Friday, April 17, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 135 - The Outfield - Play Deep

By: March

Album - Play Deep
Artist - The Outfield
Key Players - Alan Jackman - drums. Tony Lewis - bass, lead vocals. John Spinks - guitar, vocals.
Produced By - William Wittman

Release Date - 1985

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- A face book "friend" had a line of one of the songs from this record as their "status" recently. That was enough of an "oh yeah" reminder.

Overview - The London England based band "The Outfield" broke onto the US Charts in the mid 1980s. This, their debut would sell over three million copies, but the band would hardly crack the charts in their native land. They'd release three records total as this trio and continue to work on material before taking a break in the mid 1990's. They'd resurface in the late 1990's with a fan club only cd as well as a "rarity" collection. They'd release a few live records and their last studio record was in 2006.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - With the guitar chiming and drums clicking we are off with some high notes on "Say It Isn't So". The band offers up some decent backing vocals but the focus on the record will be with Tony Lewis' very strong voice. He hits some good range but the track keeps a steady pace, and sounds similar to what was on the radio at the time while sounding refreshing at the same time. After a guitar solo the band repeats the verse/chorus and the song fades. Probably the bangs biggest song "Your Love" is next. It has gotten more attention as of late with singer Katy Perry, ("I Kissed a Girl") doing a cover of the tune (it is changed slightly from the original) but it doesn't take long to see why this was so big for the band. Lewis is "up their" vocally but he doesn't seem strained which is odd. The vocals are sung with just a guitar for the first 30 seconds before the band comes in. The tempo is basic and the guitar has a certain ring to it that is fitting. Jackman hits the snare, which has a great snap to it. Listening once more it really is sort of a mid tempo song all in all, you can't work out to this song, but you can't fall asleep to it. Lewis goes even higher vocally as the track begins to wind down and the guitar chimes over it all. The band hits a marching band tempo on "I Don't Need Her". Once again the guitar has a great ring to it and the intro is pretty slick with the bass, drums and guitar. The chorus is where the real hook is (I know I know) but the harmonies are decent and Lewis doesn't go too far over the other vocals. Musically it has the same feel as "Big Country" (FDF looks at "The Crossing" at times, but I personally dug that sound so perhaps that is why I like the track. They hit pay dirt when they wisely repeat the chorus that one extra time. Well played! We get our first taste of ballad on "Everytime You Cry". A single guitar accompanies Lewis at the intro. Some keyboards fill out the space after 30-40 seconds and then a little bit further the drums come in. Once the full bad comes it you hear bits of acoustic guitar, keyboards to fill it out. On the verse we go back to the single guitar for the first portions of the verses. Lewis makes it a point to hit those notes once more. We have the guitar solo, but don't go right back to just Lewis and the guitar, this time the verse is with the full band. It loops the chorus and the band has an interlude before wrapping it up. "61 Seconds" is back to a more rock feel. Guitar and drums are right up at the start. By this point of the record we are used to the guitar sound and the drum lines all keeping in check, and within their bounds on the tracks. It is not that they are bad, it just hasn't gotten that interesting either. Sure there are solos, or drum break downs but what holds the whole bunch together is the just great pop feel of the songs, so in the end it works. Opening with some spacy keyboards "Mystery Man" begins. After a few loops on keyboard the guitars come up and for the first time you really hear the bass up in the mix. The song is about as heavy as the band gets but they still keep the pop feel to it. Another track "All the Love" keeps the same intro of guitar and drums before Lewis comes in. The drums have more of an "electric" sound on this track than on others. Lewis still hits this notes that are off the charts and the harmonies are good, and compliment his range very well. The guitar solo returns and keeps in check, but being not too long, or too flashy. "Talk to Me" has a bit of different feel to it. Opening with the drums and guitar the vocals have a choppiness to them that we haven't really heard. The verse has a good section of urgency before leading to the chorus, which is very laid back and really only repeats the same lines. (I know most chorus' do that, but it stood out). We open "big" on "Taking My Chances" with big chords and deep drums, it is very dramatic at times. The guitar solo is a slow to build affair and the song keeps the dark feel for the bulk of the track, before the band speeds it up for the final run of chorus and verse. The record closes with "Nervous Alibi" a track that really showcases Lewis. With a single guitar Lewis unloads vocally hitting these off the charts notes. The are a few cymbal rolls and some bass notes tossed in a little leading to the second verse. The band gets big for an instrumental interlude before returning to the lone guitar and Lewis for that one more "big note" moment, and he doesn't fail us. The song slowly fades and the cd ends.

Where are they now? - The band is still active to this day. According the bands official web site they have a record that is a "all but done" (updated in December of 2008). Drummer Alan Jackman left the band after their third record. According to the bands site as well, Spinks has had some health issues, but appears to be on the mend. The band has even had music from this record included in the "Grand Theft Auto" game series.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band live. The only chance that I came close was when (ohh boy deep breath....) I went to see Night Ranger and The Outfield was supposed to open for them. This record started to "blow up" so the Outfield bowed out of an opening slot and didn't tour with Night Ranger. We were given as the opener that night...Great White. Whew, that was rough...

FDF Overall Take - There are some decent moments on this record I have to admit. Musically it feels a tad "generic" for the time but Lewis has such a set of pipes you almost want "more" vocals since he is so much fun to listen to. If you like the singles chances are you'd like the bulk of this record. If need be there are some best of collections as well.

The Outfieldofficial site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3s have been removed.

I Don't Need Her
Say It Isn't So
Your Love

All three tracks taken from Play Deep, which you can buy 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 9:16 AM, Anonymous BBS said...

I hung out with the guys, mostly John in London back in 1985 before this record hit. I was shocked when I saw these guys on Mtv...That and the fact that the girl I went over to see dumped me because she was dating the Drummer...

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Jenny G said...

Heh Night Ranger. Your Love is a guilty pleasure song of mine, but I don't know any of their others.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

Night Ranger. Snort.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger Ello said...

Wow! I actually had this album!!!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Viszlát Sjáumst said...

Another gem... Loved this CD in high school.

I actually went to see these guys at the Paradise in '85 or '86 (whenever they were in Boston). My friend's dad drove three of us into town in his Dodge Caravan (probably one of the originals!), dropped us off and picked us up afterwards.

We were right up against the stage. One friend touched the guys guitar and the other one stole the set list after the show.

Good times, good times...

At 5:01 PM, Blogger MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

DUDE!!!! I have all their songs on my itunes!!! And I saw them in concert way back when --I think they opened for Mike and the Mechanics. We also had a carpet in our dorm in college where we took markers and wrote stuff on it--we had THE OUTFIELD ROCKS all over it!

You have great taste in music, but I already knew this cuz you love HSM 1, 2 and 3 ...

BTW, what did you think of GLEE? Tell me YOU DID NOT LOVE THAT SHOW? I've already downloaded the songs from the show! : )


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