Hotel’s best record by far. You can definitely place a reservation in your record collection under ‘AOR’ for this particular gem!
Written by: RichardB
ALBUM: Half Moon Silver
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Cadenhead – drums, percussion, vocals * Michael Reid – guitars * Tommy Calton – guitars * Lee Bargeron – keyboards, guitars, vocals * George Creasman – bass, vocals * Marc Phillips – keyboards, guitars, lead vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 A Place In Time (Refugee) * 02 Cold Blooded Red Hot Love * 03 Now That She Loves You * 04 Ned And Mary * 05 Half Moon Silver * 06 Blind Side Of Love * 07 I Can’t Believe * 08 Wanting You Too My Love * 09 How It Feels * 10 Talk To Me
Hotel, I believe, hailed from Birmingham, Alabama a place not known traditionally as a breeding ground for AOR. Their debut album released in 1979 was a veritable mish mash of musical styles ranging from lachrymose ballads (‘You’ll Love Again’), pomp (‘Not Wise To Say’), and calypso flavoured soft rock (‘Your Green Eyes’).
I tried to close my eyes and imagine a tropical scene but living in England it’s extremely difficult. The rest of the public wasn’t buying that either! Whilst there were unquestionably some pleasant well-crafted songs on the debut, the band did seem to be suffering from an identity crisis. If they’d been a patient they’d have been rushed to the nearest psychiatrist.
At this stage in their career they weren’t sure if they should be playing MOR or AOR! However by the time they came to record this their follow-up album, they had been cured of their multiple personality disorder, were moving in a harder direction, and consequently adopting a more cohesive approach.
As a result ‘Half Moon Silver’ is a much more satisfying listening experience because of this. Yes indeed, you can definitely place a reservation in your record collection under ‘AOR’ for this particular gem! Hotel were a band big on atmospherics, together with tightly woven (though never self indulgent) musical arrangements and intelligent lyrics. They were also songwriter’s par excellence, with more hooks on this album than an angling competition!
First track ‘A Place In Time’ (Refugee) opens with an almost lackadaisical guitar/keyboard riff, moves on to an intricate guitar/keyboard interplay on the chorus, and reaches a glorious crescendo with a wailing guitar solo punctuated by stabbing synths on the outro.
Hotel’s ace in the pack was Marc Phillips he performs an effortless vocal delivery throughout, and his style perfectly suits the sumptuous AOR/radio rock peddled by the band. ‘Cold Blooded Red Hot Love’ starts with a moody intro and explodes on the chorus.
Then the stand out cut for me, ‘Now That She Loves You’ with it’s catchy keyboard/guitar riff and unforgettable chorus. A refreshing change from the traditional chest-beating antics of your typical macho love song.
Here Phillips shrewdly states ‘I’m not one to say whether she’s right for you, but you’ve got to give the girl a chance, it’s something you need to do’, before imploring his friend that ‘Now that she loves you, don’t let her down’ I’m sure he’d win female admirers for the lyrical sensitivity on this track alone.
We then have ‘Ned And Mary’, with it’s groovy almost funky bass guitar, where Michael Reid and Tommy Calton both vie for the guitarist’s spotlight in the mid-section. Side one closes with the title track a beautifully simple song with acoustic guitar, which I’m sure Simon and Garfunkel would be proud of.
The flip side doesn’t quite reach the same giddy heights as it’s predecessor however you still have the titanic triumvirate of ‘I Can’t Believe’ – immaculate power ballad, ‘Wanting You Too My Love’ – a superb piece of wimphem, and ‘How It Feels’ – pomp with strident keyboards, cultured guitar, and that all important pumping bassline!
My only complaint, and it’s a small one at that, is that the closer ‘Talk To Me’ is a meandering weak affair thus ensuring the album closes with a whimper, rather than a bang.
I’m afraid I know little about what happened to the band after this album, though presumably they were dropped by the record company, which is a crying shame because I’m sure they had it in them to deliver something really special.
Suffice to say they didn’t achieve the fame and fortune they richly deserved, though I’m sure they could have all made a lucrative living on the session circuit. I would love to see this album remastered and given a re-release on CD. Who knows maybe some enterprising individual(s) will hear my plea. If anyone else can give me more details about this band, please contact the site.
Cold Blooded Red Hot Love
Now That She Loves You