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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Topaz (USA) - 1977 Topaz
Topaz (USA) - 1977 Topaz

ALBUM: Topaz
SERIAL: PC 34934
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Jasper Hutchinson - lead & background vocals * Rob Stoner - bass, background vocals * Billy Cross - guitar, background vocals

Additional Musicians: Mick Ronson - piano, guitar * Howie Wyeth, Rick Marotta, Aynsley Dunbar, Rich Schlosser - drums * Luther Rix - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Weak Sister * 02 Take It When You Need It * 03 A Modern Love Song * 04 The Dream Hasn't Changed * 05 Hard Luck Gambler * 06 Reading Your Eyes * 07 Sharpest Kid In Town * 08 Slice Of Night * 09 Some American Obsession * 10 Too Many People * 11 Texas

Years ago I came across an advertisement for this record in an old yellowed copy of New York's 'Village Voice' newspaper I found in a thrift store. Emblazoned under the playful band photo was the words 'progressive rock' which I got a big chuckle out of since what I remembered of Topaz was well beyond what I would have considered progressive rock then, or now for that matter. Apparently bassist Rob Stoner was the driving force behind Topaz having come off Bob Dylan's 'Rolling Thunder Review' tour with the feeling he could do better. Not sure where he found vocalist Jasper Hutchinson but guitarist Billy Cross spent some time in '50s throwbacks Sha-Na-Na and with some fairly big names making guest appearances including Mick Ronson (David Bowie) and Journey's Aynsley Dunbar; Topaz on paper should have gone places - right?

The Songs
Well, no. The music biz is a fickle bitch and despite major label backing Topaz sold next to nothing for CBS and listening to the record should leave no doubt why it bombed. Painfully typical hard rock filtering both late in the game glam and more often than not third rate Southern sounds; Topaz just never gets off the ground. Baby, Kid Dynamite and Spiders From Mars are ballpark reference points I'll shoot from and 'The Dream Hasn't Changed' is poppy enough to hit the bulls-eye although I'd be amiss not to point out Hutchinson's falsetto is kind of scary and throughout the album his vocal prowess is questionable. 'Hard Luck Gambler' is a good dirty hard rocker but on side two Topaz get a little tricky with the CSN influenced gobblygook of 'Reading Your Eyes' seguing into what I think is the albums best track 'Sharpest Kid In Town' featuring some mean-ass slide and Aynsley Dunbar's masterful drum fills. It's too bad it doesn't last as the rest of the album is barely worth a mention although the smoky Southern blues of 'Texas' just barely rates a second listen.

In Summary
Topaz played out live with Anton Fig on drums but split sometime in early 1978 with Billy Cross and Rob Stoner joining up with Dylan for further tours while Jasper Hutchinson was never heard from again.

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#1 | reyno-roxx on December 05 2011 09:03:12
Keith Lentin was in the final touring line-up of Topaz along with Anton Fig before they put what would become Spider together.
Billy Cross also recorded with ex Tuff Darts man Robert Gordon.
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