This is a Japan-only compilation CD from New York AORsters Fandango, featuring Joe Lynn Turner.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ALBUM: Best Of Fandango (Japan)
LABEL: BMG Japan
CD INFO: Discogs Info
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Joe Lynn Turner – vocals * Rick Blakemore – guitars * Larry Dawson – keyboards * Bob Danyls – bass * Abe Speller – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Blame It On The Night * 02 Rock & Roll You * 03 Hypnotized * 04 I Would Never Leave * 05 Little Cherie * 06 Thief In The Night * 07 Feel The Pain * 08 Last Kiss * 09 Stranger * 10 One Night Stand * 11 Don’t Waste My Time * 12 Headliner * 13 Getaway * 14 Dancer * 15 Ain’t No Way * 16 Fortune Teller
This is Fandango, the New York AOR band that Richie Blackmore tore apart so he could have the vocal talents of one Joe Lynn Turner all to himself. Before this came to pass, Fandango managed four albums on the RCA label between 1977 and 1980.
On this Japan-only compilation CD there are no tracks from 1977’s eponymous debut, two tracks from 1978’s ‘Last Kiss’, six tracks from 1979’s ‘One Night Stand’ and eight tracks from 1980’s ‘Cadillac’ – that’s almost the whole album. While the tracklisting follows no specific chronological order, we’ll take them album by album:
From ‘Last Kiss’ (1978) : ‘Feel The Pain’ begins in pomp territory with a spacey keyboard expose akin to Angel era Gregg Giuffria, and develops into a hook of Morningstar proportions. A flowing anthem chorus of the Kansas variety ties it all together, with a repeating ‘how long’ outro refrain and twinkling keys very reminiscent of ‘Point Of Know Return’.
‘Last Kiss’ is rather different, bringing on the semi-acoustic mid-tempo AOR like classic Firefall or debut era Stonebolt. Great Sunday afternoon AOR with good coffee.
From ‘One Night Stand’ (1979): ‘Thief In The Night’ begins in muddy early 70’s Deep Purple territory but quickly recovers into a midtempo melodic feast, with great hooks and a smooth chorus to remind you of ‘Last Safe Place’ era Le Roux.
‘Little Cherie’ has all the latent midtempo power and elegance of debut era Dakota, finding all the right chord changes underneath yet another flowing chorus.
‘I Would Never Leave’ swings into elegant Pablo Cruise/Doobie Brothers (McDonald era) territory for a ballad of true class, building in power all the while until a dreamy soundscape of intertwining keys and echoing chorus end a classic track in style. High gooseflesh factor.
‘Dancer’ exists in the West Coast zone again like the poppy side of Pablo Cruise, Player or even Leo Sayer – pretty lightweight but passable if you’re in the right mood.
‘Ain’t No Way’ is another smooth midtempo AOR gem in that early Stonebolt style.
‘One Night Stand’ returns us to uptempo territory with hooks and melodies that will have you reaching for your favourite Foreigner albums.
From ‘Cadillac’ (1980): ‘Blame It On The Night’ glides in on a magic carpet of keys and hooks, evolving into AOR of the momentous variety, not unlike some of the leading AOR acts out there. The post-chorus bridge is great, with staccato piano bits like Toto or Harlequin. As our Editor pointed out in his review of ‘Cadillac’ (click the tag below), ‘Hypnotized’ is definitely in Blue Oyster Cult territory, at times sounding like an affectionate rewrite of ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’.. a great song.
‘Don’t Waste My Time’ blasts off with an insistent beat (that poor snare drum), quickly revealing it’s melodic intentions with a chorus from ‘Up’ era LeRoux – tight vocal harmonies with strategic descending chord changes underneath, always a winning AOR combination.
‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ lays down a train like groove at midtempo, with a snare drum the size of Belgium. Once again George is right on the money, ‘Headliner’ is a deadringer for Shooting Star circa 1980 – Turner even sounds somewhat like Gary West on this one, and the melodic flourishes are pretty special, another classic AOR track.
‘Getaway’ starts off with a hook much like Doobie Brothers ‘Last Train Running’, developing into a low key groove with the bass right up front.
The remaining two tracks perhaps reveal, more than any before them, what an effect Turner would have on Rainbow during the following three years … while ‘Rock ‘N Roll You’ is a furious rocker while ‘Fortune Teller’ is a stately midtempo AOR feast, both are a vocal tour de force for Joe Lynn Turner.
He really gets to stretch out and reveal not only the clear power of his voice, but also a rare gift for melodic inflection and phrasing, in much the same way that Steve Perry, Lou Gramm (among others) have their own melodic rhythm at the mic, allowing them to make the best use of a killer hook – the hallmark of a truly great AOR singer.
I can honestly say that this disc, although somewhat expensive (Japan import – say no more), is worth every cent. While I would have liked to hear something from the debut album, the omission of those tracks made room for eight tracks from ‘Cadillac’, arguably their strongest vinyl (finyl .?).
There are still a few copies of this treasured disc available at www.missingpiece.net (thanks Martin), I would suggest a websurfing trip over there, before they’re all gone. Note also, that during 2006, Wounded Bird Records now has all of the four studio albums available as re-released CD’s. Great stuff.