Exile - Don'T Leave Me This Way

Exile – Don’t Leave Me This Way

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We do have a few Exile album reviews on GDM, but I think we’ve overlooked the best of the lot with this 1980 classic. If you’re a fan of soft rock/AOR bands like Hotel or Player, then look no further than these Kentucky legends.

Written by: gdmonline

ALBUM: Don’t Leave Me This Way
LABEL: Warner Bros
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: J.P. Pennington, Les Taylor – guitars, vocals * Buzz Cornelison, Mark Gray, Marlon Hargis – keyboards, vocals * Sonny Lemaire – bass, vocals * Dwight D. Dunlap – percussion * Steve Goetzman – drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 You’re Good For Me * 02 Nobody’s Hero * 03 Don’t Leave Me This Way * 04 Take Me Down * 05 Smooth Sailin’ (Rock In The Road) * 06 Jailbait * 07 There’s A Love Out There * 08 The Closer You Get * 09 It Takes Love To Make Love * 10 Let’s Do It All Over Again

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We do have a few Exile album reviews on GDM, but I think we’ve overlooked the best of the lot with this 1980 classic. If you’re a fan of soft rock/AOR bands like Hotel or Player, then look no further than these Kentucky legends.

Of course, Exile were best remembered for their worldwide smash hit ‘Kiss You All Over’, from their 1978 LP ‘Mixed Emotions’. The New Zealand distribution of the album came through on the British pop label RAK run by mogul Mickie Most. And for many years I thought Exile was a British band due to that connection not realizing that they were ‘red white and blue’ American.

The Songs

Exile kick it off with the sensational ‘You’re Good For Me’ which is like a magical hybrid of Player and Roger Voudouris. This track reminded me a lot of Roger’s 1979 hit ‘Get Used To It’. ‘Nobody’s Hero’ continues the catchy AOR with lovely persistent keyboards, a hooky chorus laden with a stacked vocal chorus.

The title track ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ starts out with a poignant piano but builds nicely toward the chorus. ‘Take Me Down’ was released as the first single, though listening to this I think I would have preferred either of the first two tracks instead. ‘Smooth Sailin’ (Rock In The Road)’ is the first ballad, the piano and background synths are prominent on this track, so too the multi-part harmony vocals.

‘Jailbait’ moves in a slightly different musical direction, maybe a comparison to Greg Guidry though the tempo is more upbeat than the tracks on Greg’s 1982 ‘Over The Line’ album. ‘There’s A Love Out There’ is a groovy west coast track with a Rhodes keyboard backdrop. They certainly don’t make songs like this anymore.

‘The Closer You Get’ is the original version of the track which became a hit in 1981 for Rita Coolidge from her ‘Heartbreak Radio album’. The track was written by J.P Pennington. ‘It Takes Love To Make Love’ features more tip-tappy keyboards, the album completed by the mild pumping rock of ‘Let’s Do It All Over Again’ which was the second single cut from the album. Overall, a near perfect set of American AOR and radio rock for 1980.

In Summary

As mentioned, ‘Take Me Down’ and ‘Let’s Do It All Over Again’ we’re the two singles, with ‘It Takes Love To Make Love’ and ‘You’re Good For Me’ being the B-sides. Unfortunately neither made a dent in the charts. As successful as Exile were, I get the impression they never quite cemented a spot in the pop, hard rock and country rock genres during this time frame. They played across all of them with certain audiences not quite connecting because of the genre divide.

The album itself was picked up for reissue up by MCA and Curb in later years, the latter label reissuing it in 1990 with the inexplicable retitle of ‘Keeping It Country’. Really? Country? Pfft. Talk about a brain fade. By 1983 Exile had signed with Epic Records and released a slew of melodic country rock albums right up to 1991. Now that I have gotten this album off my ‘to-do’ list, it’s time to investigate the other Exile albums either side of the 1980 timeline. Watch this space.


You’re Good For Me

Exile - You're Good For Me (1980)

Nobody’s Hero

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A true classic for sure. Exile were churning out some AOR magic before they went pure country. Alabama did the best covers of ‘The Closer You Get’ and ‘Take Me Down.’