Saturday, April 26, 2014
New England - New England
This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the self-titled debut album from the New York City based rock band New England. New England spent seventeen weeks on the US Billboard Album chart during 1979, peaking at number 50. The group featured John Fannon on vocals and guitar, Jimmy Waldo on keyboards, Gary Shea on bass and Hirish Gardner on drums. Paul Stanley of KISS helped produce the album.
Side one opens with "Hello, Hello, Hello"; as the second single it stalled at number 69 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song has a light, jangle pop element to it that reminds me a little bit of Cheap Trick or Electric Light Orchestra.
The sound shifts to a more rocking gear with the next track. The first single "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya" went to number 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I vaguely remember this one from my Top 40 radio listening habit back in 1979.
"P.U.N.K. (Puny Undernourished Kid)" is next. I like the quick-rhythm to this one; it reminds me a bit of Sweet. But, honestly, I never would have thought to define "punk" in that way. I suspect that the band was taking a shot at the punk rock movement of the time.
"Shall I Run Away" slows things down to pose a question.
The first side concludes with "Alone Tonight".
Side two begins with "Nothing To Fear", a song about two lovers ready to move to the next phase of their relationship. It has a big, sweeping arrangement to it.
"Shoot" actually woke me up a bit. I like the energy to this one; it is welcome at this point in my listen.
"Turn Out the Light" starts out simply with just voice and piano but builds quickly which each instrument adding to the layers. It actually repeats that again with the second verse too.
"The Last Show" brings on the bigger rock-spectacle to the record. I was kind of surprised that it came so late but it was appreciated. The second side is clearly the stronger of the two halves, for me.
"Encore" is worthy of its title. This is like when you go to a concert and some of the best tracks are saved for when the band returns to the stage for a few last numbers.
For me, New England is an average rock debut. It is not a bad record; the songs are well-composed and well-performed. As I mentioned, New England's sound reminds me of other acts and that sort of dilutes any uniqueness to their offering. Maybe I would have felt differently had I heard it back in 1979, when I did not have an additional thirty-five years of music listening under my belt.