Robbie Dupree, Chicago, Yes’ Peter Banks + Others: Five for the Road

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Robbie Dupree, Chicago and Peter Banks are part of the latest edition of Five for the Road, an occasional look at music that’s been in my car lately …

ROBBIE DUPREE – ROBBIE DUPREE (1980; 2018 reissue): Blixa Sounds has set sail on its yacht for 1980. Along the way, they rediscovered Robbie Dupree’s self-titled debut. It’s easy to see why the original release was so popular, as it is finely honed pop-rock, drenched with hooks and exquisite playing by the likes of Dennis Herring, Bill LaBounty and Michael Boddicker among others. Sure, you know the smash hit “Steal Away,” but check out the Spanish version (“Nacaguemos”), as well as the excellent bonus version of “Hot Rod Hearts” called “Autos De Amor.” This reissue is like meeting an old friend.

STEPHEN BISHOP – RED CAB TO MANHATTAN (1980; 2018 reissue): Returning to Stephen Bishop’s 1980 flop might seem like a unusual choice. Now enhanced with six bonus songs, Red Cab to Manhattan is actually strong from start to finish. Bishop’s composition skills are well known, and they are firmly in place on his third album. Bishop’s straight-forward pop/rock skills are sharpened on this project, which was originally produced by Mike Mainieri and Tommy LiPuma. It doesn’t hurt that the album features a who’s who of rock’s best (Steve Gadd, Phil Collims, Dean Parks), but ultimately it’s Stephen Bishop’s songs and voice that make this a great listen. Check out “Send a Little Love My Way (Like Always),” and his off-the-cuff take on “Hit the Road Jack.”

ROBBIE DUPREE – STREET CORNER HEROES (1981; 2018 reissue): Street Corner Heroes was not as big a hit as his debut, but it contains just as much musical acumen. Produced by Rick Chudacoff and Peter Bunetta, this is is a throw back to the classic Los Angeles adult-contemporary sound. Street Corner Heroes is expertly produced, and played. Robbie Dupree’s lyrics were even more homed on this release. As with Dupree’s debut, this album has been reissued with additional material – though not much. Still, the sonic improvement over the original almost makes up for the fact there is only one bonus song, the single version of “Saturday Night.”

PETER BANKS – BE WELL, BE SAFE, BE LUCKY: THE ANTHOLOGY (2018): This 30-song compilation of solo works by the late co-founding Yes guitarist is quite a surprise. Though he was originally let go because Yes wanted a more versatile performer, Peter Banks demonstrates far more writing and guitar-playing prowess on Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky than he ever had a chance to while still a member of the band. He moves effortlessly from progressive rock to fusion jazz, and even shows off his acoustic-playing chops. Banks also is an overlooked composer and arranger. Songs like “Dirty Little Secret” and “As Night Falls … and Continues” are memorizing. Meanwhile, the Peter Banks version of Yes’ “Astral Traveler” is downright jaw dropping.

CHICAGO – VI DECADES LIVE [THIS IS WHAT WE DO] (2018): Chicago is done with greatest-hits packages and Christmas albums, Robert Lamm promised in a recent interview. Luckily, he didn’t say no more box sets! VI Decades Live is easily Chicago’s best box. What’s so great is that the original band is captured in all its glory on the first two discs at the Isle of Wright Festival in 1970. The songs you expect from that era are here in all their glory, while Disc 3 surprises with the best live version of “A Hit By Varese” ever – as well as an outstanding version of “Liberation.” Disc 4 is a bizarre mix of songs from 1978-2014; however, the live version of “The Pull” (featuring Jason Scheff and Dawayne Bailey) and the “In The Midnight Hour Medley” (featuring Bill Champlin) are almost worth the price of admission alone. This compact-disc edition includes a strong DVD of the Rockpalast 1977 performance but, unfortunately, you don’t get any liner notes.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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