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King Of Hearts (France) - 1978 Close But No Guitar




ARTIST: King Of Hearts (France)
ALBUM: Close But No Guitar
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: SW-11848
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: Reissue List

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Robert Fitoussi ('F.R. David') - vocals * Marc Tobaly - guitars & vocals

Additional Musicians: Leland 'Lee' Sklar, Peppi Castro, Ivan Elias & Stu Woods - bass * Michael Braun, Rick Shlosser - drums * David Brown, Jeff Layton, Elliot Randall - guitars * Steve Porcaro, Dean Kraus, Jai Winding - keyboards * Paul Griffin - organ * Jimmy Maelen - percussion * Stan Farber, Jim Haas, Jon Joyce, Marty Nelson, Lenny Roberts, Tony Wells - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Stay With Me * 02 This Time Is Right * 03 Something To Hide * 04 There's Always Time * 05 Just Because * 06 How Long Does It Take * 07 Ridin' On * 08 Fancy Dancer * 09 Love For Hire

RATING:


Background
Singer Robert Fitoussi - born Eli Robert Fitoussi and better known as F.R. David, and guitarist Mark Tobaly recorded 1975's 'Cafe de Paris' as members of Les Variations. The former a Tunisian-born Jewish French singer who played bass and sang lead on Vangelis' 1973 'Earth', the latter a Moroccan Jewish guitarist relocated to France. Les Variations offered a hard rock and Ethnic fusion that's known as Moroccanroll music. The band split up after their 1975 tour of North America where their album had charted. Fitoussi and Tobaly reunited in 1978 to record the sole King Of Hearts album. Surprisingly, no fusion hints are to be found in 'Close, But No Guitar'.


The Songs
With producer Richard Landis (Desmond Child & Rouge, Nielsen/Pearson, Van Stephenson) and session guitarist Elliott Randall (Steely Dan) on board, this is pure late-70s AOR with nods to Boston and Ambrosia, superb harmony vocals and some Steely Dan-like southern rock guitar playing. 'Stay With Me' is a delicious country-tinged AOR chunk. Piano driven, we are introduced to superb vocal harmonies, string arrangements in the keyboards and an exquisite chorus. The dreamy AOR of the more guitar-driven 'This Time Is Right' includes a brilliant short refrain and an a-cappella ending chorus backed by drums in full 70s-hit fashion. Speaking of which, 'Something To Hide' has 'Hit' written all over featuring a Boston-like acoustic/electric guitar riff, heavenly harmonized verses and country hints in the guitar and piano fills. Slightly prog-rock ballad 'There's Always Time' is the fourth killer vocal highlight in a row. To my ears Kiss' 'Under The Rose' -from 1981's 'The Elder', verses are a close comparison. Chiming parts are beautiful. Very subtle up until the ending southern/country-tinged electric guitar solo, the falsetto vocals around the two-minute mark are breathtaking. Next is 'Just Because', a 70s power ballad years before the golden age of power ballads. Hence no power chords but piano and string-arranged keyboards in one of the most beautiful ballads I've ever heard. The crooning here is top notch. Surprisingly, Ray Charles covered it in 1979's 'Ain't It So' and his version was also part of 1985's 'The Sure Thing' OST and can be heard during the closing credits of the movie. The classic 70s AOR with Westcoast blinks of 'How Long Does It Take' is like a fresh breeze. The last three songs rock harder. 'Ridin' On' is 70s hard rock with loud guitars and a Boston-like chorus, 'Fancy Dancer' is bluesy and 'Love For Hire' is a slightly more piano-driven classic rock 'n' roll.


In Summary
The album did not chart despite its strong material. I wonder if it was a case of bad promotion or no promotion at all from Capitol Records.. Fitoussi resumed his solo career as F.R. David (a stage name under which he had recorded some singles in the late 60s/early 70s) and had a worldwide hit with 1981's 'Words' (the full-album 'Words' would be released a year later). He also did sessions for the Doobie Brothers, Toto and Steely Dan in New York and L.A. Largely unknown even to the melodic rock masses, 'Close, But No Guitar' is a beautiful slice of late 70s AOR blended with Westcoast, Hard Rock and even country/southern/folk rock leanings showcasing outstanding vocal harmonies and some Boston, Ambrosia and Steely Dan traces.


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