New England than…..
New England now….
If you have been a reader here at Arena Rock for a bit you may recall that at the turn of the decade (1979 rolling into 1980) my listening habits were Kiss,Cheap Trick,Queen and AC/DC. One band that flew under the radar back than (and should have been included with those 4 other bands mentioned)and still flies under the radar today is the self titled album from those chaps from New England called well….New England!
The band consisted of John Fannon(guitar,lead vocalist and songwriter) Jimmy Waldo(keyboards) Hirsh Gardner(drums) and Gary Shea(bass). I must also mention that Hirsh Gardner was born in Toronto so we have a token Canuck in New England! Bam!
I discovered these guys through an add in Circus Magazine and Wowzers Paul Stanley produced it??? (along with Mike Stone)Surely it must be rock right?! Yep it was and well they were managed as well by Kiss’ management (Aucoin) so me being a young lad I took the plunge and I think just like New England’s career itself these guys flew under the radar for whatever reason as myself and I think Muc were the only 2 guys that were onboard with the debut. Lots of people missed out on this Gem of a debut but it’s never too late here at Arena Rock!
My great fantastic parents got me this record as it was on my Christmas Wish Rock List 1979 and as always Mom and Dad delivered and it’s a well crafted piece of good hard rock from yesteryear! I have no idea were my vinyl copy of it went but I did buy this off of ITunes as they had it for $6.00! So after a few spins of it this album it deserves some props!
PROPS it’s gonna be……
HELLO,HELLO,HELLO- ok I will tell Ya straight up these guys oozed on Waldo’s keyboards but the one thing is it enhanced their sound not weasel it out to the suits of record labels like Journey did time and time again! (Show of hands,can anyone tell me a Journey song where the guitar is mixed higher than Jon Cains keys in the Steve Perry era?) Anyhoo Fannon has a good knack for writing the song and Hello Hello Hello is a good opener and shows me that these guys can play their instruments! I would call this album Big Atmospheric Rock and sets the plate for….
DONT EVER WANNA LOSE YA- what a great opening riff! This song is a great well written piece of Hard Rock! I’m sure Stanley (not that he would admit it) drooled over the opening riff by Fannon! Ha! good on Ya John! This was there single and a good one it was,and watch the video posted and you’ll know what I’m talking about! That opening riff is classic rock !
P.U.N.K- stands for Puny Undernourished Kid! A 4 on the floor rocker that kicks some real good ass! Boom,lotsa guitar,lotsa keys,lotsa bass and Hirsh pounds the Drums!
SHALL I RUN AWAY-big time shall we say ballad! I’m ok with these guys doing it as it was their debut and they were more about the Rockers so fair enough they gotta attract the ladies after show to the bus so go fellas go! Special note must be given to Fannons guitaring at the beginning of this track! Some real chill slide playing almost like if you were on a desert island with a drink in hand soaking up the rays. That kinda chill….
ALONE TONIGHT-boom this is a fast paced rocker and all these years later I can hear some of Boston’s sound in this band and why not they came from the same neck of the woods so now don’t get edgy here when I say the comparison word! Not in the songs though just the production end of it! Why on earth did not Stanley make Kiss records sound like this? Kiss’ album Unmasked could have perhaps been spared the 3/4’s Kiss Filler Week. On second thought …..Nope!
NOTHING TO FEAR- one of my favourite tracks of the New England boys! This song is a slow builder at the beginning with just guitar and Waldo’s atmospheric keyboards enhancing the sound in the back! Kids just like how UFO used the keys properly so did New England! Before you know it boom Hirsh slams down the drums and John hits some real cool power riffs and were offf! Nothing To Fear is a great track great everything about it! Watch the video for it posted above filmed last summer! (2014)It’s a great version and Hirsh nails down the lead vocal once the song ramps up!
SHOOT-Jimmy and John lock horns right off the hope and Gary does some cool Bassing and along this song just cooks like New England doing a mash-up with Deep Purple. This song is a road racer of a track! After John tells us the listener that “he’s gonna shoot Ya….” Whammo into some serious keyboard action and John takes over and wrap everything with Hirsh smashing around his drums at the end of the tune! Whoosh…….no fooling around! Crank the vid posted!
TURN OUT THE LIGHT-Yep another slowish kind of tune but a little heavier of a punch than Shall I Run Away! Good song though plenty of single action here and why it was not released as one who the hell knows!
THE LAST SHOW-hey peeps were getting to the end of the Show! Another good rocker! Yeah throw some Deep Purple in the mix with Boston in the New England mash-up! Great song well-played and well sung!
ENCORE-the album ends with a song called Encore! Genius if you ask me! The song is big bombastic and a fitting send off of great rock!
IN CONCLUSION- the fact that these guys fell under the rock radar is injustice I mean basically they slipped through the cracks so much I forgot about them and this album should have been reviewed here a lot earlier! But all these years later it was good spinning this record like talking or in this case listening to a long-lost friend!
New England did however have a shot at the big time as they opened for Kiss on there Dynasty tour and New England did release a second record Explorer Suite that featured some great hard rock AOR tracks like Seal It With A Kiss,Livin In The 80s and a song that should have catapulted them to the top which was Hey You On The Run.
Who knows what happened back than as I read a blurb in some magazine that they disbanded in 1982. I do know that Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo formed Alacatrazz with Graham Bonnet (x Rainbow singer) and a young Yngwie J Malmsteen and carried on for a bit. It’s good to see these guys playing together again (occasionally) with the same 4 guys!
May 2015 and New England drops a new single titled I Know There’s Something Here (first new music in 33 years!)on iTunes!
Check it out….I know I’m gonna!