Nearly thirty years later, the 1985 Billy Satellite demos finally get an official release from AOR Heaven, but truth be told, I wish they hadn’t, because the quality of the output is pretty poor.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Billy Satellite
ALBUM: Billy Satellite II
LABEL: AOR Heaven
CD INFO: Discogs Info List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Monty Byrom – vocals, guitars * Danny Chauncey – guitars * Ira Walker – bass * Tom Falletti – drums * Bill Cuomo – guest keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 You And Me Tonight * 02 Honesty * 03 Slippin’ Away * 04 Fantasy Girl * 05 Secrets In Her Heart * 06 Sorry * 07 You Got Nothing On Me * 08 Girls Like You * 09 Turnin’ Pages * 10 Final Stand
The debut Billy Satellite album remains a permanent fixture in my CD collection. No doubt others too. Nothing more needs to be said on that LP/CD. A top tenner for mine. Of course the band stored up a bunch of demos for a possible 1985 sophomore release. This unfortunately didn’t happen with Capitol Records, and the members eventually went their separate ways.
Years later, these demos finally get an official release from AOR Heaven, but truth be told, I wish they hadn’t, because the quality of the output is pretty poor. If the quality couldn’t be given a pristine mix, then they should’ve left the songs alone. There’s nothing worse than mutton dressed up as lamb, as the saying goes. By the time this album was ready to be recorded in 1985, Monty and the Billy Satellite team were up against it.
New producer Keith Olsen wanted to ring in the changes, including the idea of bringing in session bassist Randy Jackson. Creative differences had arrived in town early it would seem. Only keyboardist Bill Cuomo was added to the project, but Ira Walker was retained. Also gone was Capitol’s A&R ‘go-to’ guy John Carter. Once replacement Jimmy Iovine came in, Billy Satellite were out. The album was shelved for decades.
The opener ‘You And Me And The Night’ is a fantastic song, and showcases the band’s harder approach second time in. But it’s also here that the fidelity issues are apparent. It’s beyond shoddy to be honest. In fact, the quality of the songs overall are superb, and one only wishes that the original takes could’ve been preserved for posterity’s sake, and for proper future restoration.
The change in fidelity is obvious once we transition to the second track ‘Sorry’. Just imagine if this was on the debut album? It would’ve made an outrageous companion to ‘Satisfy Me’. ‘You Got Nothing On Me’ is the album’s slo-mo moment, and an ideal contender for an MTV video I reckon.
‘Girls Like You’ is another track suffering in the fidelity stakes, a bit of a wobbly entrance coming in, it manages to balance up eventually. ‘Fantasy Girl’ to this album is what ‘The Lonely One’ was to the debut. A fun filled romp, with a southern tinge. ‘Secrets In Her Heart’ is a real undercover lover tune, long trench coat and hat are the order of the day for this one.
‘Slippin’ Away’ is my pick as the album’s best track. Billy Satellite had this knack of wrapping heartfelt vocals around superb arrangements, and this one was no exception. I’m sorry but the background noise on ‘Final Stand’ was just too audible to ignore. The dynamics of this mostly laid back track made it impossible to ignore the hiss on the quieter passages. Someone forgot to use the compressor on this track.
Still, being a huge fan of this band, I’ll just have to blink and ignore what’s going on with this CD and accept it for what it is. I’m not quite sure what materials Chris Lyne (responsible for the remaster), had to work with. It’s not as bad as those RPM and Refugee efforts from MTM Music a decade ago,.
And don’t get me started on those Renaissance reissues, plus the Majestic Rock and Kreshendo releases out of the UK. If there is any justice in this world, AOR Heaven or Frontiers should throw some money at Monty and Danny and get Billy Satellite back in the public eye once again.
You Got Nothing On Me