CD Reviews

Eddie Money - 'Eddie Money' / 'Life For The Taking' / 'Playing For Keeps' / 'No Control' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 16, 2013    
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Rock Candy have again done an excellent job with these re-issues.

After a brief career following in his father's footsteps in law enforcement, Brooklyn native Edward Mahoney paid his dues in the pubs and clubs of Berkeley, California for several years before being noticed by legendary impresario and promoter Bill Graham. Scoring a record deal with Columbia, his 1977 Bruce Botnick-produced debut album showcased not only his blues-based rock influences but also his interest in Soul and R & B. Featuring the Steve Miller Band rhythm section of Lonnie Turner and Gary Mallaber, session keyboard players Alan Pasqua and Randy Nichols, and his long-time friend Jimmy Lyon on scorching lead guitars, 'Eddie Money' was a hit right off the bat with the catchy, radio-friendly shuffle beat of 'Two Tickets To Paradise' and the poppy 'Baby Hold On' both scoring highly on the US singles chart. Other highlights were the autographical boogie of 'Wanna Be A Rock'N'Roll Star', the funky 'Got To Get Another Girl' and the Southern Rock stylings of 'Gamblin Man', and whilst a couple of the other tracks may be a little too removed from his rock roots, it was a varied and mature debut that put him firmly on the map.

Virtually the same band, producer and special guests consolidated Money's position with the successful 'Life For The Taking' in 1979, and this time out the different styles were even more pronounced. Whilst the debut mixed everything up, the sophomore release had all the bluesy hard rockers on side one and the pop/R & B songs on the second side. Obviously for Fireworks readers I expect the former would be of most interest, the guitar-based 'Can't Keep A Good Man Down', 'Nightmare', 'Gimme Some Water' and 'Rock And Roll The Place' all demonstrating Money's knack of not just singing the songs, but living them, with Jimmy Lyon's fantastic guitar playing wrenching every ounce of emotion between Money's storytelling lyrics. On the flip side 'Maybe I'm A Fool' was an attempt to repeat the success of 'Baby Hold On' and 'Love The Way You Love Me' did a similar job a little better, but it's the two tracks that bookend the album that are Money at his finest. The title track has a confident swagger with power chords, great vocal melodies, the breathtaking use of strings and no small amount of magic from the under-rated Lyon, and the closing 'Call On Me' is as majestic a soulful ballad as you could hope for, again with a truly wonderful guitar solo.

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The onset of the 80s saw a slight musical twist for Eddie Money, bringing in respected producer Ron Nevison to add some gloss to the sound of 'Playing For Keeps'. The results were mixed, from the superb reggae-tinged AOR of opener 'Trinidad', the big sound and groove of the smoking 'Get A Move On' and 'Million Dollar Girl', and the best of both Money's worlds on the excellent 'The Wish', to the lack of genuine feeling in 'When You Took My Heart' and the truly awful ballad 'Let's Be Lovers Again' – an ill-advised duet with Valerie Carter. 'Satin Angel' has the biggest guitar presence but would sadly herald a much smaller role for Jimmy Lyon. Not a bad album by any means, and actually one of Money's best sounding releases, it didn't produce any hit singles despite the money spent on it and the man himself later had a stroke brought on by a mixture of drink and drugs that has left him with a limp to this day.

With medical bills wiping out his considerable savings, 1982 saw Money back with a new label and a hit new album in 'No Control'. Veteran producer Tom Dowd reined in a little of the glossiness whilst keeping the AOR feel of its predecessor, resulting in the infectious pop/rock feel that pervades the superb 'Runnin' Away', the groovy 'Keep My Motor Runnin'' and the irresistible title track. 'Think I'm In Love' gave him another top 20 single and the simply gorgeous 'Shakin'' was a hit as well, and despite the album dipping in quality, tempo and intensity towards the end, it was an excellent comeback that made up a lot of lost ground.

Rock Candy have again done an excellent job with these re-issues, the sleeve essays by Howard Johnson showing Eddie Money as a glass half full guy who never looks back and continues to make music for all the right reasons. His complete lack of UK dates since the 70s may have made him no more than a cult act here, but don't let that stop you from checking out the first four albums from this remarkable and consistent artist.

Phil Ashcroft

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