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Player - 1996 Lost In Reality

ARTIST: Player
ALBUM: Lost In Reality
LABEL: River North Records
SERIAL: 51416 1198-2
YEAR: 1996


LINEUP: Peter Beckett - vocals, guitars * Ron Moss - vocals, bass, 12 string guitar

Guests: Bob Marlette, John Parker, Mark Ross, David Kopatz, Michael Parnell - keyboards * Doug Macaskill, Nick Nolan, Tim Pierce - guitars * Keith Jones, Kevin Clarke - bass * Art Wood - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 This Is Your Life * 02 Without You * 03 Footprints In The Sand * 04 Something Good * 05 After All This Time * 06 Baby Come Back (1996) * 07 Cherry Lane * 08 Stand By You * 09 No More Rain * 10 Sometimes You Gotta Let Go * 11 Beautiful Love * 12 Just To Be With You * 13 Every Time I Turn Around


Fourteen years after the last Player studio album, the timeless 'Spies of Life', Beckett and Moss decided to revive the Player name and try their fortunes once again. In those years Beckett had been part of the Little River Band and recorded an excellent solo album in 1991, as well as supplying hits for countless other artists. Moss of course was plying his trade as a soap star on 'The Bold and the Beautiful' so this reunion was a pleasant surprise at the time. Of course the pair had a massive reputation to live up to, especially when one considers they were part of one of the greatest AOR bands in the genre's history. Those expecting a return to the classic Player sound were probably disappointed with this release, as it is dominated by programmed drums and was decidedly modern and not a throwback to the vintage sound of 1980. There are some tracks that work however, with some sparkling melodies and if you can ignore the drums and the pop vibes then the magic of Beckett's songwriting still shines through.

The Songs
This album was originally known as 'Electric Shadow' and released in 1995 outside of the US, where this type of music was nothing short of extinct. That said, this is hardly an aggressive AOR album, more of a light pop affair made for light rock radio stations. The credits claim there were two drummers on this album, but I find that hard to believe, listening to the regimented drum beats of excellent opener 'This Is Your Life'. Trademark Beckett melodic fare with AOR driven hook which is very reminiscent of Rick Springfield. This is perhaps the AOR highlight and a hint Player may still have been viable. 'Without You' is total pop, and I could have imagined this on a Backstreet Boys album, but the vocal harmonies are superior. The lamentable drum programming dilutes the excellent 'Footprints In The Sand', which features the melodic lines that made Player the stuff AOR dreams are made of. This could have been a hit and would have been even better 15 years earlier. There's an obligatory remake of 'Baby Come Back', made to suit mid 90's sensibilities with flamenco guitar at the forefront. Not exactly riveting. 'Cherry Lane' sounds like a piece of mid 80's high tech AOR with Mr Mister overtones and is agreeable AOR. The inclusion of sax on 'Beautiful Love' conjures up images of a Caribbean beach scene at sunset; extremely light but still melodically acceptable simply because of Beckett's vocals. Also a must hear is 'Just To Be With You' and its stunning chorus, which makes up for some jangly Country tinged guitar work. 'Something Good' is the best of the rest and this sounds like an unused track from 1984, with Hall and Oates written all over it.

In Summary
I shunned this album for years based on the two tracks taken from it on the Player best of from 1998 ('Footprints In The Sand' and 'Beautiful Love'), which understandably paled in comparison. Given the passing of time this isn't the flop I once imagined it to be based on my comments years back, although I maintain the line about the drum machines and keyboard samples taking some of the effect away. If they had played this straight down the line like vintage Player I think it would have stood up with any of the first four albums. Worth a listen for Player fans who may have given it a wide berth. This does nothing to lessen the Player legend whatsoever.

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