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Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz - 1978 Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz

ARTIST: Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz
ALBUM: Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz
SERIAL: JC 35324
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 1993, Sony, SRCS 6357


LINEUP: Craig Fuller - vocals, guitars * Eric Kaz - vocals, piano * Dan Dugmore, Steve Lukather - guitars * Leland Sklar - bass * Russell Kunkel - drums, percussion * Craig Doerge, James Newton Howard - wurlitzer * Don Grolnick - organ * David Campbell - strings arranged & conducted * Charles Veal - violin * Rollice Dale - viola * Dennis Karmazyn - cello * Rosemary Butler, Leah Kunkel, Maxayn Lewis, JD Souther, Doug Haywood, Michael McDonald, Leo Sayer - harmony vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Feel That Way Again * 02 Cry Like A Rainstorm * 03 You Take A Heart * 04 Let The Fire Burn All Night * 05 'Til You Come Back * 06 Annabella * 07 The Ways Of A Woman * 08 Fool For You * 09 Restless Sea * 10 Annabella (Reprise)

Again I came to listen to this album in a very different way, as has been the case with many records in recent weeks. Here I must make acknowledgement of various Westcoast sites I used to lose myself in years gone by. I just remember the cover really, and picked it up in a box near the counter at Reckless Records for as little as a pound, alongside Hall & Oates' 'Voices' and Barclay James Harvest's 'Ring Of Changes'. Agreed, nothing too special but I was quite happy at the time, but maybe due to the other more expensive stuff I brought on that day, the Fuller and Kaz struggled for air and off it went and got filed away. Well being motivated by watching the DVD, 'Last Shop Standing, The Rise, Fall and the Rebirth Of The Independent Record Shop' last Sunday afternoon, it prompted me to play some vinyl and this was one of the candidates for some strange reason. If I had been blessed with a more enquiring mind, all those months ago I should had realised who these guys were, I'd been pretty lazy and had no knowledge. Well our Mr Kaz co-wrote with Michael Bolton, 'That's What Love Is All About' from 1987's 'The Hunger', I mean I collected all the 12 inch and 7 inch versions of Mikey and I didn't put two and two together!(why not? Call yourself an Accountant?). Whereas Craig Fuller was a one-time singer of the Pure Prairie League, although he left long before the two articles that can be found here in the years 1979 and 1980, so I do have some sort of redemption. After he left that particular house on the hill or maybe prairie, he formed American Flyer. Of course, this album was bound to have a limited run on CD, and is worth a fortune. So maybe, like me, sniff out the vinyl. Anyway it has more character and one important fact to consider, this was never meant to be released on any other form than vinyl (or maybe the old 8 track), it was 1978, and we still had 4 years to go before compact discs. Whereas inventions in 1978? Well, the first spreadsheet was created, I at least found that very interesting, like I do with lots of cumbersome spreadsheets, next!

The Songs
'Feel That Way Again' should had really appeared on countless soft rock (don't you just hate that description) compilations, rearing his head every Father's Day, this shows the fine line between out and out brilliance of the stylings of REO Speedwagon with some worrying country attributes, which is probably down to the harmony vocals of Rosemary Butler. It's a pretty safe opening.

We are already at the second track and find ourselves deep in the ballad basin with, 'Cry Like A Rainstorm', more of a light drizzle than a downpour. However it's a pretty good tune, the strings work very well. By the time it ends, you tend to think, hang on were there any verses or just this repeated chorus, which means it's probably a shorter journey to the end of the rainbow or maybe Mordor, than to this tune.

Things are getting a bit worrying, another ballad with 'You Take A Heart', and the first time Eric Kaz takes over the vocal front, but is soon replaced by Craig Fuller on 'Let The Fire Burn All Night'. Agreed he does have that country twang and this is supported by the music, but not all hope is lost, this has a 70's rock feel, as they rely on more rock guitar than steel guitar, probably due to one Steve Lukather appearing.. whatever happened to him?

In places it does have that Christian feel, although lyrically it's not part of that genre. A very good example of things working well is on 'Til You Come Back' which has a more Westcoast spell again with some luscious string arrangement, and stands out as the best track on side one. Sometimes it smacks of David Soul as much as it reminds me of Robbie Patton.

'Annabella' is another good track, very like Fleetwood Mac, the arrangements are so sweet and melodic, and again these guys show such an ability to provide slick song writing with the best of violins and harmony vocals of Crosby Stills and Nash, The Eagles and LeBlanc And Carr. This again is accentuated when Kaz reappears on 'The Ways Of A Woman'. This is a much improved song, yes stuck in the late 70's, songwriters partnerships, one off albums, hard cardboard covers, unfashionable caps and spectacles, you know what you can expect. This gives an impression of what REO Speedwagon would sound like performing with a full orchestra.

Surprisingly, 'Fool For You' has a Rolling Stones stolen riff, plus a groove from The Babys, and is the most jolly of all the tracks, with Michael McDonald on backing vocals, but you wouldn't notice him. Towards the end it does pick up on The Outlaws.

'Restless Sea' another light feeling tune, more country extracts than before, and Leo Sayer appears on backing vocals, and so this gives you a good likeness of what is on offer.

In Summary
This is not, out and out Westcoast, really touching more on the Country way of life, although due to the great song writing and the arrangements it has enough quality for most rock people to find something they will like. It's a quality album, very easy to listen to, oh! I realised was I'm trying to say, it's easy listening! And yes I am sitting on a rocking chair, seriously I'm not kidding. If you see it knocking about cheaply as I did in London of all places, then I would recommend picking it up, it's not going to blow your doors off, but maybe provide enough relaxation to enjoy your cup of tea and toasted teacakes.

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#1 | englandashes on May 03 2015 22:09:52
This has just be reissued on cd, by Real Gone music, the same label behind the Ray Kennedy and John Hall recent reissues.

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