Friday, March 13, 2009

FDF Volume 2 : Issue 130 : The Ocean Blue - The Ocean Blue

By: March

Album - The Ocean Blue
Artist - The Ocean Blue
Key Players - Rob Minnig -drums. Bobby Mittan - bass. Steve Lau - saxophone, keyboards, backing vocals. David Schelzel - Lead vocals, guitar.
Produced By - Mark Opitz

Release Date - July 20, 1989

What caused me to blow off the dust? - This is a cd that I played and played and played for a solid year and a half. Each song holds a special place with me and always takes me back to that time (a very good/fun time indeed) A lot of good memories with this one, and with winter in it's final throw's I needed something to take me "somewhere else" for 60 minutes. This was the perfect fit this week.

Overview - Hershey, Pennsylvania band The Ocean Blue formed in 1986 and while still teenagers in high school singed a three record deal with Sire Records in 1988. Sire record founder Seymour Stein lobbied heavily for the band to be signed and the debut record was released in 1989. Early fans were surprised the band was not "British" and the label worked hard for radio and MTV play. The band would tour extensivley for the record and would go on to sell 150,000+ copies The band would tour and spend much time in the studio before releasing its next record (Cerulean) and it would bring the band a little more success in the sales department but grunge movement was just starting. The band released their final record for Sire in 1993 and Lau would leave the band the next year. The band would not resign with Sire but continue to release new music.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The lead off single "Between Something and Nothing " opens up the record with a guitar chime sounding an awful lot like bands from the UK at the time. The drums are basic, but tight as keyboards fill in the background. Schelzel has an airy voice that fits perfect with the sound of the band and the track has a nice tempo, with the guitar really being the showcase that is really brought to shine during his terrific guitar solo. "Vanity Fair" opens with a bouncing drum line with Mittan falling in to a nice swooping bass groove. Minning keeps perfect time and Lau has the keyboards washing over it all. The rhythm section gets to shine on this track, although not overly "technical" the band keeps everything right in check and even closes the song by speeding everything up. Drums and saxophone open up "Drifting, Falling". Schelzel plays the acoustic guitar and the song has a very happy feel to it. The band sounds "serious" but the vibe of the song will only bring smiles, probably due to the perfect pitch of Lau's saxophone work. The bass/drum break down towards the end adds a technical feel, showing even more musical ability from the band. Heavily mic'd drums open up "Circus Animals" and the guitars swirl above. Once more, Mittan gets a showcase on bass. We are not at a breakneck speed but the bass is strong and pushed up. The guitar is also a has a trippy/airy feel about it and the keyboards over that add a strong touch. Schelzel gets a crunchier feel on the guitar later, but the bass/drums and keyboards remain at the prefect pitch. The keyboards (and bass) once more get to show off some on "Frigid Winter Days", the keyboard poppiest track on the disc. The groove and feel are only accented by some nice backing vocals of "oohs and ahhs". The track keeps at a solid clip, one of the faster tracks on the record, but its by no means an overly fast tune. A strong acoustic guitar opens "Just Let Me Know" and the keyboards blend individual notes to an atmospheric feel. The bass and drums have a strong punch and Schelzel sings in a higher vocal range than on any prior track. The most smile inducing song comes in the form of "Love Song" with Mittan and Minning get to play off one another. The soaring chorus of "ya-ooohs" is only more perfect with the keyboard chords. Lau opens up "Ask Me John" and the band follows suit with Minning getting the spotlight on some of the better engineered (sounding) drums on the track. The rolls/riffs are all perfect and fill the void wonderfully. Lau also comes in with a saxophone line once more (the second track to have sax) he spreads his wings a little more with a nice solo before the track returns to its groove. The aptly titled "Awaking To A Dream" has a groggy feel to it, with smooth and soothing bass and keyboards. The drums are eased up on, but brushes don't appear to be used. Later in the track we "wake up" and the band gets noisy again, but it calms quickly. Acoustic guitar and drums slap open "The Office Of A Busy Man". Lau has a very 80's sounding keyboard over the guitar and drums. The song appears to be about label exec Stein, but that could just me my take on it. The song sort of falls into all the cliches of every persons perception that the (record exec) is too busy. A decent song that has some good mood swings. We keep the acoustic out for "Myron" and Minning gets a work out once more. Lau keeps the atmosphere going and Mittan plays off Minning really well. As the record has progressed and I focused more on it, these guys really played very very well off one another. The record ends with "A Familiar Face" a track that slowly fades up with guitar and keyboards.

Where are they now? - The band is still recording and touring. David and Bobby have remained on board the entire run. Rob left in 2001 after growing road weary and Steve left the band in 1994 to peruse work in the music industry. The band reportedly has a record that was completed in 2007 but it has not been released.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I saw them on January 26, 1990 as the middle band on the "Laughtour". They were opening for fellow label mates The Mighty Lemon Drops. The band was good and I actually met David near the back of the club and he signed the set list for me. The next time I saw them was a free show at the Cambridge Side Galleria (a mall) on a floating stage. The band didn't play all that long and I am pretty sure it was on tour for their second record, or it was still the summer of 1990. (anyone know for sure?)

FDF Overall Take - This record front to back means a lot to me personally. "Alternative" music was getting to be a little more mainstream and I was always looking for a new band, that would get more broad appeal. The band never got really big, but for a good summer this cd got a lot of play at parties (even if its not really a party cd). I was also in a band at the time and we did at least 3 songs from this record, so personally I look back on this record fondly. A fun, alterna-pop record that you should check out.

The band has an official site here, and a myspace page here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3's have been removed.
Drifting Falling
Just Let Me Know
Between Something and Nothing

All the tracks were taken from the Debut Record "The Ocean Blue" and you can buy a copy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Ello said...

I remember the name but not the music! Wow. And how cool that you met them? Ok - I'm going to check this out right away! Thanks as always!

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous george said...

I remember your band playing "between Something and Nothing" at a house party and I pretty much thought it was the coolest thing ever.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ran into Dave (lead) in a small record store in Lancaster PA. It was back in 92. I don't know why I remember this but he was driving a Saab back then. I saw them in the Chameleon club at least twice in Lancaster PA. Great band, miss those days. Have you ever heard their live cover of the Smiths' "There is a light that never go out?" Really brilliant.


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