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Articles Home » 1985 Articles » Shadow Page Band - 1985 Hanging By A Thread
Shadow Page Band - 1985 Hanging By A Thread

ARTIST: Shadow Page Band
ALBUM: Hanging By A Thread
LABEL: Jerni
YEAR: 1985


LINEUP: Shadow Page - lead vocals * Chris Delis - guitars * Paul Spagnola - drums * Chas Kovacs - bass

Guests: Richard Podgalsky, Steve Cavaretta, Billy Blum, Bob Hamilton, Julian Hernandez

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hanging By A Thread * 02 Darling Don't Let Go * 03 Thunder And Lightning * 04 Love A Stick Of Dynamite * 05 I Can't Stop * 06 Dancin' * 07 Touch To Feel * 08 I Lost Your Signal * 09 Repair My Heart

One of my favourite quotes from British history is from Edmund Blackadder; 'my life is hanging by a thread', just as he was going to be burned alive by the Witchsmeller Pursuivant and his brother, Prince Harry, strange goings on in this dark period of British history.. What it's not true? Just as you will have trouble finding a mention of that member of the royal family in the family tree, there is little mention of this album, which I regard as a lost classic. It's not that this is my discovery but if would be nice to discover an album that no one has heard of? A lost gem, a holy grail, well I have yet to come across one, because like so many albums of this ilk, I have to acknowledge the boys from AOR Classics as they shined the light on this album, which more knowledgeable collectors probably knew about, but it was news to me. It took a while for me to track down a copy, but I brought this and a number of other goodies from quite a generous chap one summer. The feature in the said fanzine (issue 2) was pretty scant on the background to this group but hopefully I can add something to the history here. Well the 1910 Fruitgum Company seems an unlikely way to start, remember the song 'Simon Says', they went on to have numerous top 100 hits (maybe Eric is aware of later output from this band?) well what I have derived from only a little internet investigation is that it seems that Shadow Page (the person) is in fact Floyd Marcus; actually he uses his real name as the producer of this album. Floyd it seems was the original drummer for 1910 Fruitgum. He left this group and we find him here as a man for all seasons, he is the main songwriter, singer and producer, although why the use of the name, Shadow Page I am unaware, it seems Floyd is still playing and is in fact reachable through the internet if this is your wish to do so. (I'm not on Facebook myself, so I'll leave it up to you, if your soul desires). Just to add some more facts, I have seen pictures of the line-up of the band, which in addition to the above, merely added that a Ray appeared on keyboards and a Rich on drums, no surnames interestingly enough.

The Songs
The title tracks begin proceedings, sugary keyboards stirred up with hard grained castor sugar vocals, which do tend to bite a bit. This is the only time on the album that the vocals are not that smooth, but this is due to the burning passion getting the better of Shadow. Don't be fooled into thinking that this initial Bruce Springsteen and Todd Hobin cross breed is the story of the album, because it isn't. Even so, this is excellent fluid AOR.

Smoother vocals are present on 'Darlin Don't Let Go', signals a touch of power pop from Breathless; more keyboards here stipulate the AOR requirements. The pre-chorus is perfect, not thrown together, but pieced together logically, carefully. The super fine keyboards definitely are pushing his nose to the fore.

If you want some more thoughtful AOR pandering's then set your barometer to 'Thunder And Lightning' encapsulating the key Streets of keyboards platform. Add to a lesser degree the likes of Spys, Shelter and that's just a quick glance at the letter S in my collection. Keyboards are used like hoards of Vikings coming down from the mountains. Look there are no creases, just straight lines of AOR powder, as perfect as a new pencil with those little rubbers on the end.

'Love's A Stick Of Dynamite', and does this long stick go boom! Yes and only with a title like that could you cross reference with this surprisingly Meatloaf inspired tune, as it follows a slow story mode reminiscent of the large bloke with hankies. Also the piano shenanigans seem to come straight off the bat from fellow loafer, Roy Bittan. This has a cruising feeling (not talking the clogged up motorways of old blighty) but the US fantasy we have here in this little island. The ending is once more uplifting and again crucially the keyboards swarm over the closing credits like they were written in treacle.

Next up we have 'I Can't Stop', possible a downside to me at least is that is has a country vibe once ploughed by Billy Satellite, probably the least impressive of what's been before, but those early tracks are like a burning hot AOR barbeque.

Much better is '(We've All Gone) Dancin', first impressions it's Franke And The Knockouts, but in saying that I am being pushed more in a direction of a Fandango mode, more upbeat, little funky. The clincher is when they drop down in to the pre chorus, 'Sandy, where are you'. I am totally amazed at the song structure, very clever; they seem to constantly add new avenues into the compositions. It's like they are following an AOR zig zag path to the melodic rich summit.

