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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » Frontline (USA) - 2009 Frontology: 1983-1993
 
Frontline (USA) - 2009 Frontology: 1983-1993



ARTIST: Frontline (USA)
ALBUM: Frontology: 1983-1993
LABEL: Retrospect Records
SERIAL: RR 479
YEAR: 2009
SPONSOR: Retrospect Records

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Dan Durkin - vocals * Philip Groves - vocals * John Lawrence - guitars

Honorary Members: Anthony Prael - keyboards, vocals * Ian Hoffman - drums * Alan Kamai - bass * Tony Aloisi - bass

Other Musicians: Sagovia Bader - bass * Keith Crossen - sax * Rich Dransfield - sax * Bill Hendrickson - drums * Richard Shoenherz - piano, keyboards * Dallas Smith - sax, flute * Paul Thorne - keyboards * Peter Welker - trumpet

TRACK LISTING: 01 Nadine * 02 Make A Play * 03 Heaven In High Heels * 04 Don't Look Down * 05 Night In The Life * 06 Heartless * 07 Change Of Season * 08 Fire In Her Eyes * 09 If I Knew Better * 10 The Way Of The World * 11 Where Were You * 12 The Hardest Fight * 13 When I'm Gone * 14 Always Changing * 15 Lost In Love * 15 Lost In Love * 16 Tuesdays Gone * 17 Jessica Anne * 18 Into The Night * 19 Lighthouse * 20 I'm With You Now * 21 Right Back In Your Arms * 22 Do Me One Small Favour * 23 She Comes And Goes (bonus) * 24 Even The Nights Are Long (bonus)

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.myspace.com/frontlinerox


Background
Some of you may have seen this album cropping up on retail site NEH Records just recently. And no, it isn't a greatest hits of the well known German band of the same name. Nope, this version of Frontline predate the German crew by at least a decade, and originate from Novato, which is located to the northwestern part of San Francisco. Better yet, Retrospect Records have released one of their best CD's ever, with 'Frontology' being a 2CD set, covering a wide ten year history of the band. In fact, Aaron from Retrospect told me recently that this was one of his better acquisitions to the label, and with a heap of songs covering their career, there's a lot to digest. The central characters in the Frontline story all the way through include the two principal lead singers Dan Durkin and Philip Groves, plus lead guitarist John Lawrence. There was a whole backline of players that have been involved with the band over the ten year duration, and as you would expect, some stylistic differences occur across the timeframe. If you can imagine a mix of Richard Marx, Chicago, Hall And Oates, Huey Lewis And The News, and if some of you Christian rockers remember a band called Rhythm House, then you'll be that much closer to identifying with one of San Francisco's best kept secrets of the 80's. The music on the CD's aren't in any chronological order, in fact only five of the tracks were ever released publicly, the remaining tracks are being released for the first time on this 2CD set.


The Songs
CD #1
This disc looks at Frontline's discography between the years of 1987 and 1990. Kicking off with 'Nadine', it's a clean and funky tune filled with brass accompaniment that reminds me of that debut Richard Marx album. 'Make A Play' hooks into an urban vibe that smells of the West Coast, sort of like Will Lee's 90's band BFD. Love the big brass lines of 'Heaven In High Heels', complete with funky bass parts, yeah.. Rhythm House and Judson Spence spring to mind. 'Don't Look Down' is a poppy brand of AOR, some smooth keyboard lines here, fashioned with a great chorus and just the right edge of roughened guitarwork. Good track! The style changes to a piano driven mid tempo affair that is 'Night In The Life', this one certainly veers on the west coast side of the boulevard. I liked the immediate appeal of 'Heartless', its AOR mostly, with the occasional sax parts to break it up. The next track 'Change Of Season' sounded like something Al Denson would do, however the results here don't hit the mark for me. Getting back on track is 'Fire In Her Eyes', a hard charging tune, with big synths and even bigger saxes. Moving in a different direction yet again, 'If I Knew Better' reverts to an early 80's style, something in the vein of Glass Moon or Novo Combo even. Catching the anthem wave, 'The Way Of The World' provides the singalong moment on this first CD, however it's the fast paced AOR of 'Where Were You' that appeals to me more. The first edition of 'Frontology' ends with the ballad 'The Hardest Fight', with dual vocals prominent, though the arrangement isn't an out and out killer, it has some moments that stand out.

CD #2
The second disc looks at the 1983-1986 era, with a couple of bonus tracks bolted on, including one from 1993. I find Frontline's discography from this era slightly more my cup of tea, as the songs have a definite Californian session feel to them, and as we know, many of the greatest West Coast/AOR albums were produced in California during the 1980-1986 timeframe. So if you have a liking for David Roberts, Pages etc, then this disc should find favour with you. Certainly the first two tracks 'When I'm Gone' and 'Always Changing' are a reminder of Robert's classic 'All Dressed Up' album. Big call yes, but worth putting my head in the noose! 'Lost In Love' may not be as famous as the Air Supply tune of the same name, but this version has a lot in common, including soaring vocals plus the use of acoustic/electric elements. 'Tuesdays Gone' is a funky tune, but the guitar tone of John Lawrence sounds pretty rough, while the original quality of the track is not the best. I'm guessing this is one of the tracks Frontline dragged from deep out of the basement archives! 'Jessica Anne' chugs away in party anthem mode with ample use of sax once again. Just for something different, the band go all quirky on us for 'Into The Night', and to ensure that they confuse us with their offensive running pattern, Frontline deliver a beautiful ambient acoustic ballad 'Lighthouse'. Check this out under a set of headphones. 'I'm With You Now' is another to be compared to the aforementioned David Roberts, the flute work adds a unique dimension, as does the slightly country rock feel. 'Right Back In Your Arms' has that schmaltzy early 80's vibe, trippy and happy on one side of the fence, but also slightly cheesy on the other. I much preferred the happy-go-lucky flavour of 'Do Me One Small Favour', Lawrence's guitar tone evoking some reminders of Larry Carlton. The two bonus tracks include a 1983 effort by the duo of singer Philip Groves and keyboardist Paul Thorne entitled 'She Comes And Goes', which is essentially vocals over the top of a Rhodes. The last track is a 1993 affair called 'Even The Nights Are Long' featuring Groves and Durkin. It's another piano featured track, but the dual vocal work is killer!


In Summary
The CD booklet is laid out fantastically, with lots of information and pictures of the band too. The details relating to each song is in-depth, the whole package is a real AOR trainspotters delight, and I believe it stands out as one of Retrospect's flagship releases. You can pick this up at NEH or directly from the Retrospect site, if you wish to take this investigation a little bit further!


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Comments
#1 | Recordjnky on July 31 2010 12:34:10
Good news for Frontline fans -- Frontline will be doing some reunion shows in the very near future around the Bay Area including opening for Asia and also Foreigner at the Uptown Theater in Napa. I am so excited for these guys after a 14 year hiatus, Frontline are back!
 
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