Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rare Silk - American Eyes (1985)

When I was a lad, I picked up Rare Silk's 1983 album, New Weave. It was rather Manhattan Transfer-ish, which I dug at the time. The difference being that MT was a vocal quartet with 2 male and 2 female voices while RS was a vocal quartet with 1 male and 3 female voices, so the sound was different in that way. They still relied on jazz transcriptions, vocaleses, and close harmonies. However, I never heard of them again and figured that they were one and done. Turns out they were just one and done as far as major labels go.  I first heard of this album while putting together this list, then found the CD fairly inexpensively a few weeks back (as of this writing, people are asking $54-$310 for this CD on Amazon; I found a copy at Goodwill for less than $20.) This follow-up was issued on a small but well-respected California jazz label, Palo Alto, which for some reason released CDs on a different imprint, TBA Records (bad decisions all around on that one). But enough of all that, what about the music here?

In music that features vocal harmonies, the material and arrangements must be strong and it's hit or miss on this one. Of the 8 tracks, I can recommend about half. On a couple of tracks, the group tries their best imitation of Al Jarreau scat which is best left to Jarreau. Stick to the harmonies.

Billboard, April 6, 1985, p. 66

"Eclectic but accessible" is a nicer way of saying "hit or miss" - I'm gonna need to steal that phrase. Overall, I'm going to use my usual cop-out phrase: it's good, not great. I'd rather hear New Weave again.

I could easily tear into the lack of liner notes and lack of credits therein, but since these CDs were a newfangled thing back in 1985, I'm giving the label a pass 31 years later (even though it's an easy target with a label name like TBA). Thanks to Discogs - hope your info is accurate because this is all I got:

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on the US Billboard Jazz LPs chart: #4

Tracks: The band shines on 'Round Midnight and Stanley Turrentine's Storm. I also like the cover of Steps Ahead's Oops!. I want to dislike the laid back island groove of Hello, but the marimba and steel drums draw me in. The song was written by bassist Kim Stone and features Dave Samuels and Manolo Badrena, all of whom have played with Spyro Gyra so maybe that's why I'm digging it. Skippable tracks include Watch What Happens, an ill-advised Hendrix cover (Up From The Skies), and the eclectic final track.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: see above

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