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Articles Home » 1986 Articles » Agent - 1986 Agent
Agent - 1986 Agent

ALBUM: Agent
LABEL: Virgin Canada
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1996, Escape Music, ESM 009


LINEUP: Rick Livingstone - vocals * Bob Smart - guitars * Andre Kunkel - bass * Craig Zurba - keyboards * Dave Allan - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heartbeat * 02 Can't Hold Back * 03 This Could Be The Night * 04 She Trusted Me * 05 On The Radio * 06 Can't Stop * 07 Change Of Heart * 08 Surrender * 09 Blame It On Love * 10 Headlines

Agent weren't so much as a band initially, more a collaboration between Andre Kunkel and Craig Zurba. Both prolific songwriters, their efforts resulted in the pair winning a Canadian music contest which caught them the attention of Virgin Canada. In fact, Agent had the distinct honour of being the labels first signing, a feat which would later come back to haunt them. Prior to that, Zurba, Kunkel and Smart were involved in the 1982 album 'Letting Go' by Canadian chanteuse Nancy Nash. Bringing their music together under a proper band structure, Agent was born, though many members passed through its ranks during the mid eighties. By the time their 1986 debut was released, the lineup had stabilised to that listed above. Musically, Agent bring to mind many of its Canadian contemporaries, such as Glass Tiger, Loverboy, Streetheart and Honeymoon Suite. But the real big comparison to these ears is the one-off AOR classic Preview.

The Songs
The Agent album, whether by accident or design, takes on a Jekyll and Hyde personality between Side One and Two. The first contains mainly softer songs, while the second lets the brakes off in a big way. For proof, take a listen to the absolute stand out track 'Surrender'. The stabbing synths, and overall urgency of this song is prime time Preview. Continuing in this vein is the punch drunk 'Headlines', a harder edged track compared to many of the others. Equally fuelled to last the distance is the appropriately named 'Can't Stop', while 'Change Of Heart' is a smooth and rich slice of AOR, with melodies aplenty dripping off the side. Elsewhere, the kick-off track 'Heartbeat' is mostly OK, but for those annoying brass parps, followed by the mid-tempo balladry of 'Can't Hold Back' and 'She Trusted Me'. Definitely their better moments are when they rock out with a vengeance.. I reckon!

In Summary
During 1986, the President of Virgin Canada apparently left at the same time Agent were trying to make an impression. Without any leadership, the label drifted aimlessly, its artists floundering in its wake - Agent included. As a result, the album sank without trace, and despite coming together for a second bite at the cherry with producer Jim Vallance, Virgin had done a runner, as had three of the band members in frustration. After all this palava, Kunkel and Zurba then hooked up with multi-talented musician Troy Reid a few years later. He sings on the re-released version of this album (Escape Music, 1997). Zurba produced the remix, and it also features a different album cover (we've shown the original Virgin Canada cover as per above). Agent now as a trio followed this up with a second album called 'Evidence', again, another good set of mid-tempo high-tech AOR. But as history will show, they will be best remembered for that one classic track 'Surrender'.

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#1 | george_the_jack on July 20 2009 23:11:22
Oh...This is damn good! Thumbs Up
#2 | rostoned on November 18 2009 23:39:35
rick livingstone is a top vocalist! good, solid pop rock album except for some dreadful keyboard patterns (hear the chorus of 'Heartbeat', OMG), too bad never reissued on cd.
#3 | super80boy on July 13 2014 19:08:30
This debut has lots of melodious arrangements with high tech and straight up AOR moves. On Side One 'Heartbeat', 'This Could Be The Night' and 'On The Radio' all have good doses of energy and passionate vocals. Side Two does bring it up a notch, and it's right out of the gate with the urgent chorus of 'Can't Stop'. 'Surrender' has a Foreigner influence about it and it's just great. A close runner up to the standout 'Surrender' would be the closer 'Headlines'.
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