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Dakota - 1980 Dakota

ARTIST: Dakota
ALBUM: Dakota
LABEL: Columbia
SERIAL: 36261
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2002, Melody BLVD, 0002 * 2012, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY 122
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records


LINEUP: Bill Kelly - guitar, lead vocals * Jerry Hludzik - guitar, lead vocals * Louie Cossa - keyboards * Jeff Mitchell - keyboards * Bill McHale - bass * John Robinson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 If It Takes All Night * 02 Crazy For Your Love * 03 Possession * 04 You Can't Live Without It * 05 One Step * 06 Lady * 07 Restless * 08 Crazy Love * 09 It Gets Easier


Having released the album 'Somebody Else's Dream' under the moniker Jerry-Kelly in 1978, it was clear that a more suitable name and a stable lineup were needed. The name Dakota was apparently suggested by John Robinson, the session drummer who played on the album in focus here. While the logo we all know and love from the 'Runaway', 'Mr Lucky' and 'Last Standing Man' albums wasn't around yet, the cover is still very appealing - both frontmen acting as roadies hauling Dakota gear into or out of some venue, it's simple but it works. Come to think of it, that goes for the album as well..

The Songs
'If It Takes All Night' launches the Dakota career in a swirl of pomp keys and strong guitar hooks before culminating into the kind of winning anthem chorus they've managed to keep coming up with for the next 23 years. A great contrast between mid-tempo verses and flowing up-tempo harmonised chorus, with an unexpected bridge of Survivor like proportions. This track is credited as being a minor hit, although it's unclear where it, or the album charted on the Billboard 200 chart - the truth is it deserved to be a smash. 'Crazy For Your Love' operates in smoother territory, not unlike certain tracks on the Le Roux album 'Last Safe Place' - mid-tempo grooves and big harmonies, West Coastish at times but always rocking hard enough to be on the AOR side of the fence. 'Possession' ushers in some cheeky synth work, soon joined by some searing Southern AOR guitar a la 38 Special, a comparison that applies throughout this boogie/AOR workout. 'You Can't Live Without It' is the only ballad on offer, and the first of only two genuine concessions to the West Coast camp. Despite that, it's still a handy tune. 'One Step' immediately rectifies the situation with rocking intent, complete with melodic chorus and staccato keys. Nearly forgot to mention, they absolutely nail the bridge as well. 'Lady' is back in Southern AOR territory, not unlike 38 Special's 'Rockin' Into The Night' with keys! 'Restless' had me fooled with the tinkling intro - what a cool rocker it becomes, all cascading vocals over irresistible hooks and a mid-song bridge that would be at home on Journey's Escape (the song).

In Summary
A special word must go out to Melody Boulevard and specifically Scott Sosebee who oversaw this reissue - the sound quality is outstanding, the liner notes from Bill Kelly are great, there are cool pictures including a ticket stub from the Queen/Dakota 1980 tour and a backstage shot of the two bands. Most copies also carry the autograph of one Jerry G Hludzik (thanks Scott!!). If all that wasn't enough, the two bonus tracks alone are worth the price. I'll treasure this disc always. Footnote: 2012 sees the reissue of this great album via Rock Candy Records.

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#1 | rkbluez on November 26 2008 04:01:53
Great album...very underated...I like this album so much better than the hyped up Runaway...I saw these guys on the tour for this album with John Robinson on drums in a club in Worchester Mass called the Red Barn and they were phenomenal...they played this whole album as well as some Jerry Kelly stuff...met Jerry and Bill at the bar after the show and they were also very cool people...the next night they were in Providence backing up Queen at the Civic Center.
#2 | JuniorNB on November 26 2008 13:35:32
I agree, rkblues. Great stuff. I still own the vinyl. Crazy For Your Love is my favorite now, but I bought the album because of "If It Takes All Night".
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