The sum is much less than the whole of its parts. Part Steely Dan, part Basia, part Toto, and all mediocre. In college, I read every issue of Rolling Stone magazine from cover to cover as soon as it hit my mailbox. In one issue, I read that this group's music was produced by Gary Katz, the producer of Steely Dan. I had never heard of the group, but I thought I'd give them a shot and eventually found a cut-out cassette of Shakespeare Stole My Baby. Some of my favorite studio players were there (Larry Carlton, Jimmy Haslip, Jerry Hey, Steve Lukather, even guest appearances from Steely Dan's Donald Fagen) but the songwriting was just too weak to grab me no matter how good the playing and production was. Still, I listened to it every now and then because I thought it was one of those albums you have to listen to a few times before you get it.
In 2006, I picked up this 2002 compilation CD because I found myself singing the chorus of the title track (strange how the mind works). I found a cheap copy and listened to it to see how much I remembered. Not much, it turns out. It tries to be jazz/pop but the grooves are more static than smooth. Listening to it makes me more anxious than relaxed. I had never heard the group's self-titled album, but it was included on this two-fer. I gave it a shot, but meh. I prefer the Shakespeare album over the debut, but that's most likely because I was already familiar with the later album.
Other than the playing credits, there are no liner notes, which is unforgivable for a reissue.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Eye To Eye #99, Shakespeare Stole My Baby did not chart.
Peak on Cash Box album chart: Eye to Eye #121 Shakespeare Stole My Baby did not chart
|Musician, May 1982|
Tracks: On the first album, the song Nice Girls is an ok pop song (it hit #37 on the charts), but just ok, as is Physical Attraction. The rest are harmless, but I've got the urge to skip More Hopeless Knowledge and Progress Ahead.
On Shakespeare Stole My Baby, the best tracks are Falling For A Funny One and T.W.A. Sari. I almost hate to admit that I like the silly nonsense of Jabberwocky. I'll skip Something Good and Mermaid Man.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: The Shakespeare cassette accompanied me and some college fraternity brothers and sorority sisters on an adventurous trip to NW Arkansas for a district fraternity/sorority convention (Spring 1987, I believe). As you can probably guess, memories of that drunken weekend are sketchy at best, but this cassette was there for all of it. I remember a car breaking down and 6 people riding in a two-door Ford Escort with my future wife sitting on my lap to make enough room for everybody. Not surprisingly, car sickness was also involved at some point. That was the same trip in which I was introduced to the music of Blowfly. Note: there are no Blowfly CDs in my collection.