December 27, 2016
707 were one of the underappreciated AOR bands of the early 80s. They should have been right up there with Foreigner and tourmates REO Speedwagon, but it never quite got as big. They did score one moderate hit with "I Could Be Good For You" from their debut album which reached #52 in 1980. After that a couple more excellent melodic-rock albums came out before the band called it quits. Guitarist Kevin Russell went on to have a successful career as a side man, slinger for hire, and special guest playing with everyone from Whitesnake to Clarence Clemons. He's also released a number of blues-based solo albums and today carries on the 707 name and legacy. Kevin's stories come like a runaway train and his appreciation and respect for rock and his fellow musicians is totally endearing. He's one of a kind!
December 20, 2016
This week we pay respects once again to the great music city of Cleveland with a local legend two-fer.
First up is keyboardist and songwriter Mark Avsec. Mark's first big break was when he joined Wild Cherry ("Play That Funky Music") in the mid-70s before then jumping to Jonah's new band Breathless for two excellent albums in the latter part of the decade. From there he forged what would be the defining musical relationship of his life when he and Donnie Iris joined forces for a run that continues to this day. He even wrote Donnie's biggist hit "Aah Leah" which reached #29 in 1980. A legal issue relating to Aah Leah inspired Mark to go to law school. He's now a copyright lawyer in Cleveland and still gigs with Donnie whenever possible.
Jonah started out in one of Cleveland's biggest draws of the early 70s, The Michael Stanley Band. He eventually wanted to try his hand running his own band and performing his own material when he went on to form Breathless and released two great albums. Unfortunately, Breathless never quite broke to a mass audience (despite opening for Kiss). Since the early 80s, Jonah has continued to record solo albums that rock most excellently. Though he may have retired to LA, he released another excellent solo album this year with Nusic.
Enjoy this conversation with a couple guys that have seen a lot and done a lot and have the scars (and killer songs) to prove it.
December 13, 2016
Book of Love were one of the key synth pop bands of the 80s and early 90s. Though they never reached the level of global success that colleagues like Depeche Mode or Erasure did, they had a dozen or so big hits on the dance charts with their patented mixture of charming melodies and simple lyrics. The 90s weren't kind to Book of Love (or any of the bands like them) so Susan pivoted to a career as a food stylist and photographer. In this candid conversation, she's refreshingly honest about the challenges of making a living as an artist and creative person as well as the marginalization of the arts in today's schools. We also talk about the 30th Anniversary tour they're on now and the well-earned victory lap they're enjoying. Re-acquaint yourself with some of the best feel-good music there is.
December 6, 2016
The Au Pairs were one of the great British post-punk bands of the late 70s/early 80s. History has shown they were also one of the most revolutionary. Their aggressive mix of political screeds encased in jagged, in your face songs set them apart with bands like The Slits and Gang of Four from the mainstream. She won't say it herself, but Lesley's image as a lesbian icon set them apart even further. She doesn't fully embrace her role as a pioneer of the time, but while rallying against Thatcher may have been part of the punk uniform of the time, the amount of gay women doing it so openly seriously sets her apart. (Editor's note: she wanted it made clear that she has had relationships with "men, women, and trannies. Variety is the slice of life!"). Today she is an immigration lawyer in London and still occasionally making music. The Au Pairs may have been short-lived (with no chance of reforming, sadly), but it's artists like Lesley that allow progress to happen. I'll say it even if she won't.