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Friday, January 27, 2012

(the) Elevators - Frontline

Name: (the) Elevators
Album: Frontline
Year: 1980
Style: Powerpop, New Wave
Similar Bands: Cars, Hawks, ELO, Dire Straits, Tom Petty, Richard Marx
"One-Word" Review: 80's Personality Disorder
Based Out Of: Pioneer Valley / Boston
Label: Artista
Frontline - Cover & Record
Frontline - Back & Record

  1. Frontline 3:21
  2. Girlfriend's Girlfriend 2:52
  3. Stop The World 3:03
  4. Stickball Kids 3:37
  5. Lie Detector 2:32
  6. Don't Let Me Die 3:29 /
  7. Tropical Fish 3:09
  8. Lies 3:22
  9. Johnny Train Your Mind 2:56
  10. Friends 3:16
  11. On the Wire 3:57
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members/Other Bands:
Tom Myers - Vox, Keys (Bailey Brothers Band)
Earle Mankey - Producer, Engineer (Sparks, The Pop)
William Benjamin - Drums, Vox (Fat)
Jerry Ellis - Bass
Zonder Kennedy - Vox, Guitars (Bailey Brothers Band)
John Clark - Guitars, Vox (Bailey Brothers Band)
Tori Swenson - Engineer
Irwin-Dresner Mgmt - Direction
Ria Lewerke-Shapiro/Grafis - Art Direction
Lanning Stern - Design & Illustration
Gary Regester - Photography

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. From the generic football clip-art cover design and the group photo on the back, it would appear they are trying to position themselves somewhere between jock-rock and Madness. But some of the clothing styles on the back point to new wave, and with this being from 1980, I definitely wanted to take a chance on it. I’m guessing it will be more pedestrian than Madness, but probably more interesting than Reo Speedwagon or Loverboy.

Album Review: “Frontline” starts off with a pulsing guitar alarm beat, and a bass beat that makes me think this will be a disco song, or perhaps The Four Seasons “December ’63 (Oh What a Night).” But then the nasally vocals that are an immediate match for Ric Ocasek singing a bit like David Byrne with a disjointed verse, partially with a spoken cadence. The chorus brings in the synth and a harmonized chorus chanting “Frontline” with ELO falsettos mixed in the background as well.
“Girlfriend's Girlfriend” revs up, and feels like a mix between the Cars and Dire Straits. It is a catchy hook for the chorus, and a nah-nah, sing song keyboard hook. Then there is a bridge after the chorus that features a more anxious, higher pitch vocal that reminds me of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309.” For the instrumental, there is a nice loud pub rock guitar. And the song finishes out with about a minute of repeating the chorus and a fade. This is a great 80’s pop song, featuring lots of examples of typical, dated production.
“Stop the World” begins boldly with a drum and an in your face bass line. The verse moves along like Dire Straits “Money for Nothing.” The chorus, singing “Stop the world, I want to get off” feels like it is just a half baked version of the previous song’s chorus. But the singer mixes in an urgent, nervous and anxious, high energy output along side a confident smooth performance. They mix together as if he’s trying to figure out his emotions.
“Stickball Kids” is more of a folky, middle-American Tom Petty type story-song. It has a darker, sinister bass line that gives it a gritty feel. All in all it has a Graham Parker singer/songwriter quality to it.
“Lie Detector” brings more powerpop and Americana rock to the album than new wave. The verse rushes to the chorus, only to slow down
“Don't Let Me Die” continues the vibe set by “Stop the World” a gritty, dark alley pub rock song. This song has higher pitched, almost like a light-metal sound, like Richard Marx or something. They try to make it more new wavish with their choice of synth keys, but the melody creates such a gloomy, that it cannot break free from the Americana vibe.

“Tropical Fish” has a bit of a Devo feel to it initially, but the rock guitar wipes the nervous, mechanical jitteriness that makes the best Devo songs, and the mood is replaced by a Dire Straits & Cars blend of pop-wave sound again.
“Lies” has a dark Cars “Let the Good Times Roll” sound, mixed with a juvenile Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack feel. The vocals are a little wavering, and there is are a barrage of new wave synth tones in the song, but they follow the slow rhythm of the song, rather than creating fast pace fun hooks.
“Johnny Train Your Mind” is more angular and a cleverly arranged song. There is a lot of pauses and empty space in the verse, which creates the feeling that everything will come crashing down at some point in a positive way. And in the chorus, the instruments align and it becomes solid and catchy. The vocals are very Cars like again here, with a deep throated, nasally tone.
“Friends” has a prog beginning with weird time signatures. This is quickly abandoned for a typical driving new wave beat. There is another odd section where the Cars type vocals are swapped out by a voice that is basically spoken through a megaphone, cutting out the highs and lows, giving a lo-fi but loud section. This is a fun song to follow along with as it never really gives up the driving momentum, and continues to roller coaster along the trip.
“On the Wire” starts with a slowish prodding, methodic drum beat and alarm-sounding keyboard. The bridge into the chorus builds nicely from the verse. The chorus completely breaks out of the minimalism and flirts with Arena Rock production.

Stand Out Track: Girlfriend's Girlfriend


1 comment:

  1. Just found this the other day for $1 in perfect condition. Awesome album - "don't let me die" and "lies" should've been hits...