Tuesday, 15 May 2018

"I've Got A Reason/Dance A Little Light/I Still Have Dreams" by RICHIE FURAY and Band (October 2017 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...A Little Light..."

When I worked at London's Reckless Records in both the Islington and Berwick Street Soho stores - Richie Furay albums were strictly a 'no-no' as a buy-in - pure pound fodder that would be reduced month-after-month until in the end - we'd remove them. And unfortunately on the musical strength of this otherwise exemplary-sounding Reissue – it’s all too easy to hear why.

But that doesn't stop the co-founder of Buffalo Springfield and Poco from having his mid-Seventies Country Rock/Yacht Rock admirers. And fans are going to love this superb-sounding Beat Goes On Reissue of his first three Solo LPs Remastered onto 2CDs – finally making available albums with some high profile guest artists that have long been off the digital radar. Here are the reasonable details...

UK released 6 October 2017 (1 January 2018 in the USA) - "I've Got A Reason/Dance A Little Light/I Still Have Dreams" by RICHIE FURAY on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1310 (Barcode 5017261213105) offers 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs housed in a card slipcase and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (37:38 minutes):
1. Look At The Sun [Side 1]
2. We'll See
3. Starlight
4. Gettin' Through
5. I've Got A Reason
6. Mighty Maker [Side 2]
7. You're The One I Love
8. Still Rolling Stones
9. Over And Over Again
Tracks 1 to 9 are his debut solo LP "I've Got A Reason" credited to THE RICHIE FURAY BAND - released August 1976 in the USA on Asylum 7E-1067 and August 1976 in the UK on Asylum K 53043. Produced by BILL SCHNEE and MICHAEL OMARTIAN - it peaked at No. 150 on the US LP charts (didn't chart UK). All songs written by Richie Furay except Tracks 1, 3, 4 and 9 which are co-writes with the band's keyboardist Tom Stipe. Michael Omartian arranged the Strings on Tracks 3 and 6 whilst David Diggs arranged Tracks 1 and 5.

Disc 2 (75:56 minutes):
1. It's Your Love [Side 1]
2. Your Friends
3. Ooh Dreamer
4. Yesterday's Gone
5. Someone Who Cares
6. Dance A Little Light [Side 2]
7. This Magic Moment
8. Bittersweet Love
9. You Better Believe It
10. Stand Your Guard
Tracks 1 to 10 are his second solo album "Dance A Little Light" (credited to RICHIE FURAY) - released January 1978 in the USA on Asylum 6E-115 (no UK release). Produced by JIM MASON - it didn't chart. Guests include David Cassidy, Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles, Chris Hillman of The Byrds, Rusty Young and George Grantham of Poco, Al Perkins of Stephen Stills' Manassas and Victor Feldman

11. Ooh Child [Side 1]
12. Lonely Too Long
13. Island Love
14. Come On
15. I Was A Fool
16. I Still Have Dreams [Side 2]
17. Satisfied
18. Headin' South
19. Oh Mary
20. What's The Matter, Please?
Tracks 11 to 20 are his third solo album "I Still Have Dreams" (credited to RICHIE FURAY) - released September 1979 in the USA on Asylum 6E-231 (no UK release). Produced by VAL GARAY - it didn't chart. Guests include Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Waddy Watchel and Craig Doerge - all of the Jackson Browne Band, Timothy B. Schmit of Poco and The Eagles, Randy Meisner of Poco and The Eagles, Craig Fuller of The Pure Prairie League (and later Little Feat) and John David Souther.

The card slipcase is classy looking and the 24-page booklet features JOHN TOBLER liner notes that touch of Furay's many-dappled musical history - The Au Go Go Singers (with Stephen Stills), then to Buffalo Springfield, then to Poco, then to The Souther-Furay-Hillman Band and finally his first solo effort in 1976 with "I've Got A Reason". It also features all recording credits as well as band photos – thorough if not a little too reliant on his past history. Beat Goes On's resident Audio Engineer wizard ANDREW THOMPSON has Remastered all three albums (1976, 1978 and 1979 all on Asylum Records) with his usual deftness and skill. These records sound amazing on these new CDs - big Production values brought out in a sympathetic transfer. To the music...

I've Got A Reason's opener the 5:08 minutes of "Look At The Sun" is the first of four co-writes with the band's keyboardist Tom Stipe (the other three are "Starlight", "Gettin' Through" and "Over And Over Again") and for me is easily the best track on a patchy debut album. This Side 1 opener is epic Yacht Rock - his vocals strong and passionate as the melody swoops and dives (it comes complete with a fab string arrangement courtesy of David Diggs). Furay plays Guitar and sings Lead Vocals on all, Tom Stipe plays Keyboards, Jay Truax plays Bass and John Mehler the Drums. The three provide great harmony vocals on the boppy "We'll See" and give it some Eagles on the schmaltzy "Starlight" - a song that hopes to be an epic ballad but never really gets there. Speaking of the bird-boys, "Gettin' Through" goes after "Already Gone" or even "Breaker Breaker" by The Outlaws - but again for me - feels cheesy instead of genuinely exciting. The next best track on here is Side 2's "Mighty Maker" - his Christian beliefs already manifesting themselves in a heartfelt song (gorgeous string arrangements from co-Producer Michael Omartian). The cod reggae-rhythms of "You're The One I Love" are awful and best forgotten as are the sub-Eagles slide-guitars of "Still Rolling Stones". It ends with another non-song "Over And Over Again" - a piano plodder that feels like bad Air Supply.

LP No. 2 opens with the chipper "It's Your Love" - a co-write with Lead Guitarist Virgil Beckham that clearly goes after that Robbie Dupree sound but only half gets there. "You Friends" features none other than David Cassidy on Backing Vocals along with his fellow Poco-pal and soon to be an Eagle - Timothy B. Schmit. Jim Messina (of Loggins and Messina) provides the Guitar Solo and Timothy B. Schmit sings more Backing Vocals on "Ooh Dreams" - another schlock song. Unfortunately "Someone Who Cares" and a trite cover of "This Magic Moment" are symptomatic of a record loaded down with cheese - with only the rocking "Dance A Little Light" providing some brief relief. LP No. 3 opens with the strummed "Oooh Child" -as Yacht Rock as it gets but not in a good way (Randy Meisner of the Eagles guests). Waddy Watchel injects a great slide guitar solo into "Come On" - but the rest of the record feels like insipid instead of inspiring.

In 2018 it's not really difficult to hear why Furay's albums (especially those second and third platters) didn't sell - there's no tunes worth getting excited about and the promise of the better bits on the 1976 debut never realised into something better. Still, fans will love the Top Audio and Presentation. Others are advised to get a listen first...

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