CHANNEL – Channel [Rock Candy remastered]
This is a nice request; the one and only, self-titled album by CHANNEL, ‘Remastered & Reloaded‘ by Rock Candy Records and released on CD for the very first time.
Founded in the early ’80s by vocalist Robert Fleischman, a man who, at one time, had been plucked out of obscurity to join AOR super gods Journey, the band featured a bevy of heavy hitters from the L.A. session world including guitarist Tony Berg (Jay Gruska, Marc Jordan), drummer Gary Ferguson (Eddie Money, Glenn Hughes) and bassist Trey Thompson.
Robert Fleischman was part of Journey from June until November 1977, between the group’s albums, Next and Infinity. He appeared in live concert performances and co-wrote and recorded numerous studio demo tracks during the band’s early writing sessions for the upcoming album, Infinity.
But Journey’s manager Herbie Herbert heard a tape of Steve Perry, and Fleischman was fired. However, all remained friends.
Three of those co-written tracks appear on the album: ‘Anytime’, ‘Wheel in the Sky’ (reaching #57 on the Billboard charts), and ‘Winds of March’.
The only officially released Journey song featuring Fleischman’s vocals is ‘For You’ which can be found on Journey’s box-set release, Time3.
After the short stint with Journey, Fleischman sung in different bands and released an unsuccessful solo album, so decided to put together Channel. There was several line-up changes, then in 1983 Epic Records signed the band.
Released in 1984, to virtually zero acclaim except by a select few, “Channel” was one of the first records introducing into the US market a sub-genre known as High-Tech AOR.
Many artists both from the US and Canada found success playing this style later, but when it comes to stylized High-Tech melodic AOR there are few better examples than the lone Channel album.
The main attraction, apart from the stylishly crafted songs and pin-point production (courtesy of Styx collaborator John Ryan) is undoubtedly the triumphant and hugely compelling vocal performance of Robert Fleischman – a man with an acrobatic range and a tone to die for.
Plenty of inventive guitar work and elegant keyboards, the rhythm section is huge on here as well and the whole band sounds fantastic as a unit.
What I like most about this disc is that you have to actually listen to the songs properly, as they aren’t your usual ‘by numbers’ AOR songs, where you already know what is coming by the song titles.
‘I’m By Your Side’ is one of the best AOR openers ever, there’s catchiness on ‘Made In America’, a smooth midtempo in ‘Is It Someone’, and a winner AOR chorus during ‘When I Look Back’.
Perhaps Channel was a couple of years ahead of its time, and the album went unnoticed.
The band broke up soon after the record hit the streets, and Fleischman subsequently joined Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, while Ferguson went on to work with the Gary Moore Band.
Alongside the melodic and uber-polished production, “Channel” delivers a really solid songwriting and stupendous playing, plus Fleischman’s amazing vocals. What might have attracted Journey to have his services is immediately obvious listening his superb performance here. A real shame they only released the one album, as this is terrific and deserves it place near the top of a long list of quality bands of the time.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01 – I’m By Your Side
02 – The Way I Feel
03 – Made In America
04 – Is It Someone
05 – It’s Not Enough
06 – Wear White
07 – Seen It On Your Face
08 – When I Look Back
09 – The Touch
10 – Girls Like You
Robert Fleischman – vocals
Tony Berg – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Trey Thompson – bass, backing vocals
Gary Ferguson – drums
BUY IT !