Friday, September 19, 2014

Sam Harris - Sam Harris

Before American Idol, there was the Ed McMahon hosted Star Search. And on its debut season, the singing grand champion winner was Sam Harris. The Oklahoma born singer quickly capitalized on that exposure with his self-titled debut album that was released on the Motown label in the fall of 1984. Today, we will give a listen to Sam Harris to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.

Released on the Motown label, it spent twenty-nine weeks on the US Billboard Album chart and peaked at number 35.

Side one opens with “Out of Control”, an up-tempo synth-driven dance number about passion on overload.

“Sugar Don’t Bite”, the third single, went to number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This dance track got some track in the clubs back at the time; I definitely remember this one from my evenings out during my sophomore year of college. It has a gritty and teasing groove to it that was enticing.

The B-side to the second single was the beautiful, heartfelt ballad “I’ve Heard It All Before”. This track allows the singer the room to go for some outstanding vocal runs.

“Hearts on Fire” was released as the first single. Backed by another solid, high-energy dance beat, this one really gets me moving.

The piano-based ballad “I Will Not Wait For You” rounds out the first half of the record.

Side two starts with the mid-tempo rocker “Pretender”, a song about calling out a deceptive lover.

Time to slow things down once more with the ballad “Don’t Look In My Eyes”, a song about the pain of a break-up.

The cover of the Supremes 1966 hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was chosen as the B-side to the third single. Harris goes with a synth-infused dance version of the Motown classic.

“Inside of Me”, with its reverberating percussion, almost sounds like a Phil Collins song.

The album closes with Harris’ signature song “Over the Rainbow”. He had performed the cover of the 1939 Judy Garland classic on the show, wowing judges and audiences alike. The track appeared as the B-side to the first single and then the A-side to the second single.

I certainly knew Harris from his TV run (we all watched Star Search back in the dorms back in 1983 and 1984) as well as the single. He was a very talented singer and worked with some amazing producers on the record. I really like this debut album overall and will definitely be adding it to my library soon. You can check it out for yourself on Spotify and iTunes.

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