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Wolff, David - 1979 Aura

ARTIST: Wolff, David
LABEL: Buddah Records
YEAR: 1979


LINEUP: David Wolff - lead & backing vocals, synthesizer * Joe Melotti - acoustic piano, keyboards, background vocals * Scott Zito - acoustic & electric guitars * Paul Spinner - bass * Artie Dixson - drums * Ed Walsh - synthesizers

Additional Musicians: Jary Mall - percussion * Charlie Dechant - sax * Stretch Bruyn- synthesizer * James Christian, Jeff Cannata, Cookie Watkins, Dave Webster - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Come On Over * 02 High As A Kite * 03 Red Rider * 04 Star Love * 05 Rock 'N Roll Fever * 06 Hot Shot Baby * 07 Some Kinda Hurricane * 08 Avrinay * 09 Anthem From Bylos * 10 What Is Happening (Inside Your Head)

With cover art that sent all the wrong messages; David Wolff looked damn silly in his tragically out-of-date 'Rick Wakeman goes disco' stage gear while silhouetting a pasted logo that screamed late 70s graphic design. Flip the sleeve over and Wolff's toothy grin was more down to earth but just who was this caped crusader I hear you ask? He was a man with connections that's for sure, not only landing a big record deal for himself, but setting the ever-colourful Cyndi Lauper on the path to superstardom as both her manager and boy toy as well as taking full honors for Jeff Cannata's Arcangel singular signing to Portrait. A look at the credits and guitarist Scott Zito, Cannata as well as James Christian all formerly of Connecticut prog rockers Jasper Wrath make varying marks on the music and with no less than three keyboard players including Wolff; 'Aura' is about as far removed from a dance album as you can get.

The Songs
On the other hand it's not the easiest album to grapple with. Co-produced by Wolff and Ed Sprigg who was notable for his engineering work for Black Sheep, Pavlov's Dog and Hall & Oates; the record lumbers between AOR, pop and progressive styles which is usually the kind of stuff I live and breathe and yet it's all a bit too wacky and over the top even for my rarified tastes. The Queen influenced rocker 'Come On Over' is as good as the record gets although a few dozen grooves later Wolff's falsetto squealing becomes intensely annoying, especially on 'High As A Kite' and I'm on the hunt for the nearest drug store with a serious migraine. 'Red Rider' sounds like it was pulled from Trillion's debut although not nearly as good while the lofty balladry of 'Star Love' is a welcome respite from the previous ten emotion-charged minutes. With a couple Aspirin down the hatch side two doesn't have a whole lot going for it although 'Avrinay' stands alone as the type of music Wolff should have focused on, very much in the vein of Alexis and other mid-70s purveyors of all things pomp.

In Summary
Certainly not compulsory listening, 'Aura' was always easy to find in cut-out bins and even easier these days perusing vinyl vendors on the net with promo copies shockingly a dime a dozen. Managing Cyndi Lauper was probably a career ending move since my guess is Wolff raked in enough money to live comfortably for life but it would have been interesting to see what direction a second album might have taken.

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