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Hitchcock, 1988 Russell - Russell Hitchcock

ARTIST: Hitchcock, Russell
ALBUM: Russell Hitchcock
LABEL: Arista
SERIAL: 8456
YEAR: 1988


LINEUP: Russell Hitchcock - vocals * Cast of thousands - everything else!!!

TRACK LISTING: 01 Someone Who Believes In You * 02 The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore * 03 What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted * 04 I Come Alive * 05 The River Cried * 06 Dreams Of The Lonely * 07 Best Intentions * 08 I Can't Believe My Eyes * 09 Where Did The Feeling Go? * 10 Make It Feel Like Home Again

No kidding! You'll be surprised to see who's playing on this album. A veritable who's who of AOR, with some fantastic names to boot. This solo effort from the Air Supply vocal king-pin is definitely one to track down. After his band fluctuated on 1985's self titled effort which surprisingly did very poorly at the box office, despite being a very good album in it's own right, they disbanded the following year. Buoyed by the success of Michael Bolton's 'The Hunger' during 1987 (particularly 'Dock Of The Bay'), it is very clear that the songs selected for the Russell Hitchcock album were a crossover of old favourites, plus some absolutely storming mid-paced AOR! Before we get started, it must be stated that the Van Stephenson band/album membership all participate on this affair. This includes Dann Huff, Alan Pasqua, Mike Baird, and Dennis Bellfield. Elsewhere, names like Denny Carmassi, Robbie Buchanan, Bill Cuomo. Neil Stubenhaus and Tommy Funderburk all join in the musical frivolity. Amazing what a big budget can do huh? Clive Davis' Arista label does the honors, and the music is probably best summarised in three parts: reworks of old covers, lovely ballads, and a handful of tremendous AOR tunes.

The Songs
Lets look at the songs in that order. 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' is an old chestnut. It was written way back when by the duo of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio. Old timers will remember Crewe and Gaudio writing a string of hits, primarily during the mid-late sixties for the Four Seasons, but this one has been covered by all and sundry.. I mean, Neil Diamond, Cher and Frankie Valli (obviously), and a host of others. However this version is pretty good, rounded off by the soaring vocals of Hitchcock. Another chestnut, is the Witherspoon/Riser/Dean penned 'What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted' which is given the full production treatment, landing somewhere between gospel and AOR. Eek I hear you cry, but really, the final version is passable singalong stuff. The opener 'Someone Who Believes In You' (a Gerry Goffin/Carole King composition) is another well worn tune, but it's quite wimpy by comparison, and perhaps should have been further down the tracklist. Get those tunes out of the way, and we start navigating our way through a selection of classy AOR, stuff that AOR die-hards would kill for. And when you hear the guitar solos played by a certain D Huff, you just know that this stuff is worth tracking down, regardless of the other material on the album.

And if the pairing of Steinberg/Kelly guarantees some raised eyebrows, then look ahead to the pair of 'The River Cried' and 'Make It Feel Like Home Again', these two written by arguably the best songwriters in AOR during the eighties. Both are gorgeous tracks, the former is a sweeping piece of AOR, but the soppy 'love lost' lyrics on the latter makes for depressing reading. Thankfully the music brightens the misfortune of this poor sod (the one in the song)! The good news continues on the fabulous trio of 'I Come Alive', a hi-tech boppy sort of tune, rich with keyboards and dance oriented instrumentation. 'Best Intentions' is a tune written by the hit writing team of George Merrill and Shanon Rubicam (better known for their work with Whitney Houston), but this one is very 'rock-oriented'. And then there's the album's highpoint, 'Dreams Of The Lonely', written by Canadian Myles Hunter (Avalon/ Refugee). An absolute killer slice of AOR. Check it out where you can!

In Summary
Perhaps not the most consistent album you'll ever hear, but it does showcase the vocal class of Hitchcock, away from the sugary pop previously heard with Air Supply. I think Russell also turned out an unreleased album during 1989, demos or mp3's exist out there on the Net somewhere. I will need to track these down.. lol! As it turns out, the nineties version of Air Supply turned out to be a much more serious affair, particularly the stunning AOR of 'The Vanishing Race', bordering on class AOR, but of late, they've reverted to ho-hum and hum-drum soft pop. Oh well, never mind. Find this one instead!

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