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Lightyears - 1984 Lightyears

ARTIST: Lightyears
ALBUM: Lightyears
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2008, Retrospect Records, RR-386
SPONSOR: Retrospect Records


LINEUP: Dana Cairns - vocals, keyboards * Lonnie Mueller - guitars * Robert Hornack - keyboards * Dennis Coile - bass * Paul Buchignani - drums

Additional Musicians: Joe Shikany - background vocals * Eric Burgeson - guitars, keyboards * Lee Perkins - bass * Alan Edwards - bass * Ken Hoidal - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fools Gold * 02 One And Only * 03 Northwind * 04 Seven Tomorrow * 05 1994 * 06 When You Love * 07 Spaceship Ride * 08 Lightyears * 09 Rerun * 10 Breakaway

If you can imagine listening to the debut Prophet mixed with a dash of late 70's/early 80's Heart, then Lightyears, a band from the eternal wet of the Pacific Northwest is the closest to fit the bill. It's a pomp based style that this five-piece fronted by Dana Cairns deliver mostly, and on occasion they dip into a folkier style too, its no wonder that early Heart comparison was easy to pick. The band had been in operation for some time prior to their one-off recording in 1984, and had differing line-ups to the one listed above. Joe Shikany, previously with Seattle outfit Bighorn was the co-producer (along with Vic Coupez), so yet we find another 'pomp' linkage to Lightyears.

The Songs
The staccato entrance to 'Fools Gold' is an exciting start, Dana Cairns leading from the front, and giving this song power and direction. There are a heap of keyboards going on with this band, and the highlight without doubt is the amazing 'One And Only', with its Prophet like musicianship and Cairns powerful vocals kicking in once again. 'Northwind' has a very pompous sound with fantasy styled lyrics to boot, 'Seven Tomorrow' could fit nicely on Heart's 'Little Queen' album, Cairns using Ann Wilson as a reference point, '1994' might have been ten years into the future when this song was written, but it sounds as if the band were pessimistic about future events, perhaps the Reagan era was influential? The band lighten up for the flowing/dreamy ballad 'When You Love', but take us on a hard rockin' excursion for the album's latter moments. 'Spaceship Ride' could be Groundstar all over again, the titletrack 'Lightyears' has elements of pomp and space prog, whereas 'Rerun' combines the aforementioned Groundstar with GDAZE favourites 1994:, with the closer 'Breakaway' perhaps veering close to the early 80's material of Grace Slick and Jefferson Starship.

In Summary
I'm not really sure how popular or well known this lot were back in the day, as the geographical region they were part of was swamped by metal bands such as Queensryche, TKO, Culprit and the like. It's highly likely that Lightyears may still have remained undiscovered if not for the bloodhound abilities of Aaron over at Retrospect Records, who put this band back in the limelight in 2008 when the label reissued the album on CD. This is good, competent pomp based rock without setting the world on fire, but worthy of a reissue nonetheless.

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