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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Wilks, Van - 1980 Bombay Tears
Wilks, Van - 1980 Bombay Tears

ARTIST: Wilks, Van
ALBUM: Bombay Tears
LABEL: Phonogram
SERIAL: SRM 1-3818
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2016, Rock Candy Records, CANDY319


LINEUP: Van Wilks - vocals, guitar, keyboards * Doug Hall - keyboards * Reggie Witty - bass, vocals * Phil Ballinger - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Danger In The Dark * 02 1959 * 03 Travellin' * 04 Juvenile Licks * 05 De La Coupole La Mer Pleure * 06 Bombay Tears * 07 Can't Cry Anymore * 08 Sirens In The Night * 09 Eyes Like Lightning * 10 Older Than You Know * 11 Living On Borrowed Time * 12 Boystown (bonus) * 13 Streetlegal (bonus) * 14 Never Say No (bonus) * 15 Smalltown Girl (bonus)


He's better known as a blues guitarist in the Texan style, but his debut album 'Bombay Tears' offered up something different. Born in Galveston but raised in Austin, Wilks was a disciple of the British Invasion during the 60's, but eventually honed his guitar skills around all the hard to ignore Texan styles and influences, particularly with his popular band of the time: Fools. However, Wilks would eventually sign with Mercury Records with the help of ZZ Top manager Bill Ham.

Now before I get started, I will tell you about the medium which I am reviewing. I bought the Rock Candy CD reissue this week, and then created a FLAC copy which I uploaded to my smartphone, which has some amazing audio dynamics enabling me to review the album with clarity. I will say that the fidelity sounds great - though loud, and I can hear quite deeply into the music, but it is clear that the source is vinyl; which is fine, so long as the source is clean and pristine. The style on 'Bombay Tears' is not strictly a Texan sounding affair. It fuses numerous styles, including radio-oriented southern rock made popular by the big-names of the day. So if you're a fan of many of the acts featured here at GDM through the 1978-1980 era, then you're in luck.So with that out of the way, let's get cracking.

The Songs
'Danger In The Dark' is a very cool tune to open Wilk's account. The guitar dabble at the start might invoke thoughts of Eric Johnson, but that's where the comparison ends, and it's very appealing once it gets going.

'1959' with its guitar plucks and southern AOR inclination will have you reaching for your Johnny Van Zant Band collection before too long. The similarity though coincidental is astounding.

'Travelin' is an interesting tune. It has a funk edge, perhaps leading into fusion, offset by a fiery solo mid-section.

Wilks is onto a winning recipe with 'Juvenile Licks'. Again, a southern rock meets AOR collision, while some heartily approved synth work adds the colourful extras.

'De La Coupole La Mer Pleure' is a brief instrumental leading into the album's title track 'Bombay Tears', which features some rough-house guitar work on the intro. The song changes identity throughout; sometimes mild and restrained, then unleashing some stinging passages for the sake of it!

Could we describe 'Can't Cry Anymore' as a power ballad? Probably not, but I like the arrangement which could be Philips MacLeod on any other day.

Van sends his guitar into a feedback loop on 'Sirens In The Night', but apart from that, the song has a mild delivery, with keys used to soften the backdrop.

Things get serious on 'Eyes Like Lightning', a furious boogie workout with toe-tapping piano and good-to-go guitar. This is probably the song where the metronome is set to stun'.

After that rush, things are slowed down considerably for the Kansas like 'Older Than You Know', with its orchestral symphonic backing and focus on acoustic guitar.

The last track on the regular LP was 'Living On Borrowed Time'. A straight-ahead melodic rocker which combines acoustic and electric guitar to good effect.

In Summary
As a bonus on the Rock Candy CD, the independently released 1982 EP 'Boystown' is included, with four additional tracks. Style wise, it's very similar to 'Bombay Tears', however with less of the southern rock influence. Van continues to produce music to this day, there are numerous releases over the years, so check out his website to see what he's been up to. Kudos to Rock Candy Records for releasing what many in the mainstream music media would call a rarity, though for many of the trainspotters here at GDM, this is simply long overdue on CD.

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#1 | super80boy on January 01 1970 01:00:00
Rock Candy came through big time with this reissue. I bought this album in the dollar bins a year ago and was floored at how great it was when I popped it on the turntable
#2 | gdazegod on June 18 2016 04:09:55
Finally got around to this. The reissued CD sounds far superior to the crappy vinyl rip I had previously.
#3 | david on June 18 2016 08:05:41
Didn't I give you my copy of Bombay Tears a few years back.
#4 | gdazegod on June 18 2016 08:15:20
Was it vinyl? I don't have it now.. Sad
#5 | david on June 18 2016 11:57:33
Yep, Vinyl. Did you know Van Wilks was in a SA band called Homer that went onto become Ultra. I have an Ultra CD, twin guitar Texas boogie.
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