Saturday, July 20, 2013

"All The Hits! All The Songs! And More!"

Baby Come Back. The Things We Do For Love. Escape (The Piña Colada Song). If you grew up during the 70s & 80s, you couldn’t escape these songs, especially if your parents had an AM station blasting out of the car radio, the portable radio/cassette player in the backyard, or your house’s hi-fi stereo system. “Soft Rock” was everywhere, even in an era when hard rock, soul, punk, disco and country ruled the airwaves. You could even buy collections of “Today’s Top Hits” via mail order from a company called K-Tel. Remember those commercials? Critics often maligned the soft rock genre, but the songs were catchy pop tunes with memorable hooks, arrangements and lyrics. They could get stuck in your head for days.  Come on, who hasn’t hummed or sung along to a tune like “Believe It or Not” aka Theme From The Greatest American Hero? I know you did; don’t deny it. :)

Now executive producer Andrew Curry has gathered a host of indie pop artists to pay homage to these classic hits on Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rock. It’s an amazing album. This was a very personal project for Curry, who secured a portion of the financing through Kickstarter, the online funding platform. The disc kicks off with a rocking version of Cliff Richard’s 1979 “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” by Michael Carpenter. In fact, many of the arrangements here turn the dial up to power pop, including Vegas With Randolph’s take on Little River Band’s “Cool Change,” Linus of Hollywood’s run through of Leo Sayer’s “More Than I Can Say” and Bleu’s awesome version of Player’s “Baby Come Back.”

Then there are the surprises: Lannie Flowers re-works the Orleans hit ”Dance With Me” into a very different, rollicking direction. The Davenports cover “Just When I Needed You Most,” and I really liked their propulsive version of Randy Van Warmers’ ballad. Kelly Jones does a pretty, country-flavored take on England Dan & John Ford Coley’s “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” and Lisa Mychols’ emotional reading of David Soul’s “Don’t Give Up On Us” adds a new level of poignancy to the song. Eytan Mirsky adds some real rock edge to “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” originally by Rupert Holmes, and Willie Wisely brings a gypsy-esque flavor to Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “So Into You.”

The album has so many great tracks that you’ll be spinning it again and again. Mike Viola (from The Candy Butchers, LEO, and lead vocalist on The Wonders’ That Thing You Do) does a fantastic version of Robbie Dupree’s “Steal Away” and An American Underdog jam on Jay Ferguson’s “Thunder Island,” which is a digital bonus track. David Myhr (one of my favorite power pop artists) gets it right on 10cc’s “The Things We Do For Love,” and Popdudes groove on Walter Egan’s “Magnet & Steel.” And like the commercials used to say, “There’s so much more!” It’s clear that the artists have a passion for these songs, and it comes through in the music. These tunes really are going to get stuck in your head all over again.

As a listener whose musical tastes run from Abba to Led Zeppelin through soul, country, jazz and punk into the blues and back again, I found this collection irresistible. I’m not ashamed to admit I sang along with many of these songs when they came on the radio back in the day, and you shouldn’t be either. This is truly one of the best tribute discs that have been released in this (or any other) year. It will be on “heavy rotation” in my car, on my stereo, and my iPhone throughout the summer, and for a long time to come! Here are links to Michael Carpenter’s version of  We Don’t Talk Anymore ;, and David Myhr’s cover of The Things We Do For Love ;, as well as two cool “K-Tel” style ads for the album, the second a bit longer with comments from some of the artists involved in the project: and can find the album at the iTunes store and other online retailers.

1 comment:

  1. First my disclosure: I'm Andrew Curry's mother, so of course I LOVED this review. I feel exactly the same way about DATTI. I play the album in my car and in my living room, and I frequently sing along--silently, so as not to look like a crazy old lady as I drive. Thanks for being so perceptive about the album.