I do have soft spot for Albert Hammond.
I'm not sure how that sits with the other stuff I like but every music collection should have a couple of acts that stand out stylistically from the rest.
I have more than a couple and Albert Hammond is one of those.
Check out my other blog entries for biographical detail and what not on Hammond.
Hammond is a strange cat in music. He has been phenomenally successful and has some critical credibility despite putting out some very MOR records and writing all sorts of mush songs for people like Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Starship.
When I commented on his 1977 album, "When I Need You" on htis blog I said: "This album is straight MOR (middle of the road) and a lot of the cringe worthy elements of male MOR are here. Dramatic lyrics, words laden with meaning, overwrought arrangements and a distinct lack of humour. But, there is something worthwhile going on here…… sincerity and sensitivity. Hammond is like a more sensitive Tom Jones who seduces his listener rather than beats them into submission. The other point of comparison and probably a better one would be 70s era Neil Diamond though without Neil's occasional lapses into pretension".
And this album from 1981 has travelled further down that path.
Hammond's strengths are his smarts in song writing. His viewpoint is clear and he is sensitive enough to see and then write about both sides of the love coin (perhaps that's why so many female vocalists have used his material).
Hammond has no problems in co-writing tunes with all sorts of song writers or musicians. A lot of musicians over the years have written with him and I suspect he has the knack in coaxing people to work with him and, then, bringing out their best.
Here he writes with:
- Tom Snow, an American, who was a member of the band "Country" in the early 70s but is generally a songwriter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Snow;
- Harold Payne is a songwriter who has also released music with his band "Gravity";
Eric Kaz, an American singer songwriter who has written much
MORfor many people https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Kaz;
- Steve Kipner, an American born Australian who was in "Steve and the Board" in Australia and "Tin Tin" in England amongst other bands and who went on to write "Physical" for Olivia Newton-John in 1981 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Kipner
- Wendy Waldman, a American singer songwriter (who had a reasonable career) and who started off in the late 60s with Bryndle http://www.wendywaldman.com/
One of Hammond's underappreciated strengths (mainly because people always talk about his song writing) is his voice. It is forceful without being aggressively male (at least not on the pop stuff) and it is clear and expressive.
You can call this MOR music or AOR or straight soft rock. But, if more of those genres were like this they may not have gotten the bad names they did (well, the bad names around this household).
The music world may have been imploding in 1981 but Hammond wasn't about to let his well crafted pop fall by the roadside.
My friends may scratch their heads, or more likely their butts, but I could definitely see myself putting this music on at a dinner party or BBQ. It is nice on the ears, quirky enough to be interesting (in parts), and catchy enough to be sing-a-long-able.
And late at night when the party dies down you could definitely dim the lights and do some lighter waving to the music.
Recorded in Los Angeles the album is played on by a whose who of AOR west coast musicians. Jim Ed Norman, another hit making west-coast conductor and producer ( and member of early 70s outfit " Uncle Jim's Music ") produced this.
Tracks (best in italics)
Your World And My World – (Albert Hammond ) – excellent
From my window I watch you go
He's waiting for you in the street below
His arms wide open while mine are cold and so empty
'Cause your world and my world they're drifted apart
in yours the sun is shining
in mine it's raining
knocking on the lonely one
- Memories – (Albert Hammond, Tom Snow) – One step removed from a disco pop ballad …all strings and quite mawkish, but catchy
- When I'm Gone – (Albert Hammond, Harold Payne) – A little bit of the Elton John here, though with guitar replacing piano.
- Anyone With Eyes – (Albert Hammond, Tom Snow) – with it's emotional and vocal highs and lows this is a song in the classic Hammond mould.
- World Of Love – (Albert Hammond, Tom Snow) – a beautiful little song. Quite haunting thought it would have been even better in a lower key.
- I Want You Back Here With Me – (Albert Hammond, Eric Kaz) – pure soft rock pop …it makes the Partridge family sound like the Stooges.
- Experience – (Albert Hammond, Steve Kipner) – Hmmm …70s era gently screeching electric guitars punctuation the emotions. Not for me.
- Take Me Sailing – (Albert Hammond, Wendy Waldman) – a getting away from it al song.
- By The Night – (Albert Hammond, Tom Snow) – a touch of The Hollies go 70s funky. That can never be a bad thing. There might be a little 10CC in there also.
- I'm A Camera – (Albert Hammond, Steve Kipner) – Songs with references to cameras always seem to be, naturally enough, voyeuristic, and this is no exception. It's novel enough to be interesting.
Middle of the Road, Adult Oriented Soft Rock…. this is patchy but Hammond nails a few songs. For the sake of completeness … I'm keeping it.
Nothing no where (well, not in the English speaking world)
When I'm Gone
By The Night
- Backing Vocals – Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (of The Turtles) as well as Jennifer Warnes, Nicolette Larson, Wendy Waldman and others.