What do the following artists have in common: Chicago, George Benson, Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Manhattan Transfer, The Tubes, and Al Jarreau? Yes, they were all popular in the late '70s and early '80s, but those groups' radio hits at that time were produced by two men: guitarist Jay Graydon and keyboardist David Foster. Together, Graydon and Foster, along with other hot session players in Los Angeles, created a sound know as "West Coast AOR." Graydon and Foster decided to make an album of their own, created Airplay, and released this album. Here's Graydon explaining what went down:
He calls the album "way over-produced," which it may be for the time, but it set the pop music production standard for the next 2 decades. Most of the session playing on this album was done by ace vocalist Tommy Funderburk, trumpets by Jerry Hey, and contributions from another "West Coast" group, Toto, including Jeff Pocaro, Steve Pocaro, David Hungate, and Steve Lukather. The result is one of the best pop albums that nobody's ever heard of. Why did the album tank? Here's more from Graydon:
Airplay received little record company promotion in the states and David and I did nothing to promote. Simply bad business and the album totally stiffed!!! This was not the record company's fault in full. We could have worked the record doing a tour, etc. but David and I were too busy writing and producing acts that sold big numbers. We blew it!!! Ironically, the album became an underground pop success in Japan and many other countries. It still sells well in some territories.The album is available on iTunes, but CD copies can be found for $30 or more. I was fortunate and found a much better deal on eBay. I had to buy this music because from everything I read online, this album was the epicenter of the West Coast sound.
The Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Tracks: To a middle aged man constantly trying to recapture his youth (I'm talking about myself, of course), this is great stuff. It's all good - I don't skip anything. My favorites include Cryin' All Night, She Waits For Me, and Nothin' You Can Do About It (which also appeared on the 1979 album Extensions by The Manhattan Transfer with Graydon producing. The version here is better). Also included is a version of Graydon and Foster's hit song, After The Love Is Gone, which was made famous by Earth, Wind, & Fire. I prefer the EWF take.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I had never heard of this album, but after listening to Mecca For Moderns for this blog, I did some Internet searches for Jay Graydon and found this gem.