STEPHEN CRANE – Kicks [AOR Heaven Digitally Remastered reissue] (2021) *EXCLUSIVE*
AOR Heaven Records just put out a remastered reissue of STEPHEN CRANE‘s 1984 album “Kicks“, a pretty unknown recording for AOR / Melodic Rock fans of the genre, but one that will delight your ears with that Eighties unique sound & style.
Crane was member / songwriter for a band called Baby at the end of the Seventies, and his opportunity as solo artist arrived in 1984 by the hand of major label MCA. “Kicks” was co-produced by Jai Winding (Le Roux) who also played keys, and no-other than the great Steve Lukather. In fact, all TOTO guys were involved in the recording including groove master Jeff Porcaro on drums.
We also find Richard Page (Mr. Mister, Pages) and AOR master Tom Kelly (I-Ten, Van Stephenson, Survivor) doing backing vocals, together with brilliant session guitar players such as Duane Sciacqua, Joey Brasler and Ray Pannell.
The multitude of guitarists has an explanation; “Kicks” for the most part is a guitar driven AOR / Melodic Rock album with a 1984’s radio friendly sound. And on most tracks, we found three different six-string axeman playing together in the same song, including Lukather.
Crane’s pumping bass lines add even more muscle to the tunes, and his sometimes raspy but melodic vocals reminds you a cross of a young Brock Walsh, Van Stephenson on the calmer moments, and Paul Sabu circa his album ‘Heartbreaker’ on the edgy.
There’s not a single weak track here, going from hooky and catchy numbers like “Headed For A Heartbreak”, “Joanne” or the urgent “Victims Of Love”, to more AORish cuts such as the Toto-esque “Back On My Feet Again” (featuring a killer Lukather solo), the Van Stephenson sounding “I’ll Take Care Of You”, or ‘Crying Don’t Look Good On You’ bringing to mind Stan Bush.
Criminally ignored not only by MR / AOR fans in general – but also by the industry as it never was released on CD back in the day – “Kicks” is one of the best records in this genre many fans never heard.
Only at 0dayrox
01 – Headed For A Heartbreak
02 – Joanne
03 – Kicks
04 – All My Love
05 – Victims Of Love
06 – I Can’t Wait
07 – Back On My Feet Again
08 – I’ll Take Care For You
09 – Sooner Or Later
10 – Crying Don’t Look Good On You
Stephen Crane – Vocals, Bass
Steve Lukather – Guitar, Farfisa Organ, Backing Vocals
Duane Sciacqua, Joey Brasler, Ray Pannell – Guitar
Jeff Porcaro, David Crockett, Jody Cortez – Drums
Jai Winding, James Newton Howard – Keyboards
Steve Porcaro – Synthesizer, Programing
Tom Kelly, Richard Page – Backing Vocals
Produced by Jai Winding & Steve Lukather