MAXUS – Maxus [Japan SHM-CD remastered] (2016)
As part of the Warner Music Japan ‘AOR Best Selection 1300’ reissue series, there’s a little gem that you need to own: MAXUS self-titled album, very hard to find for years with a good, pristine remastered sound this Japanese edition delivers.
This ‘AOR Best Selection 1300’ campaign features the best titles from the label’s catalogue being sold at the affordable price of 1300 Yen (around $11), all remastered and pressed on high quality SHM-CD.
Formed by the cream of the L.A. Session crew, Maxus was a dream-team in early ’80s AOR music. Put together by outstanding songwriter / vocalist Jay Gruska enlisting the immensely talented Robbie Buchanan, Mark Leonard and guitar master Michael Landau, “Maxus” is pure gold.
Blending the elegance of Jay Graydon’s Airplay, Pages, Keane and alike with Toto’s intensity, this one-off album is a must have.
Where Toto’s sound was more on the rock end of the spectrum, Maxus took its overall core and mixed it with equal parts of smoothness.
Gruska had released a solo album in the Seventies; had married Jennifer Williams (daughter of famous film score composer, John Williams); produced his brother-in-law, Joseph Williams, debut album; and had co-written the lead off single from Chicago 16 (What You’re Missing).
Buchanan had played the piano player in the Bette Midler film, The Rose, and toured with Midler in support of the soundtrack album. Doane Perry hadn’t done much work prior to his time with Maxus, but following the band’s split he played with the likes of the Fairport Convention, Dweezil Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Pat Benatar and Dragon before inevitably being invited to be the drummer for Jethro Tull in 1984.
Prior to his brief stint with Maxus, Michael Landau was competing with high school classmate, Steve Lukather, to become the guitarist for Toto and since his time in Maxus he has literally played on thousands of albums for hundreds of different artists.
Produced by guru Michael Omartian, the music on “Maxus” is plenty of synths / keyboards and elegant guitars, crowned by Gruska’s melodic pipes.
Since opener ‘The Higher You Rise’ you are in a treat for perfect light-weight AOR from the ’80s, driven by an arsenal of synths and Mike Landau’s exquisite guitar sound, melodic and incisive.
You have truly catchy choruses on ‘Nobody’s Business’, then refined atmospheres in ‘Keep A Light On’ and the West Coast breeze of ‘Your Imagination’.
More ‘Hi-Tech’ and with a clinical production / arrangements is ‘They Danced’, a style later explored by many bands / solo artists of this ilk, while ‘Part Of You’ is the stupendous ballad on the album.
Closer ‘Where Were You’ is one of my favorites, a wonderful slice of tasty AOR full-on keyboard & guitar galore.
“Maxus” perfectly represents what early ’80s American AOR / FM sound was all about, so if the pristine production, distinguished songwriting and top class musicianship of Airplay, Toto, I-Ten, What If, etc is your thing, then very definitely you need this album in your collection.
I played my old LP to death, so to see this awesome Japanese SHM-CD remastered reissue at this price it’s something like to find a holy grail.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
Warner Music Japan ～ 【ＬＴＤ ＳＨＭ－ＣＤ | WPCR-17406】
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01 – The Higher You Rise
02 – Nobody’s Business
03 – What You Give
04 – Keep A Light On
05 – Your Imagination
06 – They Danced
07 – Part Of You
08 – Don’t Try To Stop Me Now
09 – Where Were You
Jay Gruska – vocals, keyboards
Michael Landau – guitars
Robbie Buchanan – keyboards
Mark Leonard – bass
Doane Perry – drums
BUY IT !