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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » New England - 1980 Explorer Suite
New England - 1980 Explorer Suite

ARTIST: New England
ALBUM: Explorer Suite
LABEL: Elektra
SERIAL: 6E-307
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1998, GB Music (USA), GB-1000 * 1998, Marquee/Avalon (Japan), MICY-1062 * 2009, Wounded Bird, WOU-307 * 2013, Rock Candy Records, CANDY205


LINEUP: John Fannon - vocals, guitars * Jim Waldo - keyboards * Gary Shea - bass * Hirsh Gardner - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Honey Money * 02 Livin' In The Eighties * 03 Conversation * 04 It's Never Too Late * 05 Explorer Suite * 06 Seal It With A Kiss * 07 Hey You're On The Run * 08 No Place To Go * 09 Searchin' * 10 Hope * 11 You'll Be Born Again


Although they were not all Boston residents, that's where they met and formed the band - New England seems a very appropriate name in the circumstances. They lived up to that name very well, blending British influences such as Queen and ELO with an American AOR approach. Following up their classic debut must have been daunting, but this is a very strong second effort, regarded by some scribes as their finest moment.

The Songs
'Honey Money' gets things off to a melodic start, with good tempo changes and slight pomp overtones. The anthem chorus is especially good. 'Livin' In The Eighties' chugs along pleasantly on a catchy riff, while 'Conversation' sounds like an acoustic ELO. 'It's Never Too Late' picks the pace up in Journey-esque anthem fashion, with drum rolls lifted wholesale from the Kiss nugget 'Strutter'. The title track is a sprawling pomp epic, building in intensity and enjoyable throughout. Special mention must be made of the intro keys - almost like a church organ !! Highlights on side two include 'Hey You're On The Run' and 'Searchin', the former romping along in grand style and featuring a guitar solo straight out of the Brian May songbook. 'Searchin' recalls the ELO influence, delivering on the melodic front and bringing Hirsh Gardner's falsetto backing vocals to the fore.

In Summary
Mike Stone's production manages to be luch and crisp, giving each performance it's chance to be heard and appreciated. Although it couldn't repeat the success of the debut, 'Explorer Suite' got some good exposure via tours with Cheap Trick and Journey. All three studio albums are now available on CD, and come highly recommended.

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#1 | Jez on January 27 2007 12:00:59
2nd release after the Paul Stanley produced debut (Amazing album also).This time produced by Mike Stone.Jimmy Waldo's keyboards are all over this, which is no bad thing (listen to the title track - wow). Other goodies include Honey Money No pLace To Run It's Never Too Late. Exceptional album.
#2 | rostoned on January 25 2008 23:08:04
'Explorer Suite' (the track) for me ranks among the best POMP ROCK tracks/suites EVER, if not THE one....Jimmy Waldo is up there in cult keyboardists' heaven along with Mark Mangold (American Tears, Touch), Gregg Giuffria, Mike Prince (Legs Diamond) and Michael Read (Roadmaster). Nuff said! clap
#3 | Eric on January 26 2008 15:11:50
This is easily my favorite New England album. Lee? where are you?
#4 | rostoned on July 22 2009 22:11:36
This has been released on CD twice in the US (199? GB Music 2009 Wounded Bird) and twice in Japan too (1998 and 2009 on Avalon/Marquee, the latter in the minisleeve format), all legit releases. Strangely never in Europe.

To this ears and eyes the GB Music edition is the best, the japanese minisleeve the coolest. Smile
#5 | trillion1999 on October 13 2011 21:28:44
I would gladly have every single edition there is of New England(1979),Explorer Suite and 1978.Roll on the reissues.Would love to see Rock Candy tackle love
#6 | Explorer on June 08 2012 21:41:57
Hve recently aqcuired the Avalon cardboard sleeve editions of ES and WW,they sound as if they have been tweaked somewhat..the best sounding reissues so far IMO.
#7 | Explorer on October 02 2013 21:10:48
Rock Candy have once again come up trumps with the best sounding version of this album thus far.
#8 | gdazegod on October 02 2013 22:11:58
Yes, I too will be after this one.
#9 | super80boy on January 01 2014 00:01:36
Good call on the ELO reference, I can definitely hear it in a variety of songs. Big keys and choruses all over...good album.
#10 | Explorer on August 26 2016 23:39:07
I`ve been giving this album a run through again recently. How New England never went on to bigger things mystifies me. This record is so full to the brim of instantly memorable songs. The arrangements alone put this album head and shoulders above the competition of the time, taking their inspiration from bands such as Queen, The Beatles, and ELO. New England here have managed to improve on near perfection that was their debut and scotched that dreaded 2nd album syndrome myth. Apart from Queen II (another follow up from a debut incidentally) this is as good as IT gets.
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