Opting for a more straight-ahead rock approach, Duke Jupiter’s overall sound was still infused with Southern bluesy stylings, but delivered in a more crisp AOR manner.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ARTIST: Duke Jupiter
ALBUM: Duke Jupiter 1
LABEL: Coast To Coast
SERIAL: ARZ 37912
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Marshall James Styler – vocals, keyboards * Greg Walker – guitar, vocals * George Barajas – bass, vocals * Rickey Ellis – bass * David Corcoran – drums, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 I’ll Drink To You * 02 Rockin’ In A Hotelroom * 03 The Wrong Ones * 04 Don’t You Look At Me Like * 05 Sugar Blues * 06 Rock N Roll Band * 07 Slow Loud And Dirty * 08 Don’t You Walk That Way * 09 Baby I Do
WEBLINKS: Site Link
After releasing three fairly laid back Southern influenced LP’s between 1978 and 1980, Duke Jupiter were ready for a change of direction. Opting for a more straight-ahead rock approach, Duke Jupiter’s overall sound was still infused with Southern bluesy stylings, but delivered in a more crisp AOR manner, an early hint of the majestic AOR to come between 1982 and 1985.
It was a difficult time in the band emotionally, with long time bass player George Barajas very ill at the time. He passed away in 1982, and the album is quite rightly dedicated to him with love. Rickey Ellis played bass on the tracks George was unable to, and stayed with the band ever since. The title ‘Duke Jupiter 1’ indicates this as the first album of their second chapter, so let’s read on.
‘I’ll Drink To You’ sets the trend with a crisp 4/4 backbeat, a sharp hook, and more importantly the first of many AOR anthem choruses to follow in the next few years. It started here, great song and a Billboard Top 20 hit as well.
‘Rockin’ In A Motel Room follows a similar structure, despite the chorus having a slightly more ‘down home’ feel to it, still highly enjoyable. ‘(You Gotta Love) The Wrong Ones’ is equally infectious and a good example of the Southern influence blending well with 80’s crisp production, and of course the strong 38 Special type melodies add to the value.
At this point it’s ballad time, and what a ballad! ‘Don’t You Look At Me Like That’ could join the ranks of REO Speedwagon, Journey etc as the blueprint for classy AOR power ballads. Sedate verses and power AOR choruses, and that extra brigade in the middle adding more magic. No wonder Meatloaf covered this classic on his 1983 ‘Midnight At The Lost And Found’ album!
‘Sugar Blues’ is also significant, apart from being a fine hook-laden ‘Southern meets AOR’ rocker. Lead guitarist Greg Walker steps up to the vocal mike with probably the best voice in the band. Clear, crisp and pleasing to the ear. Pity he didn’t do it more often. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Band’ segues into smoothly delivered funk-blues territory, followed by the more melodic straight Texas blues of ‘Slow Loud And Dirty’, with a great singalong chorus.
The Harry Vanda and George Young composition ‘Don’t You Walk That Way’ returns us to 4/4 rock territory in considerable style. The melodies are strong, but it’s Walker’s guitar work that steals the show, a taste of what ‘Eliminator’ era ZZ Top would sound like two years later.
The original album closes with the smooth and bluesy ‘Baby I Do’, but we’re not done yet! There are two live bonus tracks: the Texas boogie of ‘I Refuse’, and a scorching rendition of their 1984 hit ‘Little Lady’ worth the admission price alone.
Duke Jupiter are in the process of reissuing all seven of their albums one by one, this being the second (1984’s essential ‘White Knuckle Ride’ was the first). The sound quality is fresh as an arctic breeze, which bodes well for the two albums the AOR world is holding it’s breath for: ‘You Make It Look Easy’ and ‘The Line Of Your Fire’. In the meantime, ‘Duke Jupiter 1’ is well worth adding to any rock collection. You can order it through their website.
Duke Jupiter on Video
I’ll Drink To You
Click to go to YTM album page.
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