More talent is on display when they go for a ballad, the example being 'Touch To Feel', again a slight (never has he been described as that before) Marvin Lee Aday (he's a great bloke) but more Shooting Star without the wall of keyboards and violins but with the same impact and emotion, with spoonful's of Sugarcreek, following that pesky Wrabit. Heck! I might even forgive them by mentioning the ultimate crime in a song being 'Christmas', I also extend that to Dream Theater with the track from their 1994 'Awake' album, being '6.00' where Labrie keeps mentioning '6 o'clock on a Christmas morning'. Credit where credits due, again they don't let it mosey off into the sunset without adding an inquisitive pumping part, not of the standard of REO Speedwagon, but recommended.

My favourite by a country mile is 'I Lost Your Signal'; the writer of this is a true AOR terminator. Listen to the opening keyboard; snatches of 'Airport' by The Motors, or even high class early Bon Jovi, which was always the most pleasing era. This is very special; this is invigorating melodic music, slight new wave, waves of AOR history passes before me, like The Producers and Prototype. This is the stuff that AOR lemmings would gladly jump off a cliff in the search for everlasting melodic infinity. Songs like this stand apart and this is what those hard cardboard covers were made for, yes I am all for protecting the environment, the only saving grace that this didn't sell in large quantities, but as 99% of the general public wouldn't know a good song it doesn't surprise me, if that wasn't the case than this would have been responsible for clearing large parts of the Amazon rain forest.

Finishing off is again the keyboard poppiness of 'Repair My Heart'. The keyboard flakes are special, touching on BE Taylor Group for its fun and games. This is of a time where you find Kevin Bacon flicking his hair and kicking out those legs. I'm drawn to the vocals of Shadow Page as I am with Harlequin's vocalist George Belanger, they managed to present as many AOR colours as Harlequin, we are talking the same crossover travelled by the likes of 'Innocent' and 'Heaven (Dial 999)', from the classic 'Love Crimes'. High praise indeed.

Sometimes they bolster their sounds with new wave, not Blondie, but more Off Broadway, suggesting 'Showdown' from their 1980 'Quick Turns' as a link. The only difference being is that SPB supplement they sound with more keyboards, Yes I am fully aware I'm creating an AOR puzzle here or maybe a AOR coffee morning crossword, but all the pieces and words do fit together. So hopefully I have described in a way, to create a nice teaser for you, check out their songs on YouTube and locate a vinyl copy.

In Summary
Whether it's the slick verses, keyboards, guitars solos, they don't follow the text book simple formats, but what would otherwise seem immensely complicated, they just managed to smooth away the sharp corners. Don't judge an album by its cover, this is as ferocious as the England football forward line, which musically is a plus point for me, but for Mr Roy (Hodgson) not would he expects from a very toothless Rooney and co. The only damage here is when the keyboards start licking you to death, rather than the hound, his teeth must be false, but there is nothing false about this album. Look even the record label has melodic connections, Jerni (sounds like the Russian for Journey), only ever seen a single release from this label and that being from the Northern Soul genre, couldn't think of anything worse! Yes it might seem I've gone for a blanket AOR bombing of musical soundalikes rather than influences, and they are used as a more generalisations rather than saying that this band are mere copies. This group are genuine great songwriters and provided their own take on melodic rock and are well equipped to stand alongside with the other forgotten trailblazers rather than a step behind.

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#1 | gdazegod on April 06 2013 12:51:16
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on April 06 2013 12:52:23
YouTube Video:
#3 | dangerzone on April 06 2013 13:31:59
Great review. I was just about to write it up myself this weekend after hearing it for the first time!
#4 | Eric on April 06 2013 13:40:59
Marcus still tours with the 1910 Fruitgum Company although the 'band' was one of those revolving door scenarios with multiple session players coming and going, like so many Bubblegum outfits of the time.

'Hanging by a Thread' was surprisingly easy to find in America, often seen in cut-out/ budget bins well into the 90's. A likable album, nice to see The Motors 'Airport' reference too!
#5 | super80boy on April 06 2013 18:09:38
Nice to see this reviewed here. I knew it was only a matter of time before it popped up on gdaze. I picked this one up many years ago and it's a great AOR obscurity. Thanks for the well arranged review!
#6 | kim_hp on April 07 2013 11:06:09
I was under the impression that this was from 1981. Could anyone shred a light on the correct year of release? Is it really 1986? Sounds and feels more like '81 to me, but I could be wrong.

Excellent album in any case. Love the cover!
#7 | gdazegod on April 07 2013 11:24:59
It may have been recorded in 1981, but it wasn't released back that far, otherwise we would've known about it - trainspotters that we all are. Some say 1985, because a single was released in that year. Others say 1986.
#8 | gdazegod on April 07 2013 11:29:25
According to their Facebook Page, this was released in 1985.

#9 | kim_hp on April 07 2013 14:01:04
Thanks George.
#10 | swazi on April 08 2013 22:21:37
Great album, whatever year it was released. Actually I had it in my list as 1981 myself. You never stop learning .. Wink
#11 | swazi on April 08 2013 22:24:00
I should have added that this a worthy candidate for getting a CD treatment by Rock Candy.
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