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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Champion - 1988 Halfway To Heaven
Champion - 1988 Halfway To Heaven

ARTIST: Champion
ALBUM: Halfway To Heaven
LABEL: Quicksilver
SERIAL: QS-90005
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2008, Retrospect Records, RR 364


LINEUP: Kevin Alexander - vocals, lead guitar * John Norman - vocals, guitars * David Mauk - vocals, keyboards * Tim Kenworthy - bass * Jerry Quade - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Halfway To Heaven * 02 On My Way * 03 Someone Like You * 04 Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind * 05 Wait Til Tomorrow * 06 Just Another Day * 07 One Plus One * 08 Nobody * 09 Who's Running The World

Here's another purist AOR LP that should've been reviewed ages ago. Ohio's Champion - not to be confused with the Canadian outfit of the same name, only hung around long enough to issue the one LP for Quicksilver Records, but they created quite a buzz for themselves in the local Cleveland scene during the late 70's and into the mid-late 80's. This band actually started out from high-school, and included at some point along the way: lead vocalists Steve Koleszar and George Yunis. This band did it the long hard way; essentially becoming a working band from day one, and bypassing the traditional trappings of most teenagers who drift into the college and university system. As teenagers themselves, Champion built up a solid local following, but also travelled throughout the Midwest and the South playing the clubs and bars of the day. Eventually the band moulded down to a five-piece; which ultimately resulted in this sole LP 'Halfway To Heaven', produced by the band's guitarist John Norman plus former Outlaws and The Godz alumni Freddie Salem. The album is pristine AOR as the pure white snow, and though appreciated by AOR fans the world over (it would be a few years before the world eventually got to know Champion, but by then, the band had broken up), the album did not do that well outside of their regional playing base, but that was to be expected being signed to a small Californian based record label in Quicksilver.

The Songs
The lead-off title track 'Halfway To Heaven' is the epitome of their material, beautifully constructed and well played. Champion even created a video for this track back in the day. 'On My Way' is an upbeat pop based track with a hint of Canadians Photograph and the doot-doot vocal harmonies are obviously uplifted from GD faves Starcastle. 'Someone Like You' tries to act tough and streetwise, but gets nowhere close with their squeaky clean music.. lol! A nice tune not too dissimilar to fellow Clevelanders Beau Coup. 'Nothing's Gonna Change' is a gorgeous mid-tempo affair with some heightened vocal harmonies that is as easy to sell to AORsters as candy is to kids! 'Wait Til Tomorrow' gallops along with parping synths and a poppy style. A close example might be that 1983 LP from the obscure AOR band Boyfriend. There's some heavy bass plucking on 'Just Another Day', a tune that features a bit of orchestration, the vocals aligning to The Outfield like qualities. Different, but good. 'One Plus One' is a pop based track with a very commercial edge. It could've been an ideal track for radio such is its appeal. 'Nobody' hovers in -between ballad and mid-tempo rocker, complete with big sounding drums and loads of vocal melodies. Champion finish with the lyrical intrigue of 'Who's Running The World', I don't think the answer hasn't really changed a lot in 25 years, as the Cabal are still hidden in plain sight but their days are numbered. This track has Bystander like qualities.

In Summary
Apparently at some point beyond this LP, Champion tried experimenting with further original music under the names Modzilla and Waterworks, but obviously with very little information on the Net related to these two projects, one can assume they were unsuccessful. In the where are they now stakes, Kevin Alexander was last playing with Cleveland band The Rockin' Ravers alongside former singer Steve Koleszar; principle songwriter and keyboardist David Mauk has since moved to Las Vegas where he has a piano gig. This is how Retrospect Records Sam McCaslin stumbled upon him and how 'Halfway To Heaven' ended up being reissued on his label during 2008. This album is an excellent example of AOR with a softened edge. Grab a copy while you can.

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#1 | gdazegod on December 30 2012 13:02:49
YouTube Video:
#2 | swazi on January 01 2013 17:38:04
Kudos to Retrospect for reissuing this one! A great release!
#3 | kim_hp on January 01 2013 22:44:43
Great review of a great album. I agree George, this should have been on here long ago! lol.
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