Billy Thorpe - 'East Of Eden's Gate'

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Billy Thorpe - 'East Of Eden's Gate'

A catchy, superb sounding album.

I was moderately familiar with Billy Thorpe and own rarely-played vinyl versions of his 1979 concept album 'Children Of The Sun' and this 1982 opus, but I'd never really been interested enough to hunt down CD versions of either. I must humbly admit that Howard Johnson's liner essay has opened my eyes to a truly eclectic artist, from the success of his 60s band Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs in Australia and his prolific solo career after a move from Melbourne to L.A., to subsequent TV soundtrack work on series like Star Trek : The Next Generation and Columbo, co-writing a series of Children's books and even owning a soft toy business up to his death in 2007. Who knew that this respected all-round talented Australian was actually born in Manchester? Not me!

Like most of his previous records, 'East Of Eden's Gate' was a collaboration between Thorpe and successful producer Spencer Proffer, of Quiet Riot, Little River Band and The Outlaws fame, with Proffer bringing in respected musicians like QR drummer Frankie Banali and David Bowie axeman Earl Slick, the results being far more song-oriented and commercial than his successful 1979 space-rock extravaganza. The album is bookended by the title track and 'Dogs Of War (Flesh And Blood)', two longer tracks that exude broody atmospherics and are probably the highlights, giving full reign to Proffer's widescreen approach to making records. Between those it's mostly quirky pop/rock built around clever arrangements, great musicianship and Thorpe's immediately identifiable vocals, like the catchy 'Hold On To Your Dreams', the Cars-like New Wave/pop ditty 'While You're Still Young' and the cool R&B swagger of 'No Show Tonight'. Thorpe's voice was quite original and may seem a little bit of an acquired taste at first, but you could easily imagine Eddie Money singing 'I Can't Stand It' or 'Cruisin' (The Town In The Heat Of The Night)', which is as high a recommendation for this catchy, superb sounding album as you could get.

Phil Ashcroft

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