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Walsh, Steve - 1980 Schemer Dreamer



ARTIST: Walsh, Steve
ALBUM: Schemer Dreamer
LABEL: Kirshner
SERIAL: 84056
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2004, Wounded Bird (USA), WOU-6320 * 2010, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY077
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Steve Walsh - vocals, vibes, keyboards, drums (track 3)

Tim Gehrt - drums * Phil Ehart - drums (track 7) * Steve Morse - guitars (track 7) * Kerry Livgren - guitars (track 4) * Rich Williams - guitar (track 1) David Bryson - guitars (track 2) * Jeff Lux - guitars, flutes, vibes * Allen Sloan - violins, viola (track 6) * Duane Buckler - bass (tracks 4 and 5) * Merle McLain - bass (track 1, 2, 3 and 7) * Turner Gaugh - bass (track 6) * Cecil Welch - trumpets (track 7) * Skip Lane - saxophones (track 7) * Vic Hancock - handclaps

TRACK LISTING: 01 Schemer Dreamer, That's All Right * 02 Get Too Far * 03 So Many Nights * 04 You Think You Got It Made * 05 Every Step Of The Way * 06 Just How It Feels * 07 Wait Until Tomorrow


Background
The duo of Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh were the perfect foil for each in the productive 70's era of Kansas. Livgren provided much of the melodic and commercial angles, whereas Walsh provided the heavy progressive element. This would come to bear during 1980 when Kansas were struggling to be relevant in a changing musical environment. Shorter songs were the in-thing, longer drawn out affairs - so much the tradition with many of the 70's prog dinosaurs were on the way out. Not helping the situation was the divisive barriers coming between Kansas' band members. Livgren was first out of the blocks with his debut solo album in early 1980 entitled 'Seeds Of Change'. Walsh too wanted to release a solo album, the record label Kirshner were less enthusiastic but reluctantly gave their blessing when a break in the Kansas schedule appeared. 'Schemer Dreamer' was recorded mostly in Georgia, and features many of the musicians who would join him in later band line-ups such as Streets and the revamped version of Kansas from 1986 onward.


The Songs
'Schemer Dreamer' is a transitional album. An opportunity for Walsh to offload some of his compositions that weren't a good fit for Kansas. It still veers very much to the side of Kansas, and certainly doesn't contain any elements that would show up three years with his (then) new band Streets. There are seven tracks here, and they feature varying lineups of musos on each. Opener 'Schemer Dreamer' is the tale of a rat-bag kid, and is rattled out on a honky tonk piano theme. Interestingly, the song segues into a version of Elvis' 'That's All Right'. A 1980's mash-up, perhaps Rock Sugar stole the idea from Walsh? 'Get Too Far' is a straight forward rocker featuring future Counting Crows guitarist Dave Bryson. 'So Many Nights' is quite a lush piece with balladic references and extensive use of wind instruments. Things get rocking and rolling with the boisterous 'You Think You Got It Made', which features Kerry Livgren, as can be expected, this one has a definite Kansas feel. 'Every Step Of The Way' is the pinnacle moment on the album, at 8 and a half minutes, this one tells a story, autobiographical in nature. Returning to a quieter heartfelt scene, 'Just How It Feels' is to this album what 'Nobodys Home' is to 'Point Of Know Return'. Nice tune. The album eventually finishes in a flurry, 'Wait Until Tomorrow', featuring Phil Ehart and Steve Morse, plus an abundance of brass instruments to give this track another different angle.


In Summary
Walsh utilised the production team of Brad Aaron and Davy Moire. Both chaps were also involved with Kansas's 'Audio Visions' record, and it would be after the release of that album that Walsh would depart Kansas. 'Schemer Dreamer' never really took off as a genuine LP release, and was overshadowed by 'Audio Visions' at the time. Wounded Bird reissued the album in 2004, as did Rock Candy who reissued an enhanced version in 2010. If you're a collector of Kansas then I don't need to say anymore. Check out some of Steve's other solo material while you're at it!


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