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator gave the album a rough n' ready power pop sound, mixed with a little Aerosmith sleaze rock. There are some catchy tunes here including the Cheap Trick meets Foghat slip and slide 'Out Of Control' and the jangle of 'Who's Your Boyfriend? (I Got A Feelin')'. A cover of the Rolling Stones 'The Last Time' retains the energy of the original version and gets big thumbs up, although 'The Road' and 'Telephone Relation' fail to move me, or do much for the album and are really just filler.

In Summary
Piper's second album 'Can't Wait' failed to capture the imagination of record buyers, although it was musically superior to the debut. The band split with Squier eyeballing his now legendary solo career. Drummer Richie Fontana ended up working with Paul Stanley, Skatt Brothers and Laura Branigan, but the other members seem to have disappeared in the years since. Both Piper albums were released on CD in Japan back in the early 90's, but are now quite scarce and expensive. At least one Billy Squier compilation has featured Piper material, but let's hope both albums get a proper domestic reissue sooner than later.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on May 01 2008 10:07:04
Both Piper albums now available through American Beat. Sadly, it's a 2 on 1 package, but I'm not going to complain too much. A terrific band. Perhaps the King Biscuit show may appear at some point? I won;t hold my breath, but it was a good live set.
#2 | rkbluez on December 03 2009 00:07:14
Great this record as well as the second one...wish Billy Squier kept this band together instead of going solo...but it didn't happen and we still have two albums worth of Piper.
#3 | Nick C on January 16 2010 06:31:07
Two great albums, gotta say I can't find a filler track on this. Jagged and splintered pop-rock with no little amount of swagger.
#4 | rkbluez on April 14 2012 11:38:34
Hey Dave now that American Beat is you think the mighty Rock Candy could get their hands on reissuing these classic's the way they should be?
#5 | reyno-roxx on May 20 2012 13:53:24
I'd actually love to see both the Piper albums given the RC treatment. I'm fortunate to have obtained both Japanese CDs, but it would be nice to read Billy Squier's thoughts on the band now if, of course, he was willing to talk about the subject.
Incidentally, until fairly recently I had no idea that Richie Fontana (along with Pieter Sweval, Sean Delaney etc) had cut a second record with Skatt Bros. It was called 'Rico and The Ravens' and released only in Australia through PolyGram in 1981. The band had toured there with Men At Work opening for them.

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