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Ten Sharp - 1991 Under The Water-Line



ARTIST: Ten Sharp
ALBUM: Under The Water-Line
LABEL: Epic
SERIAL: EK 52906
YEAR: 1991

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Marcel Kapteijn - lead & background vocals * Neils Hermes - keyboards, programming

Additional Musicians: Tom Barlage - sax * Wil Bouwes - drums * Martin Boers - guitar * Ton Groen - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 You * 02 When The Spirit Slips Away * 03 Rich Man * 04 Ain't My Beating Heart * 05 Lonely Heart * 06 Who Needs Women * 07 Some Sails * 08 Ray * 09 When The Snow Falls * 10 Closing Hour


Background
Formed in 1982 with a penchant for all things Thin Lizzy and originally playing under the name Streets; the course of the band's history was forever changed after an untimely equipment theft. Gone were the dated ARP and Fender Rhodes and eventually replaced with a snazzy Roland and Yamaha DX7; Streets began experimenting with an updated symphonic pop sound. Of course the band name had to go when in 1984, the Dutch division of CBS Records showed interest in the band's demos and discovered an American outfit with connections to Kansas had already run away with the moniker. Ten Sharp was chosen simply because it sounded cool to everyone involved and the group began releasing a cache of singles most of which barely made a dent in the charts, ending Ten Sharp's relationship with CBS and the band in 1987. Spending two years in the wilderness Marcel Kapteijn's solo demos eventually created a buzz at Sony and together with original Ten Sharp members Ton Groen as a lyricist and keyboard wizard Neils Hermes, the trio recorded an EP which eventually evolved into a full length CD released in Europe and the U.S.


The Songs
'Under The Water-Line' isn't a total bombshell, but it's an enjoyably sophisticated hi-tech pop album along the lines of Go West, Back To Back, Bridge 2 Far and Bounce The Ocean. It did very well in Europe with an incredible five singles picked from the set backed by an extensive promotional tour of the continent and yet America didn't want to know with the CD going directly into drill-hole budget bins immediately after release. 'You' is the opener and the biggie here; a gradually building pop masterpiece with sparkling piano, keyboards and impassioned vocals from Kapteijn, there's no question why it was a hit. The waltz-like intro to 'When The Spirit Slips Away' is somewhat deceiving as it turns out to be the disc's catchiest song reminding me a lot of 'Fahrenheit' era Toto with a snappy chorus and unavoidable hook. 'Rich Man' and the delectable China Crisis styled 'Ain't My Beating Heart' are both ace and it has to be said Neils Hermes makes this disc the minor jewel it is. His keyboard flourishes and arrangements often recall a less-bombastic Yanni and in turn, he gives the album's weaker material namely 'Some Sails' and the smoky 'Closing Hour' an artful and atmospheric jump from mundane to positively wonderful.


In Summary
Ten Sharp released several follow-up discs, none of which I've heard but the hit singles kept coming and after an eight year hiatus Kapteijn and Hermes reunited for 2003's 'Stay'. Since then, Kapteijn's been recording as Luckyfella with a handful of CD's under his belt although one never knows if another Ten Sharp reunion is just around the corner.


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