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John, Robert - 1979 Robert John

ARTIST: John, Robert
ALBUM: Robert John
LABEL: EMI America
SERIAL: SW 1-17007
YEAR: 1979


LINEUP: Robert John - lead vocals * Mike Piccirillo - guitars, background vocals * Bill Neale - guitars * Stewart Levin, Mike Thompson - keyboards * Scott Edwards, David Shields, Dennis Bellfield - bass * Ed Greene, Hal Blaine, H. Lee Wolen - drums * Edna Wright, Darlene Love, George Tobin - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 That's What Keeps Us Together * 02 Love Of A Woman * 03 Lonely Eyes * 04 Am I Ever Gonna Hold You Again * 05 Dance The Night Away * 06 Give A Little More * 07 Sad Eyes * 08 Takin' My Love For Granted * 09 Only Time * 10 Stay A Little Longer

Robert John's first single charted in 1958, so he had been around the block a few times when he struck gold with 1972's smash single 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' which was a cover of an early Tokens hit. Having heard both versions, I'm sorry to say I'm still not hip to the song, dislike it intensely and have been known to flip the dial whenever it comes over the radio, but 1979's 'Sad Eyes' to these ears was, and is a far more palatable proposition mainly because at that time (without realizing) I was indoctrinated by the Bee Gees falsetto, style and disco sheen that was imitated by so many artists including Robert John.

The Songs
Indeed the Brothers Gibb trademark falsetto and meteoric rise on the charts was a big (Ok, huge!) influence on this record and 'That's What Keeps Us Together' is as plagiaristic as it gets, but the thing is it's a great song and catchy as heck with all the silkiness and glitz of the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack. 'Love Of A Woman' and 'Lonely Eyes' is more of the same and brilliant pop at that. I'm a big fan of 'Am I Ever Gonna Hold You Again'; as smooth as velvet with nice flute and sax interplay over lush orchestration - very late 70's. 'Dance The Night Away' is where John becomes Leo Sayer's doppelganger and while a nice try, it's the weakest track on side one although it's back to Bee Gees heaven on the flip's 'Give A Little More' followed by the massive single 'Sad Eyes' and what a pop gem this is. Here Robert John actually sounds like Robert John even with the Bee Gees as his guiding light. I still love this tune as much as I did back in the day conjuring up a lot of memories for me - all good. 'Takin' My Love for Granted' finds John working in AOR territory although his falsetto is so high or more likely his vocals have been sped up to the point where he almost sounds female which is very odd and disconcerting to say the least. 'Only Time' once again and if you didn't get enough on the rest of the album, is Gibb inspired to the hilt while the closer 'Stay A Little Longer' is a light rock tune, nothing special but straight Robert John not trying to be someone or something else.

In Summary
Despite its overwhelming lack of originality, I really dig this album and consider it to be forgotten pop classic worthy of re-evaluation. Very much deserving of a proper CD reissue, there are a couple cheap Robert John comps available but none of them do this album justice. John would release a few more records with minor chart successes before disappearing in the early '80s, never to be heard from again.

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#1 | gdazegod on February 09 2009 02:18:26
'Sad Eyes' was a neat little song. 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' was awful. Don't blame you for changing dials Eric! yuk

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