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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Lawton, John - 1981 Heartbeat
Lawton, John - 1981 Heartbeat

ARTIST: Lawton, John
ALBUM: Heartbeat
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2000, Red Steel Records, RMC CD 9216 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: John Lawton - lead & backing vocals * Adrian Askew - keyboards, vocoder * Curt Cress - drums * Peter Hesslein - guitars, backing vocals * Dieter Horns - bass * Peter Hecht - piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 Lola * 02 Heartbeat * 03 Return To Sender * 04 Christine * 05 Breaking Out * 06 Rainbow Chasing * 07 Stairway * 08 Daddy's In The Money * 09 What A Woman * 10 Darkness Over The Island


When it comes to Uriah Heep I'm more likely to pull out the John Lawton period albums than any of the numerous classics the band recorded before or after. 1977's 'Firefly', 'Innocent Victim' and the underrated 'Fallen Angel' began the Heep's steady climb towards AOR acceptability and still resonate with this reviewer more so than 'Demons And Wizards' or even 'Abominog' probably because the trio were the first of the band's albums I owned as a rock-starved pimply teen. A lifetime ago but as founding member of the magnificent Lucifer's Friend; Lawton's sprawling track record more than speaks for itself and 1981 was a busy year, releasing his first solo album and joining up once again with his old buds in Lucifer's Friend for the hard rocking 'Mean Streak' LP. With the same line-up that recorded 1980's overlooked 'Sneak Me In'; 'Heartbeat' has been called a Lucifer's Friend album in all but name although the truth is the record sounds nothing like Friend's output with Lawton moving head first into turbo-charged pop rock.

The Songs
And a good time it is too. Melodic, harmony heavy and devilishly catchy; 'Heartbeat' should have received more attention than it did as I hear numerous potential singles that RCA simply failed to act on. 'Lola' and thank god not the overplayed Kinks chestnut - opens the record with Rick Springfield overtones and would have sounded great on the radio. Vocally Lawton is in top form as one of the period's better belter's and he even try's a bit of weird yodeling on the title track while skimming the surface of back to basics skinny-tie power pop but just barely while the up-tempo 'Return To Sender' and 'Breaking Out' are top notch AOR, the first harkening back to the Mayday debut and the latter recalling 4 Out Of 5 Doctors second LP. If that's not enough to make you run out a grab a copy check out the flip's 'Rainbow Chasing', 'Stairway' and the insanely catchy 'What A Woman', all choc-full of bouncy melodies and sugary sweet hooks.

In Summary
Reissued on CD with a totally inappropriate romantic new-agey looking cover; 'Heartbeat' is a shining star in John Lawton's extensive catalog - a must have really. Following his brief return to Lucifer's Friend, John went on to form Rebel releasing a fine but hard to find album in 1982 - 'Stargazer' and later appeared in ZAR with former Rebel guitarist Tommy Clauss for one disc-1990's 'Live Your Life Forever'. A few years down the road and Lucifer's Friend reformed once again for 'Sumogrip' which in my opinion bookends quite nicely with 'Heartbeat' as a true blue AOR classic.

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#1 | Traveller in time on January 11 2012 22:17:15
Very good one, yeah.
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