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Northbound - 1983 Northbound



ARTIST: Northbound
ALBUM: Northbound
LABEL: Myrhh
SERIAL: 7016648060
YEAR: 1983

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Bill Book - vocals, guitar * Ron Gollner - vocals, keyboards * Bill Hawkins - guitar * Tim Camp - bass * Dave Workman - drums * Dale Walker - piano * Dave Danieli - organ * Steve Allen - saxophone * Bill Bottrell - linn drum machine

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dancing In The Aisles * 02 Maybe Tonight * 03 Livin' In The Light * 04 What Do You Do * 05 Evening Song * 06 Life Without Your Love * 07 You Got Me Singin' * 08 When I Look In Your Eyes * 09 Easy Street


Background
It's no secret the early 80's was the pinnacle of the Contemporary Christian Music scene, with classic releases delivered by the truckload in those years. A band who should have been a major contender were Oregon's Northbound, whose lone self-titled gem from 1983 could have been a breakthrough album, but instead floundered due to record industry politics. The album covers all the familiar AOR avenues frequently heard at the time, with the Christian emphasis not as readily obvious as many other bands. The album was produced by Bill Bottrell, who would go on to be a much sought after producer in the years to come, this marking his first effort behind the studio knobs.


The Songs
Research conducted on the band indicates several of the musicians were ministers in the Oregon area, but as indicated earlier there's really no overt references to Jesus or the cause, making this feel more like a straight AOR affair. 'Dancing In The Aisles' is certainly an energetic opener, with definite Doobie Brothers overtones, something pointed out elsewhere on the internet and totally on the mark. Book and Gollner share lead vocals, resulting in great interplay between the two and the backing harmonies are supreme. Sultry sax work and some well-placed synths gives 'Maybe Tonight' a brooding appeal, this one very much in the Nielsen-Pearson camp. Very classy stuff. The West Coast strains of 'Livin' In The Light' provide more drama, this time throwing up references to The Imperials during their AOR years. I'm almost positive Stevie Wonder ripped this track off for his 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' hit mind you.

The drum machine ridden 'What Do You Do' is rather weak, this one sounding like a Bruce Springsteen outtake. 'Evening Song' is aptly titled, swirling synths, sax work and breezy melody lines giving it a late night appeal, almost like latter day England Dan and John Ford Coley. 'Life Without Your Love' reverts back to textbook West Coast, giving Sweet Comfort Band a run for their money. The 50's rock and roll approach of 'You Got Me Singin' seems out of place, recalling similar moments on the Hobin album from 1982. Thankfully 'When I Look In Your Eyes' is powerful synth driven AOR, with a passing nod to Rick Springfield vocally. This would have been an ideal way to end the album, but instead the rather weak ballad 'Easy Street' does, meandering along at a snail's pace, mostly piano based and unremarkable.


In Summary
Apparently a restructuring of Northbound's label led to them being dropped, prematurely ending a promising career. This was a shame as the music here is of the highest caliber, especially for a debut. Gollner is still active in religious music fields and has produced significant number of solo albums over the years. However this is surely his defining statement and a must-hear for anyone who relishes this timeframe for CCM.


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Tags: Northbound 
 
Comments
#1 | gdazegod on October 20 2016 22:59:36
Have this in my collection. Quite decent sounding for 1983. Really like the twin vocals here. A second LP would've been nice..
#2 | super80boy on February 05 2017 16:10:36
These guys didn't get distracted with preachy vocals, which is a huge plus. They deliver ear pleasing stylistic Westcoast AOR coupled with a polished production. 'Maybe Tonight' is so smooth with that seductive synth line and sax work, great song! Both 'When I Look In Your Eyes' and 'Dancin In The Aisles' are album standouts.
 
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