Thursday, September 25, 2014

Miami Sound Machine - Eyes of Innocence

Today (September 25th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Eyes of Innocence, the eighth studio album from the Miami Sound Machine. The record, the band’s first on the Epic/Columbia label and first recorded in English, went to number 20 in the UK.

At the core of the group was singer Gloria Estefan and her percussionist husband Emilio Estefan Jr. Additional drums were performed by Enrique Garcia, with Juan Marcos Avila and Wesley B. Wright on bass and guitar, respectively. Roger Fisher was on keyboards, and Betty Cortez was on synthesizer. The horn section included Luis Perez, Victor Lopez and Leo Villar.

Side one begins with “Dr. Beat”, the album’s first single. It did very well, hitting number 23 in France, number 17 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 15 in New Zealand, number 16 in Ireland, number 11 in Australia and South Africa, number 7 in Germany, number 6 in the UK, number 5 in Switzerland, and number 3 in Belgium and the Netherlands. This celebration of dance is driven by a pounding drum beat and a funky bass groove. The harmonica solo is courtesy of Gustavo Lezcano.

“Prisoner of Love”, the second single, stalled at number 98 in the UK. Once more, we have an up-lifting tempo but this time with more of a rock flavor to it.

“Ok” harkens back to the girl groups of the 1960’s with a lighter sound and a doo-wop rhythm.

“Love Me” is a straight-forward love ballad with a bit of a dramatic flair.

The B-side to the third single was “Orange Express”, a bouncy Latin number translated from the band’s previous album from 1983 A Toda Máquina.

Side two opens with the mid-tempo “I Need a Man”, released as a single only in the US. In it, Gloria expresses her physical and emotional needs for companionship. The saxophone solo mirrors her yearning.

The title track “Eyes of Innocence” is next. The singer questions the strength of her lover’s commitment based upon how he looks at her.

Things slow down once more with the ballad “When Someone Comes Into Your Life”. It showcases Gloria’s beautiful voice, and I like when it soars over the full orchestration near the end.

Released as a single in the Philippines, “I Need Your Love” is a translation of their earlier ballad “Regresa a Mi”.

“Do You Want to Dance” ends the record on an upbeat note. The synths are in full force here.

Despite a strong lead single, Eyes of Innocence failed to be a big seller; it only reached the one million sales mark in 2008, twenty-four years after its debut. I really discovered the Miami Sound Machine with their next album, 1985’s Primitive Love. After that one was burning up the charts, I came back to snag this one on cassette as well. I found it to be a good record with a few standout moments, certainly worth my time giving it a spin every now and again.

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