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Johnny Warman - 'Walking Into Mirrors' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 18, 2011    
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A tremendously welcome reissue.

With his previous band Bearded Lady having disbanded after a tour supporting The Jam, singer and guitarist Johnny Warman began looking towards a solo career. Initially hooking up with Ringo Starr's Ring O'Records, Warman was scheduled to release his debut effort 'Hour Glass' in 1978. Unfortunately Ring O'Records went bust just as the album was due to hit the shelves, although they did put out the single 'Head On Collision'. Undaunted Warman, who had retained the tapes for the album, moved onto RCA Records, and eventually released 'Hour Glass' a year later. The album flopped, with Warman then deciding to form the band 3 Minutes with bassist Paul Martinez and drummer Jeff Rich, releasing the single 'Automatic Kids' through Rocket Records before folding, with Rich moving onto Status Quo. 

Rocket kept Warman on their roster and Johnny set about putting together another solo album using the demos 3 Minutes had recorded as a base for his vision. To give himself the best chance of success, Warman set about hiring the best set of musicians he could with Phil Collins agreeing to play drums until a scheduling clash led him to suggest Jerry Marotta who was in Peter Gabriel's band. The Gabriel link grew when Tony Levin joined to play bass and Larry Fast added synthesizer effects and keyboards, and during the recording of the album Gabriel himself took to phoning his band mates to find out how things were progressing. Spotting an opportunity Warman asked Gabriel if he would sing on the album, a request to which he agreed, and the resulting song 'Screaming Jets' which it has to be said sounds remarkably like a Peter Gabriel solo track, was a huge hit in Australia, selling 76,000 copies. The album 'Walking Into Mirrors' wasn't such a smash although it still sold a respectable 100,000 copies worldwide and even after nearly thirty years, it is easy to hear why.

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'Walking Into Mirrors' is a smart marriage of electronic rock with the chart oriented prog that Gabriel would actually go on to have huge success with and the overall effect is one of intricate beats and rhythms that weave their way through some enigmatic keyboard and guitar playing. Warman himself has a tremendously evocative voice that adds a real a edge and atmosphere to the music, with tracks like the excellent 'Fantastic Light', or 'Three Minutes' (the latter sounding a bit Bowie like) being sharp, incisive blasts that grow more interesting with every listen. 'Screaming Jets' stands up favourably with Gabriel's own eighties output, with the two singers bouncing lines and phrases off each other to great effect, while 'Martian Summer' floats along on beautiful layers of keyboards and effects and Warman's warmest vocal of the whole album. As ever with Angel Air's output, there are (six) excellent bonus tracks, this time culled from b sides and the single 3 Minutes release, which is similar to Gary Numan's output from the time. Add to that, two videos tracks and an excellent sound and 'Walking Into Mirrors' makes for a tremendously welcome reissue.

Steven Reid

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