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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Bonds, Gary 'U.S' (And The American Men) - 1984 Standing In The Line Of Fire
Bonds, Gary 'U.S' (And The American Men) - 1984 Standing In The Line Of Fire

ARTIST: Bonds, Gary 'U.S' (And The American Men)
ALBUM: Standing In The Line Of Fire
LABEL: Phoenix Records
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2016, HemiTS Releasing, TS-0001 (unofficial CDR)


LINEUP: Gary 'U.S.' Bonds - lead vocals * Dean Bailin, Phil 'Teddy Bear' Grande, Steve Van Zandt - guitar * Gregg Meade, Joe Martin, Lucille Almond - guitar, backing vocals * George Ruiz, Larry Russell - bass, backing vocals * Mike Macara - drums * Rudy Richman - drums, backing vocals * Bob Funk, Ed 'Clams' Manion, Mark Pender, Nelson Bogart - horns * Alan Palanka, Gene Kraus, Nicky Bear - keyboards * Frankie Vinci - keyboards, backing vocals * Joey Stann - saxophone, horns, backing vocals * Avita Belmonte, Donna Bach, Donna Cristy - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Standing In The Line Of Fire * 02 Sneakin' Away * 03 I Wish I Could Dance Like Fred Astaire * 04 Working Man * 05 Wild Nights * 06 Dance * 07 Take A Chance * 08 City Lights * 09 Come On Let's Go * 10 You Are The One

WEBLINKS: www.garyusbonds.com

With a succession of hits in the early 60's, Gary 'U.S.' Bonds had seen his career falter by the early 80's. Bonds, originally born Gary Anderson, took his stage name from a gimmick suggested by a record producer who correctly assumed it would help him get airplay. Bonds scored with classic rock and roll staples like 'New Orleans' and 'Quarter To Three' which cemented his place in rock history. It wasn't until 1980 however until Bonds experienced a resurgence, thanks to Bruce Springsteen, who was an ardent fan of Bonds. He subsequently produced, performed and wrote on Bonds' comeback albums, 1980's 'Dedication' and 1982's 'On The Line'. These produced major hits for Bonds, including 'My Little Girl' which reached number 11. By 1984 Bonds was left to his own devices, although still supported by Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band, who played on and wrote the title track. The album was credited to Bonds and his backing band, the 'American Men', although it's obvious who the key player was, with Bonds' face squarely on the cover.

The Songs
As this was 1984 it naturally falls into melodic rock circles, making this a candidate for this website, if not entirely convincingly. It has an earthy working class tone, so common of the time and not unsurprising with Springsteen's influence. The title track is searing AOR, a near-perfect hook, accentuated by the ever popular female backing vocals so heavily utilized at the time. 'Sneakin Away' is also in the melodic rock vein, but this one is so similar melodically to Paul Dianno's 'The Runner' it surely can't be a coincidence. An odd pairing perhaps, but both came out in the same year, so I wonder what the deal is? The sax is a highlight however, giving it that bar room feel. The lamely titled 'I Wish I Could Dance Like Fred Astaire' rocks harder than the title suggests, but some of those keyboard and guitar lines are utter cornball. 'Working Man' is cornball too, but in a good way, this one a Huey Lewis style workout about a working stiff pissing his life away and getting drunk in the bar. The horns and backing vocals date this immensely, such a common sound at the time. But it's certainly great blue collar rock all the same, something obsolete in this day and age.

'Wild Night' was a single that went nowhere, this one in the Springsteen style, very old fashioned rock, with the emphasis on horns once again and 60's style guitar tones and organ work. 'Dance' is upbeat and sadly doesn't classify as AOR, but still has some nice melody lines, again pure rock and roll. 'Take A Chance' tosses in some contemporary guitar work and blatant synth touches, this one more palatable for melodic rock lovers. I'm not sold on the 'doo wop' elements of the hook however. The calypso keyboard effects of 'City Lights' are fairly horrendous, throwaway pop unfortunately. A cover of Ritchie Valens 'Come On, Let's Go' is given a good workout, but by this time the album has totally lost its way after a strong start. 'You Are The One' is a worthy ballad, with piano work that recalls Springsteen once again or even the Michael Stanley Band.

In Summary
This certainly isn't a pure AOR offering, but at least four of the tracks are worth a listen, especially the title cut, which is almost a classic. Bonds didn't follow up until 1996 with new material and that was his last album to date. He's still heavy on the tour circuit at the age of 77 however, his timeless appeal guaranteeing him an audience until he ever decides to give it up.

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#1 | Eric on September 21 2016 00:00:08
I swear, I don't think I've ever seen a copy of this? Always learn something new here....
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