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Exile - 1981 Heart And Soul

ALBUM: Heart And Soul
LABEL: Warner Bros
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1983, MCA, MCA-947


LINEUP: J.P. Pennington - vocals, guitar * Les Taylor - vocals, guitar * Sonny Lemaire - bass * Steve Goetzman - drums * Marlon Hargis - keyboards * Mark Gray - vocals, piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heart & Soul * 02 Take This Heart * 03 Till The Very End * 04 Can't Love You Anymore * 05 One More Night For Love * 06 Baby, It's Me * 07 Werewolf Of Love * 08 Dixie Girl * 09 Someone Like You * 10 What Kind Of Love Is This * 11 Still So In Love With You


Shortly before their transformation into country superstars in 1983, Exile ran the gamut of AOR precision with 1980's 'Don't Leave Me This Way' and 1981's 'Heart And Soul'. After the chart smash 'Kiss You All Over' in 1978, the band found it hard to replicate the success with later albums, even though the quality was superior. This album in particular stands out as a forgotten AOR masterpiece, which really should have propelled the band further and prevented their country tenure. But that's not how things worked out and 10 number one country singles validated their stylistic shift. Even here the country influence was starting to take hold as heard on several songs, but not completely.

The Songs
Like the Michael Stanley Band, Exile shift vocals between three members (J.P. Pennington, Les Taylor and Mark Gray), all of them uniformly excellent and providing some variety. The Nick Chinn and Michael Chapman penned title track was a major hit for Huey Lewis and the News in 1983 and musically isn't too dissimilar here, although far longer at six minutes. Things move immediately into classic AOR territory following this, 'Take This Heart' a Pennington track which simmers with West Coast overtones and some Player like tendencies. The melody lines and guitar solo here are simply sublime. Just as great is 'Till The Very End' and its ballad structure, another choice AOR cut which verges on legendary. It's impossible not to be left open-mouthed at the brilliance of the song, melodic rock at its best, past and present. 'Can't Love You Anymore' pushes the limits of melody just as far and it's hard to recall such a consistent start to any AOR album (even though there's plenty of course). The guys were on a roll. The country influence shows through on 'One More Night For Love' and it's close to Pure Prairie League or Firefall in 1981, which means it's a winner all the way. 'Baby It's Me' is a classic from the opening bars, this one with a hard rock element present and a nice helping of synth touches. The vibrant chorus sweeps all before it in its path, a true great of the genre and a must-hear. The honkytonk of 'Werewolf Of Love' is a curious detour, yet retains melodic elements, keeping it in the AOR framework. 'Dixie Girl' continues this path, hinting once again at the country direction to come, this one pleasant and an upbeat romp. The best of rest has to be 'What Kind Of Love Is This'- another sure fire AOR masterpiece. These guys cultivated a unique sound unlike many of their contemporaries and this is as good as anything from the legends of the period, whether it be Journey, Foreigner, Survivor etc.

In Summary
This is a truly essential album and one I found elusive for years. Even with the country reimaging it's hard to imagine Exile could have taken it much further in the AOR world. Even listening to their country material provides a trove of great tracks in the melodic country mold. This one's fallen under the radar but should be investigated immediately if unaware.

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#1 | gdazegod on May 23 2017 04:25:56
Exile - 1981 Heart And Soul
YouTube Video:

Huey Lewis And The News made this song a lot more popular a few years later.
#2 | gdazegod on May 23 2017 04:28:00
Exile - 1981 Take This Heart
YouTube Video:
#3 | gdazegod on May 23 2017 04:29:16
Exile - 1981 Can't Love You Anymore
YouTube Video:
#4 | RobLynott on May 23 2017 09:48:05
Nice review!

Why this one and many other Exile albums were never released on cd remains a mystery...

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