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SPYS - 1983 Behind Enemy Lines

ALBUM: Behind Enemy Lines
LABEL: EMI America
SERIAL: ST-17098
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1996, Renaissance, RMED-115 (2 on 1 with 'SPYS') * 2012, Rock Candy Records, CANDY160
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records


LINEUP: John Blanco - vocals * John Di Gaudio - guitars * Al Greenwood - keyboards * Ed Gagliardi - bass * Billy Milne - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rescue Me * 02 Midnight Fantasy * 03 Behind Enemy Lines * 04 Sheep Don't Talk Back * 05 Reaction * 06 Heartache * 07 Race Against Time * 08 Younger Days * 09 Can't Stop Us Now

Spys, are one of the best AOR bands to come out of New York (include Balance and Aviator). To me, they are the epitome of glory days AOR, and are a true ambassador of this website. Following on then in the great tradition of Foreigner, were their former keyboardist and bassist Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi. Together with the other members, Spys the band was formed, EMI America the label was decided, and Neil Kernon the producer, was gifted a wonderful opportunity with the debut Spys album. Admittedly a great album in itself and worthy of a review but for me, this their second album 'Behind Enemy Lines' from 1983 is just as superb and deserves a special mention, if not to even up all the attention given to the debut.

The Songs
The opening tracks are as arresting slices of immaculate AOR that you're ever likely to hear. I mean .. 'Rescue Me' and 'Midnight Fantasy' rank right up there. Some quirky songs abound with the title track 'Behind Enemy Lines' resplendent with the Russian style vocal backing and the lyrically hilarious 'Sheep Don't Talk'. Greenwood's vocoders really get a workout here! The excellent 'Reaction' reminds me of primetime Asia circa the debut and 'Alpha' albums. Di Gaudio's guitarwork knocks seriously on Steve Howe's door without asking for an invitation. More hi-tech AOR appears with 'Heartache' whilst 'Race Against Time' continues in the same vein and is also the closest song to the material contained on the debut. 'Younger Days' has that epic feel similar to a more commercial Starcastle while the album closer 'Can't Stop Us Now' means just that, it ripsnorts it way with classic pompy keyboards and medium heavy guitar interplay. A great way to round out a solid album.

In Summary
Though both the debut and this one have long since disappeared off the planet as slices of vinyl, the '2 on 1' CD re-release from Renaissance Records released in 1996 should be a compulsory addition to your collection. Again, another example of how a label can take hold of a band like Spys and do absolutely nothing with it. Funny how that happens to be EMI America .. again! Do they still exist? (ha ha). Also, refer our June 2002 interview with John Blanco, elsewhere on the GLORY-DAZE site.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on January 01 1970 01:00:00
I got this right when it came out in 1983 because I enjoyed the debut so much. I was disappointed that this one sounded quite different, and I didn't listen to it very much. I finally got the 2-for-1 CD with both albums on it back in 2006, and this one has grown on me. There are some really good songs on here. I will say that this, to me, is one that starts out good, starts gradually declining after the first two songs, and ends quite nicely with 'Can't Stop Us Now'. But really, all the songs are pretty good. The only one that doesn't really do much for me is 'Younger Days' - it is fine lyrically but just doesn't move me musically (although it doesn't suck either). It's just hard to live up to that awesome debut, which is about as good as it gets - that was a hard act to follow.
#2 | Jez on June 13 2008 04:55:57
The 2nd release 'Behind Enemy Lines' is also essential, slightly more of a new wavish feel in places, but still superb in all departments. If you see this grab it at all costs, your life is not complete without it.
#3 | richardb on June 13 2008 14:19:00
A unique band, very high tech and an ambitious effort. Does take a bit of getting used to compared to debut.

Richard B
#4 | rostoned on July 14 2008 16:41:49
The title track is so eerie and charming with those Russian vocals. Cold war pomp?
#5 | dangerzone on May 17 2012 12:45:06
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