RICHARD PAGE – Peculiar Life (2010)
“The album title pretty much sums it up for me” Richard Page says with a wry smile.
The veteran writer/artist is referring to both his second solo album, “Peculiar Life” and his bifurcated career, which belies F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contention that there are no second acts in American life.
Page spent the 1980s fronting the bands PAGES and the chart-topping Mr. MISTER before becoming the provider of material for others, in part via his longstanding relationships with producer David Foster.
But functioning purely as a writer for hire “doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting to do your own thing, especially when you have to make compromises”, Page explains of the motivation behind the writing and recording of Peculiar Life, his first album since 1995’s ‘Shelter Me’.
“So I really started missing this again, though it amps my life up tremendously and is hard on the family. But there’s something special about doing your own record and making your own music that I really missed, and I didn’t know how much I missed it until I went through this experience.”
Gathering the all-star core band of drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck, Sting, Herbie Hancock), percussionist Luis Conte (Pat Metheny, James Taylor, Jackson Browne), bassist Kevin McCormick (a mainstay of Browne’s longtime band) and guitarist James Harrah (Chris Botti, Elton John, John Prine), the Malibu-based artist brought a special set of songs to the nearby studio of his surfer buddy Richard Gibbs (an Oingo Boingo member turned film scorer), who’d readily agreed to co-produce after hearing the material.
“Richard Gibbs, who’s a great musician and helped me a lot, insisted that we have live musicians playing everything,” says Page.
“To me, if music sounds and feels good, I don’t really care if it was played by a machine or human beings. But I admit, I’d gotten swept up in programming because it’s so easy to write when you program, with so many tools at your fingertips.
But having done this record, I can now see that I’d forgotten how nuanced real musicianship can be. I had most of the songs somewhat arranged already, and many of the vocals were done here at my studio.
I took over the mockups—essentially song demos with programmed sounds, vocals and some guitar—to Gibbs’s studio, and we replaced nearly all the instruments.
The guys appreciated being able to play to songs that already had lead and background vocals and ideas that were already finished thoughts. So it worked out pretty cool that way.”
The resulting album—mixed by the brilliant Elliot Scheiner (Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles)—sounds as taut and vibrant as you’d expect from the collective chops and experience of this crew; the revelation here has to do with the depth of Page’s writing.
The dozen songs range from the brightness of “Brand New Day” (“When I wrote that one, I was thinking that things are gonna be OK, and it’s OK to say so”) to the dark night of the soul evoked in “Shadow On My Life”; from the life-embracing pop of “No Tomorrow” (co-written with his old friend Richard Marx) and “You Are Mine” (a collaboration with Nashville-based songsmiths Melissa Pierce and Mike Busbee) and to the album’s three-pronged spiritual center, comprising the provocative title song, the contemplative “Worldly Things” and the widescreen epic “When You Come Around,” each of them at once intensely personal and universally relatable.
Accumulated over a number of years, these songs spoke to Page in a different way from the rest of his output.
“When I write a song”, he explains, “I automatically think, ‘Who could I pitch that to?’ And with some of these songs I would think, ‘Nobody.’
Not because they’re so great but because I just can’t imagine anyone else doing them; they’re so personal and have so much of my own stamp on them.
Frankly, some songs can work for many different singers, but with these, I felt I needed to do my own thing with them.”
After waiting almost 15 years for a second solo effort, this is quite a feast from Richard Page.
This album offers lots of great songs with variety of styles and tempo.
Richard’s voice is better than ever and needless to say; he has one of the most beautiful male voices in the business.
Self-released but perfectly produced, “Peculiar Life” is a clear example of the talent and sensibility by this incredible musician.
Most of you come here looking for bombastic tunes, sing-along choruses or electrifying guitars.
“Peculiar Life” is a different thing, on another level too. This is TOP CLASS music, pure, clever, charming and haunting.
Do yourself a favor, get right now one of the albums of the year, one of these that, sadly, never will be exposed to mainstream audience.
01 – A Kiss On The Wind (Richard Page)
02 – You Are Mine (Richard Page, Busbee & Melissa Peirce)
03 – Worldly Things (Richard Page & Steve George)
04 – Peculiar Life (Richard Page)
05 – No Tomorrow (Richard Page & Richard Marx)
06 – The Truth Is Beautiful (R. Page, Per Magnusson & D. Kreiger)
07 – Brand New Day (Richard Page)
08 – When You Come Around (Richard Page & J. Van Der Saag)
09 – Peace Of Mind (Lee Miracle, Tai Miracle & Richard Page)
10 – Shadow On My Life (Richard Page & John Lang)
11 – Give It Away (Richard Page)
12 – Waiting (Richard Page & John Lang)
Produced by Richard Gibbs & Richard Page
Mixed by Elliot Scheiner at The Eyeball
Richard Page : Vocals, Bass, Acoustic Guitar & Piano
Richard Gibbs : Hammond B3, Synths, Piano
Vinnie Colaiuta : Drums
Luis Conte : Percussion
James Harrah : Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Kevin McCormick : Bass
Greg Leisz : Pedal Steel & Acoustic Guitar
Francesca Richards : Vocals on “No Tomorrow”
Aja Page (Richard’s daughter) : Vocals on “Peace Of Mind”
Jochem Van Der Saag : Programming & Additional Engineering
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!