CD Reviews

Steve Walsh - 'Schemer Dreamer' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 10, 2010    
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Enjoyable album with many different moods.

Back in 1980 there was a bit of a power struggle going on in the Kansas camp between singer/keyboard player Steve Walsh and guitarist/keyboard player Kerry Livgren. Walsh may have been the incredible voice on the hit albums and singles but it was Livgren who’d written all their biggest hits, and after their ‘Monolith’ album it was Livgren who was the first Kansas member to put out a solo album. Not to be outdone Walsh assembled a formidable group of musicians, including guest appearances from Kansas bandmates Rich Williams, Phil Ehart and, rather surprisingly, Livgren himself, and put out this seven track album to little response.
The success of Kansas was partly due to the mix of Livgren’s grandiose orchestral epics and Walsh’s simpler rock and roll leanings, so it came as no surprise that much of ‘Schemer Dreamer’ is pretty direct with simple arrangements and vocal melodies. The insistent boogie of the title track, for instance, merges midway with Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s All Right’; famously covered by Elvis Presley, while there are a couple of other straight rockers in the excellent ‘Get Too Far’ and ‘You Think You’ve Got It Made’, each with great singing and a nice groove. Walsh was always a master of the melodramatic vocal so the ballads ‘So Many Nights’ and ‘Just How It Feels’ are ideal showcases, whilst one of the highpoints was undoubtedly the lengthy and autobiographical ‘Every Step Of The Way’, a shortened version of which would graze the lower reaches of the US singles chart.
Steve Walsh was obviously a big Dixie Dregs fan and as well as violinist Allen Sloan appearing on ‘Just How It Feels’, Walsh teamed up with guitarist Steve Morse for the first time on the albums outstanding track ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’, which starts off with simple melancholic keyboard stabs before erupting into a Dregs-like riff and rocking out in a flurry of notes. There were other clues in there as to Walsh’s next couple of moves with drummer Tim Gehrt playing on most of this album, of course Walsh would famously leave Kansas after one more album (‘Audio-Visions’) to form Streets with Gehrt, and later return to the Kansas fold after the departure of Livgren with Steve Morse in tow as his replacement.
‘Schemer Dreamer’ is an enjoyable album with many different moods and should find favour with fans of his other work, if you haven’t heard it before then it’s well worth checking out. For the first time in the excellent Rock Candy catalogue the beautifully remastered audio isn’t accompanied by the real story of the album. The singer declined to be interviewed and wanted nothing to do with the project, so kudos to our own Dave Cockett for making the sleeve notes an interesting read.

Phil Ashcroft

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