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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Toronto - 1981 Head On
Toronto - 1981 Head On

ARTIST: Toronto
ALBUM: Head On
LABEL: Solid Gold (Canada), A&M (USA)
SERIAL: SGR-1005, SP 4872
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2003, Solid Gold (Canada), 410012


LINEUP: Holly Woods - lead vocals * Brian Allen - guitars, vocals * Sheron Alton - guitars, vocals * Nick Costello - bass * Scott Kreyer - keyboards * Jimmy Fox - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Head On * 02 Silver Screen * 03 Still Talking Bout Love * 04 Someone Will Play The Blues * 05 It Comes From You * 06 Enough Is Enough * 07 Master Of Disguise * 08 Blackmail * 09 Gone In A Flash

Toronto were a band that could have been easily regarded as serious challengers to Heart's supremacy as title holders in the best female fronted AOR band category. Not least because charismatic chanteuse Holly Woods came across as a sassier, more streetwise version of Ann Wilson. However that said, 'Head On' is probably the least distinguished of the band's four outings (I don't count 'Assault and Flattery' as that wasn't strictly a band effort), and my least favourite Toronto album to boot. The new wave influences and vitality so prevalent on the debut were sadly lacking this time around. Perhaps Toronto were suffering from that familiar malaise suffered by many a band - 'difficult second album syndrome'? .On second thought, we'll file that theory in the section marked 'over-used music journo cliche' instead. A more logical explanation is that they were suffering from road burnout having toured extensively prior to going back into the studio. It's not that 'Head On' is a bad album, as it is all competently played throughout (guitars riff effectively etc), but I remember on first hearing, it failed to muster any real excitement in me. The word 'average' kept springing to mind, and much like oil and water the words 'average' and Toronto don't belong in the same sentence. The band sound jaded - it's as if they've been placed on cruise control and placed in the proverbial slow-lane of the AOR freeway. Without labouring the point 'Head On' lacks the creative spark of the debut. Still don't despair my fellow AOR lovers, at least with Terry Brown (of Rush fame) at the helm you're guaranteed a first rate production. This coupled with the sheer quality of Ms Woods vocals (the woman oozes sheer class from every pore) ensure that 'Head On' is rescued from mediocrity boulevard - but only just. Having mellowed over the years and given the album a recent airing on my turntable, I'm beginning to think perhaps my initial judgment was rather harsh as there are a few diamonds in the rough.

The Songs
Worthy of special mention are 'Silver Screen' and 'Still Talkin' 'bout Love'. The former is built around a stuttering Allen/Alton/Kreyer guitar/keyboard riff and skinsman's Jimmy Fox's solid backbeat. Here Holly Woods recounts the tale of a young girl's yearning for the silver screen. Maybe this is semi-autobiographical - an impending interview with Ms Woods awaits, dare I ask. 'Still Talkin' 'bout Love' sees Brian Allen step up to the mike and trade off with Holly Woods. The song has a great riff, and killer hookline. Last, and by no means least is 'Someone Will Play The Blues' - a smoke filled bluesey bar-room boogie workout. Normally I find this kind of music turgid, and about as welcome as performing (badly) the household chores. In this instance I'll admit (rather grudgingly) that, thanks to the imperious Ms Woods sultry vocals, it becomes an enjoyable romp.

In Summary
Fortunately 'Head On' proved to be a temporary nadir for Toronto and they bounced back the following year with the stunning 'Get It On Credit' - possibly their finest hour.

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This article has been tagged
#1 | Jez on January 27 2007 12:33:19
2nd release, and my favourite of the first 3 albums. Produced by Terry Brown (Max Webster, Rush etc) Hardly a bad song on this one with only 'It comes from you' being the filler. Brilliant remastering job makes this one an essential for fans of top class Canadian A.O.R.
#2 | dangerzone on April 11 2008 04:37:04
Did Ratt rip this album cover off for 'Dancing Undercover'?
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