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Topper - 1977 At Last

ARTIST: Topper
ALBUM: At Last
LABEL: Scot Records
SERIAL: T-9548
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Jim Hodges - lead vocals, drums, percussion * Larry Watson - guitar, vocals * Rudy Passonno - organ, piano, synthesizer, mellotron * Jackie Barrett - bass * Bob Brown - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Astral Plane * 02 Say What You Feel * 03 Smile For The Clown * 04 Phaze 1 (Prelude) * 05 Phaze 2 * 06 Devil's RX * 07 Hell's Fire

Here's one of those albums that always commands a high price tag that is if you are lucky to find a copy! I have very little information on Topper, where they come from or where they are now. There are a couple reviews on-line but they reveal little as to the origins of the group, and just in case you were wondering, no I don't own a copy of the original. What I am reviewing here is a decent sounding bootleg from the Japanese 'Poor House' label which is housed in a mini-LP sleeve. Anyone out there who owns an original and finds any incorrect info here, please let us know. Now on to the music.

The Songs
'At Last' is very much a product of its time. This was released in 1977 after all and the expected mixture of hard rock and progressive styles is very much in keeping with what was happening back in the day. Vocally, Jim Hodges runs a line between the Paul Rodgers and Gregg Rolie school of rock and it's easy to pick-up both Bad Company and early Journey in the music of Topper. Lot's of heavy riffing and keyboard interplay and some nice mellotron work featured on the standout track 'Smile For The Clown' borrowing from both Eric Clapton's 'Let It Grow' and Led Zeppelin's evergreen but overplayed 'Stairway To Heaven'. The remaining material is rather mediocre sounding like a second rate Styx on 'Phaze 2' and early Kansas on the acoustic dominated 'Devils RX'.

In Summary
Personally, I would be a little pissed off paying top dollar for a record like 'At Last' that really doesn't hold up too well to my well worn ears, although it is better than some other rare albums I've had the chance to hear. Seek out the boot and judge for yourselves.

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#1 | Harvey Mettle on September 03 2008 13:55:13
Now we're talking. Can anybody do me a copy of this in trade????????
#2 | journstyx on October 01 2008 00:24:13
Hi Eric,

Always looking for bands and albums I don't know about I came across your review of Topper. I actually have the original vinyl and I did some digging into the band's history. There's very little info out there. As far as I could trace they were a band from Kansas, while their label (Scot Records) was based in Missouri. They sold about 5000 units of the album. Their keyboard player Rudy (Passonno) seems to be the only visible band member out there, having formed a band called Isitope Finis, which seems very much a keyboard/synthesizer experience from what I gather. It's Rudy and his wife Bonnie. Isotope Finis has played shows with such artists as Charlie Daniels,Garland Jeffries, R.E.O. Speedwagon, Blue Oyster Cult, Detroit, Cactus, Poco, Black Oak Arkansas and, Jaco Pastorius. They released their first track on KY102 Homegrown Album in 1980, followed in 1996 with the release of their self titled album. I couldn't trace any of the other former members. Journstyx.
#3 | gdazegod on June 26 2010 16:44:19
Have seen a couple of recent Ebay auctions going on for this LP. As JS says, the band originated from Kansas City, MO, or thereabouts. One of the auctioned LP's is also signed by guitarist Larry Watson.
#4 | gdazegod on March 08 2011 23:01:59
Information provided by Jim Later. Thanks for this Jim..

'Hi, I was researching a recent vinyl find and came across your site. Eric's review asked anyone with more information from the original to send it, so here you go.

This is a Kansas City band from 1977. My research didn't net much, though the author of one track, Jules Blattner, is listed in Discogs as being from St. Louis. There is also a review online that I came across. Looks to have info a person wouldn't get from the disk alone.

I won't pass judgement on the quality of the music, though I understand it's a somewhat rare disk. But you hang around in thrift stores in Kansas City and you find all kinds of things and you sure can't beat the price. Click on the photo and you'll get front and back jackets, credits and label images.. Jim'

Here's the review I found

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