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Walter Egan - 'The Collection' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 03, 2011    
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A very fitting tribute to an associate member of the Fleetwood Mac diaspora.

Walter Egan was a west coast kid. Unfortunately, he was born and raised in New York City and it wasn't until April 1974 that he made it to California following the break up of his band, Sageworth. The band had been admired by Linda Ronstadt's manager, Chris Darrow, but only Egan ventured to the State that had enthralled him so much, Darrow initially accommodating him and then hooking him up with two local musicians with whom he formed the band Ghost Riders. A couple of years passed before a record offer for Egan (but not the others in Ghost Riders) materialised and a four year helter-skelter of recording the four albums presented in 'The Collection' began.

His debut album 'Fundamental Roll' is as much remembered for its salacious back cover as it is for the production job by and heavy musical presence of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The album garnered some success on the back of some decent reviews, but for me the stumbling point of the debut was the low calibre of many of the songs, for which the liberal sprinkling of pixie dust by Messrs Buckingham and Nicks was barely able to compensate. 'Only The Lucky', 'Yes I Guess I Am' and the pure sex-rock of 'Tunnel Of Love' (with Stevie's banshee wails in the background) are, perhaps the standout songs here.

Follow up release 'Not Shy' features a much stronger set of songs, including the magical 'Magnet & Steel' (Egan's million-selling claim to fame) and 'Hot Summer Nights' (a song many of you reading this will know - and this is the original) as well as a tighter production job, Buckingham – in his post Nicks break-up phase – being joined by the redoubtable Richard Dashut for this. Female backing vocals are handled by Annie McLoone (his former Sageworth lead vocalist colleague) of whom it has to be said is a very able replacement for Stevie Nicks (who is, however, featured on 'Magnet & Steel'). Mick Fleetwood is also a notable contributor to the overall sound of this album.

The only Fleetwood Mac connection on album number 3 ('Hi Fi') is that it was recorded in the empty house vacated by Stevie Nicks! It has a rawer, more organic feel to it and another set of strong songs some of which are, in fact, redolent of Fleetwood Mac anyway! Grunge may have spelt the death knell to many aspiring melodic rock bands in the early 90s, but towards the end of the 70s it was disco and punk that between them did the damage to "classic rock" outfits such as Walter Egan & The Professional Band. Add to this a change of top brass at the label and 'Hi Fi' (short for the "high fidelity" he was offering his new love interest – Linda Dickey – the estranged wife of America's bassist) failed to garner significant label support.
Egan found himself in utter chaos financially and emotionally/domestically and it was this turmoil that provided both the backcloth to and the motivation for album number four – 'The Last Stroll'. Key personnel from The Professional Band departed, but he was able to call upon the services of Welsh guitarist Deke Leonard (Man) to replace Tom Moncrieff. It is a quite wonderful album under the circumstances, the songs being mainly new ones and heavily focused upon his break-up with Linda. 'Tuesday Weld' however was all a matter of Egan's early infatuation with the blonde bad girl. Other highlights are 'Y Me? (The last Stroll)' employing the same stroll beat found on 'Magnet & Steel', 'Bad Attitude', 'Motel Broken Hearts', 'Waitin' For The Rain' and a glorious acappella version of 'Magnet & Steel'.

It is a real pleasure for me to find these four albums gathered together, and I hope that those of you who enjoy 70s classic rock / pop and who have yet to sample Walter Egan's music might now wish to do so. He never really set the world on fire, but neither was he a damp squib – and this Collection is certainly a very fitting tribute to an associate member of the Fleetwood Mac diaspora! 

Paul Jerome Smith

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