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England Dan & John Ford Coley - 1979 Dr Heckle And Mr Jive

ARTIST: England Dan and John Ford Coley
ALBUM: Dr Heckle And Mr Jive
LABEL: Big Tree
SERIAL: BT 76015
YEAR: 1979


LINEUP: 'England' Dan Seals - vocals, guitar * John Ford Coley - vocals, piano, guitar

Plus assorted musicians

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hollywood Heckle & Jive * 02 What Can I Do With This Broken Heart * 03 Another Golden Oldie Night For Wendy * 04 Broken Hearted Me * 05 Children Of The Half Light * 06 Rolling Fever * 07 Love Is The Answer * 08 Only A Matter Of Time * 09 Caught Up In The Middle * 10 Running After You * 11 What's Forever For

One of the greatest soft rock duo's of the 70's with a truckload of hits, but remembered mostly for 1976's 'I'd Really Love To See You Tonight', which summed up the idyllic, melodic harmonies of this fantastic pairing, Seals the brother of Jim Seals, of Seals And Croft fame. The first album had appeared as far back as 1971 and rather prolifically the duo released five albums between 1976 and 1979, although this would prove to be their last. Dan and Coley changed tack slightly for this ingeniously titled album (which Men At Work used a few years later), adopting a heavier AOR sound which meant utilising the likes of Lukather, Porcaro, Ritenour, Boddicker, Philliganes, Sklar, Richie Zito.. an all star lineup perfect for what was meant to be achieved. Did they succeed? Mostly, although there's a few duffers on board and it's no secret older fans of the duo were dismayed by the straying from the laid back approach of years past, e.g. 'Nights Are Forever Without You', 'Soldier In The Rain'.

The Songs
A good example of the attempt to toughen up is 'Another Golden Oldie Night for Wendy', high on superb guitar work from Lukather and flowing harmonies from the duo themselves. Precise AOR and Lukather's upbeat solo which fades out the track is identical to the one he would use on The Tubes 'Talk to 'Ya Later' in 1981. Another superb AOR cut is 'Hollywood Heckle and Jive', where the band turn into Toto and I don't think many would complain about that. Some of the melody lines here are incredible and crying out to be heard by anyone who was unaware of this tracks existence. The top ten hit from the album was a cover of the Todd Rundgren penned 'Love is the Answer', originally written for Utopia, which in Dan and Coley's hands was reshaped into a tremendous ballad, more in keeping with their earlier work. 'What Can I Do With This Broken Heart' was a hit also, but tainted by some horrendous disco strings which seem token and misjudged, ruining an otherwise fine song. 'Children of the Half Light' is a quality semi- pomp exercise adding thrusting organ work and an epic chorus which Styx might have been proud of. I'd go as far to say this is indispensable due to the overall melodic content, the guitar work is amazing and sadly faded out too early. There's a clunker or two, namely 'Rolling Fever', a bizarre attempt at Southern Rock, which actually is fun in its own way and some of the ballads are drawn out and lacking killer hooks, 'Broken Hearted Me' and 'Only A Matter Of Time' both examples. The albums uneven direction is best represented by 'Running After You', combining another Southern Rock guise, backed by huge synthesizers and horns. It even sounds like Danny Joe Brown on vocals!

In Summary
This was a good step in the right direction for the future, which sadly never materialised. Who knows what the 80's might have held for Dan and Coley based on the burgeoning level of AOR hinted at here. They typified the 70's and the glorious soft rock era which is still much missed. Sadly they had run their course and split, apparently confused stylistically due to the public perception their form of melodic rock was outmoded. You know what I think of that.. Happily their extensive back catalogue will always exist for those wanting to delve deeper into the bands history and for the AOR connoisseur 'Dr Heckle and Mr Jive' is an ideal starting place.

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#1 | englandashes on September 29 2008 20:59:42
One of favourite tunes is Love Is The Answer and I always preferred this version, great album.
#2 | jeffduran on September 29 2008 22:14:39
Let's not overlook England Dan's first three solo efforts too. This is ED and JFC best though IMHO.
#3 | JuniorNB on November 17 2008 14:12:47
I've been getting into some ED and JFC, as well as solo Dan Seals, lately. This one has some great songs on it, with first calss session musicians.

'What Can I Do With This Broken Heart' is excellent. I also like 'Running After You' and the ballads 'Broken Hearted Me' and 'What's Forever For'. Of course, 'Love Is The Answer' is classic.
#4 | Eric on July 31 2010 00:26:19
Those early singles 'I'd Really Love To See You Tonight' and 'Nights Are Forever Without You' I always associate with late Summer nights, teenage love and happy very innocent times. Evergreen stuff no one remembers how to write anymore.


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