Friday, August 8, 2014

Dennis DeYoung - Desert Moon

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Desert Moon, the debut solo album from former Styx front man Dennis DeYoung. It spent twenty-five weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 29.

DeYoung did lead vocals as well as percussion, piano and keyboards. Tom Dziallo played guitar and bass; Dennis Johnson also provided bass. Tom Radtke was on drums and percussion while Steve Eisen played conga and saxophone.

Side one opens with “Don’t Wait for Heroes”. As the second single, this mid-tempo motivational number stalled on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 83.

“Please” is a duet between DeYoung and Rosemary Butler, an American singer who had provided backup vocals for Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstandt, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon. I like the rhythm of this one, but the vocals could have used just a little bit more heat.

“Boys Will Be Boys” really kicks things into high gear with a synth-based, new wave sounding number about guys on the prowl. The doo-wop backing vocals are an interesting touch, but DeYoung’s opening “rap” is a little weak. Still, it is a fun, infectious track.

“Fire” is a cover of the 1969 hit written and recorded by Jimi Hendrix. DeYoung’s version has a slinky, vamp vibe to it that takes it into a whole new place - a smoke-filled, sleazy lounge. It works for me.

Side two begins with the title track. “Desert Moon” was released as the first single; it peaked at number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 8 in Ireland and number 7 in Canada. This one fell into that slow dance category, perfect for swaying back and forth in a darkened club. It really allows DeYoung the chance to belt it out in his trademark style.

The third single, released in early 1985, was “Suspicious”. It has a nice swing to it ala some 70’s Steely Dan.

The B-side to both the first and second singles was “Gravity”, a song about the obstacles on the path to life goals. It starts out light and airy but then gets appropriately weightier.

The closing ballad “Dear Darling (I’ll Be There)” was also the B-side to the third single.

While I knew the title track, the rest of Desert Moon was new to me. Overall, as a pop-rock fan, I liked the record well enough to look into picking up a number of them. You can check the album out for yourself over on Spotify or any of your favorite streaming sites.

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