Fireworks

Prophet release best of album 'Asylum' on October 21st

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The debut album from New Jersey pompsters, Prophet, was a real closet classic when it was released in 1985. It also kick-started the career of Ted Poley (as a drummer) and featured the late, great Dean Fasano on vocals. A shift in personnel saw them recruit Russell Arcara for their major label debut “Cycle Of The Moon”, an album that should have propelled them onto greater things. With a third album “Recycled” almost slipping by, it was the end of the line for a band that promised everything and delivered it in spades. It’s just a shame that no-one was paying attention. 

Formed in 1979 by Joe Zujkowski (who in recent years has sadly passed away) & Ken Metaxas, the High School friends had played in several bands together.  “We found guitarist Ken Dubman, who was 16 at the time, by advertising in “The Aquarian”, a local music scene magazine,” explains Metaxas, “That became the core of Prophet.  We went through a series of drummers & singers as we played the local cover band scene in the NJ, NY tri-state area.  We built our crowd up to around 1500 people a night and after a few years, we started to think about taking the band to the next level.”

Retaining the services of Stu Rick, a local mover & shaker, as management, they began to write and record demos to shop around for a re-cord deal.  “Yeah, we ended up signing with RCA records & they put us on the same label as The Gap Band,” laughs Metaxas, “It was to try and turn that label into a more diverse entity.” When the debut came out in ’85, it was afforded an almost cult status, especially here in the UK. For Ted Poley it was an exciting time, as he explained to me in ’07, “It's a real underground favourite, a really neat record and it was also my first time on an album. They were a really big club band that used to play progressive rock. Those nights really turned me into a great musician. In fact wherever I play whether it's in Rio or Germany there's always some-body that turns up with a copy for signing.” Having toured the States, playing with Nightranger along the way, Prophet hit the first hurdles in a seemingly faultless career, as Metaxas explains, “We had some problems with our singer Dean at the time, so we had to regroup & find a replacement. We tried to talk Ted Poley, our drummer at the time, into becoming our singer but he felt he was not ready for that move,” something that Poley reiterated when I spoke to him in ‘07, “Yeah, they wanted me to become the lead singer, but I didn't want to be the lead singer. I did do the pre-production for all the things that followed. It was all rehearsed, it was all set, and I’d done all the drum parts, a lot of the vocals, you know....and then left!” With the band now being managed by Noel Monk, Van Halen’s manager, the songs for their sophomore album, “Cycle Of The Moon”, had already been written and the direction of the album was mapped out. As Fasano struggled with personal problems, the band needed to move forward. So as he followed Poley out of the door, it was down to ex-Surgin vocalist Russell Arcara to enter the fold and push the band to the next level. Having been a member of Prophet in the earlier years, when they were a covers band, he ironically left because he wanted to play original material.

Now signed to Megaforce, it saw the band moving in different circles and the resulting album, “Cycle Of The Moon”, should have pushed the band to bigger and better things. Unfortunately it didn’t, as Metaxas explains, “At that time, the president of Atlantic Records was, besides Johnny Z, our biggest sup-porter.  We were a top priority there until he took a job with Columbia Records.  That was right before our video for “Sound of a Breaking Heart” came out.  After he left, the new president shifted focus behind the bands that he had brought to the label & all of our momentum dissipated. Timing is  Indeed, timing is every-thing. With the fortunes of Dream Theatre spiralling upwards, with a sound not that distant from what Prophet was trying to achieve, the fortunes of the New Jersey act were in free-fall.  Out of contract, they cut a third album, “Recycled”, for Halcyon Records in ’91. Produced by Metaxas, it saw a band stuck between styles. It hardly raised a blip on the radar and a once stellar act slipped away into obscurity  After a fabulous performance at last year’s Z Rock, it saw the reunited band – that included Scott Metaxas, Ken Dubman and Russell Arcara - in fine form. With renewed interest in them at a high, the release of “Asylum” is perfect. Capturing the spirit of this great act, it encompasses everything that the die-hard fan could wish for, but is also the perfect starting point for the casual observer. From the lush Pomp of songs such as “Street Secrets” and “Powerplay”, to the harder edged rock of “Cycle Of The Moon” and “Run With The Pack”, it show-cases a fabulous band that should have done so much more.

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