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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Roberts, David - 2008 Better Late Than Never
Roberts, David - 2008 Better Late Than Never

ARTIST: Roberts, David
ALBUM: Better Late Than Never
LABEL: Vivid Sound
YEAR: 2008
CD REISSUE: 2011, Avenue Of Allies, 11-08-0028


LINEUP: David Roberts - vocals

Additional Musicians: Michael Landau, Brent Mason, J.T. Corenflos, Fred Mollin - guitars * Abraham Laboriel Sr., Larry Paxton - bass * Greg Mathieson, Pat Coil - keyboards * Luis Conte - percussion * Fred Mollin - tambourine * Fred Mollin - banjo * Mike Baird, Shannon Forest - drums * Tim Buppert, Lyle Gudmunsen - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Best Thing I Never Had * 02 Better Late Than Never * 03 Someone Else's Song * 04 Before I Go * 05 Stay With Me Tonight * 06 Be Gentle With My Heart * 07 Eighth Wonder * 08 This Is How I Say Goodbye * 09 If I Would've Been There * 10 What I've Been Missing * 11 Eighth Wonder (Demo)


Many of us who are into the West Coast genre of rock/pop music owe a great deal of gratitude to the Japanese. The folk over there are HUGE fans of WC, and when it comes to the efforts and achievements of a certain chap called David Roberts, he could quite rightly be deemed an absolute demi-god over there in the land of the rising sun! I don't need to praise the efforts of Roberts on this website. Regulars here still gush over his 1982 album 'All Dressed Up' - an album held in the highest regard by many, and recorded at a time when Roberts was only 19 or 20.. an achievement indeed for someone so young. The fact that he disappeared off the musical radar for many years remained a mystery to us all. Not that he disappeared completely, as songwriting credits elsewhere indicated he was a man still in action, though to many it seemed he was 'missing in action'! The turn of the century saw Roberts come out of his shell, with reports that he was to work with Tommy Denander, though that opportunity did not present itself. Instead, David turned to his 1982 producer Greg Mathieson to bash out a new collection of songs during 2007. Recorded in Los Angeles, some of those songs now turn up on this collection 'Better Late Than Never'. The other songs were recorded earlier this year (2008) in Nashville, with producer Fred Mollin at the helm.

The Songs
There are some amazing players onboard. Mike Landau, Abe Laboriel and Mike Baird need no introduction. Brent Mason is one of the most in demand guitarists within the Nashville scene, but did you know that he was once Kiwi/Aussie songstress Sharon O'Neill's husband earlier in her career? Thought not.. lol! The two opening tracks 'Best Thing I Never Had' and 'Better Late Than Never' both have the Nashville twang permeating through them. For West Coasters, they might find this variation to a modern country sound a little offputting. 'Someone Else's Song' is a return to that smooth L.A sound, and this track is far more representative of his earlier work. 'Before I Go' is a track familiar to Starship fans, as it appeared on their 1985 album 'Knee Deep In The Hoopla', though their version, which was very synth/hi-tech driven sounds unrecognisable in the hands of Roberts, who adds more organic components to the sound. 'Stay With Me Tonight' has a John Waite vibe to it.. This is understandable, as it was originally written for Waite in the first place. 'Be Gentle With My Heart' is a lovely semi-ballad with some nice modern touches, subtle keys and velvet like flamenco parts. 'Eighth Wonder' features a latin like quality, like a stripped back Rosco Martinez meeting Richard Marx. Not bad.. 'This Is How I Say Goodbye' is a tight compressed arrangement which sounds as if it comes from the Tommy Denander and Radioactive songbook. 'If I Would've Been There' is the gentlest track here. The acoustic guitar wash is beautiful. I'm guessing this is one of the Nashville recorded tracks. The closer 'What I've Been Missing' harks back to the style of the first two tracks.. less of West Coast, more of that Nashville modern country sound.

In Summary
'Better Late Than Never' is a good album, but to be truthful, it is not a patch on 'All Dressed Up' as that album is an out and out classic.. and that's to be expected really. The album is divided into two parts: the Mathieson sessions versus the Mollin sessions. The latter has a definite Nashville/new country twang to it, which for West Coast fans is not a pure fit, and that is why this album suffers from being a bit jekyll and hyde. However, big kudos must go to Robert's Japanese label Vivid Sound, who also released 'All Dressed Up' back in 2006 (which must surely go for megabucks on the open market??). No doubt, Japanese fans will lap this up, while I am certain that Roberts will go largely unrecognised in North America. Such is the injustice. To bolster the support he receives in Japan, Roberts is playing a series of gigs over there during October 2008. Damn wouldn't I love to be in attendance, especially if any of his tunes from 'All Dressed Up' are on the set-list. Oh to be a fly on the wall.

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#1 | jeffduran on October 04 2008 21:59:59
I hope Robert's knows how special his 1982 release is to fans. As for this release, I wasn't really looking forward to it George based on your comments to me offline that it was very different from his 1982 classic. I enjoyed 'Someone Else's Song' and 'If I Would Of Been There' but that's about it. I hate to compare him to Jon Bon Jovi whose first release was so good but feels evolving as an artist means moving 180 degrees away from his original sound.
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