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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Fogelberg, Dan - 1979 Phoenix
Fogelberg, Dan - 1979 Phoenix

ARTIST: Fogelberg, Dan
ALBUM: Phoenix
LABEL: Full Moon
SERIAL: FE 35634
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2008, Full Moon, EK 35634


LINEUP: Dan Fogelberg - vocals, guitars, piano * Norbert Putnam - bass * Andy Newmark - drums * Kenneth A. Buttrey - percussion, drums * Paul Harris - piano, keyboard * Jerry Hey - flugelhorn * Russ Kunkel - conga, drums * Gayle Levant - harp * Marty Lewis - percussion, tambourine * Jody Linscott - conductor, conga * Tom Scott - saxophone, lyricon * Sid Sharp - concert master * Mike Utley - organ, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tullamore Dew * 02 Phoenix * 03 Gypsy Wind * 04 The Last To Know * 05 Face The Fire * 06 Wishing On The Moon * 07 Heart Hotels * 08 Longer * 09 Beggar's Game * 10 Along The Road

Daniel Grayling Fogelberg while having one impressive middle name was one talented musician and songwriter. Here we are in 1979 with the release of 'Phoenix' Dan is solely credited with all the words and music of all 10 tracks. No need for co-writers or fresh input, well not at this stage of his career, I wonder how many albums now are down to one person. While this was released at the back end of the 70's it was not until 2002 that I purchased a pretty battered vinyl copy. Of course I had seen numerous Dan Fogelberg albums at in the bargain box at either record fairs or second-hand shops, thinking.. 'well he looks a bit folky and he's got a beard!' (The story of my reluctance to buy anything with facial hair will continue on my pending Jethro Tull review), anyway there would always be next time to buy it. Finally I parted with my 2 and was pleasantly surprised and I immediately liked what I heard. I found it to be an album full of cracking tunes, touches of AOR, shades of westcoast by one immensely talented musician. 'Phoenix' was the follow up to his 1978 collaboration with Tim Weisberg, on 'Twin Sons Of Different Mothers'.

The Songs
'Tullamore Dew' being a small musical interlude provides a quiet opening but we are soon into the opening tune being the title track 'Phoenix'. This is probably one the simplest tunes on offer, mixing a Southern feel with a bright and breezy vocal display. Peddling similar styles as England Dan and John Ford Coley and maybe even a hint of LeBlanc and Carr, from their 1978 album 'Midnight Light'.

'Gypsy Wind' and 'The Last To Know' do have a slight country tinge to them both. However don't let the word 'country' put you off. What follows is another fine vocal performance, up to anything Venice has done and there are 4 of them! In fact the Lennon boys are quite a good comparison to what's on offer here, wholesome family fun.

However with 'Face The Fire' someone has certainly lit a fire. Strangely in parts it reminds me of the Triumph tune, 'Rock Out, Roll On' from one of my favourite albums, 'Thunder Seven' and 'I'm A Fighter' by Ray Roper and Van Zant. Certainly in the frame of hard rock with Dan increasing the level of power conveyed in his voice. Bearing in the mind the environmental aspects of this tune, it's obviously something has rattled him. A classic AOR track, also similar to Jethro Tull and provides some guitar hysterics towards the end of the song.

If the last tune provides a taste of how good this album is, well side two just get better and better. 'Wishing On The Moon' continues with an upbeat rhythm. While it has less screaming guitars than 'Face The Fire' it stills keeps your attention and very much a full blooded rocker. The ending seems to meander off similar to the final minutes of Toy Matinee's,' Ballard of Jenny Ledge'.

'Heart Hotels' is basically a classic song, the orchestral arrangements on this tune are sublime, it pops up every now and then. Vocals are so smooth, west coast, downright excellent. The lyrics are so delicately worked into the melodies. The essence of a great songwriter.

'Longer' is a beautiful, simple ballad. Rather than using conventional lyrics to express his feelings, Dan portrays his thoughts in a much more romantic way, no crass 50 pence Valentine card here. When Dan sings, his voice is full of emotion. Unbeknown to me at least, this was a major hit single on its release. This and the other songs invoke images of freedom, security, open fields and sunshine, everything appears to have a happier feel to it.

'Beggar's Game' is my favourite on the album. This could easily sit on a Dwayne Ford album, I have always seen similarities on a number of tracks from his 'Needless Freaking' album; definitely a mark of how good this song is. Everything is structured and performed with incredible detail. It is just a perfectly balanced tune, with the orchestration and that haunting guitar riff being the main contributing factors to form a song of epic proportions.

To finish this fine recording with have 'Along The Road' a quiet little ditty, that fits in perfectly with the feeling of this opus. A fitting tribute to the memory of Dan Fogelberg.

In Summary
An album of quality and song writing beauty. Dan achieved great success with this album. While I have picked up a couple more of his albums since, being 'Netherlands' and 'Exiles', which incidentally, being released in 1987 is a much more straightforward AOR album, but both just have not had the same appeal to me. However with Eric's recent musings on the earlier mentioned collaboration with Tim Weisberg, now high on my list I'm sure I will continue to pick up the remainder of the catalogue and find some more treasures as I did with 'Phoenix'. It's never too late.

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#1 | Eric on July 05 2009 12:17:33
I was in my first year of college when this came out and I swear every other room in my dorm building had a copy. Good stuff -a nice and accurate review.
#2 | gdazegod on July 05 2009 13:37:45
Like the recent Jackson Browne, it seems Dan Fogelberg is another I will have to fill up on - in terms of acquiring his back catalogue. Long may it continue..
#3 | Eric on July 05 2009 14:00:09
I know the guys in Starcastle had nothing but good things to say about Fogelberg. They were playing the Illinois clubs around the same period early on and referred to him affectionately as 'Danny'...
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