The debut Hotel album is something of a mixed bag, but if you’ve already got this one in your collection as well as ‘Half Moon Silver’ it’s worthy of a second appraisal.
Written by: RichardB
SERIAL: MCF 3036
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Tommy Calton – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals * Michael Reid – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals * Michael Cadenhead – drums, percussion, vocals * Marc Philips – grand piano, keyboards, lead vocals * George Creasman – bass, vocals * Lee Bargeron – keyboards, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ * 02 You’ll Love Again * 03 Right On Time * 04 One Time Too Many * 05 Old Silver * 06 Not Wise To Say * 07 Losing My Mind * 08 City Lights * 09 Hold On To The Night * 10 Your Green Eyes
After various personnel changes marked their early formative years, Hotel solidified their lineup in 1976 which is detailed above and this is the one which recorded both of their albums for MCA.. Hotel was a popular favourite on the southeastern USA Rock-n-Roll club scene and played in all the best and largest clubs, as well as fronting concerts for many national acts who toured through the area in the mid-to-late ’70’s.
Highly accomplished musicians they were not afraid to show off their musical prowess by covering difficult-to-play songs note-for-note. After an extensive spate of touring regionally and a brief flirtation with Mercury (who released a single ‘You’ll Love Again’) the band eventually inked a deal with MCA Records who released their debut in 1979.
From where I’m standing Hotel is a band along with Ambrosia and Player that perhaps typifies where AOR was at in the late 70’s. This was a time when AOR was vying for mainstream appeal in the US charts (along with disco and new wave) as well as traditional rock purists.
I threw the pen at their follow up the excellent sophomore release ‘Half Moon Silver’ a few years ago and was unfairly dismissive of their debut, time to rectify this injustice methinks. Although not as hard rocking as ‘Half Moon Silver’, the debut produced by former Capitol A&R man Dain Eric is a classy extremely melodic well produced affair proffering some tasty aural delicacies for fans of late 70’s AOR/radio rock.
The layered guitars on ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ are complimented with atmospheric keyboards and despite the laid back opening it evolves into a wonderful soaring chorus which is classic AOR. ‘You’ll Love Again’ is a ballad with lush multi-part harmonies and orchestral arrangements but packs a guitar punch on the chorus, so is therefore not a complete wimp out.
‘Right On Time’ lifts the mood and incorporates plenty of fluid lead guitar and keyboard work which is very much indicative of the late 70’s time frame it was recorded in. ‘One Time Too Many’ has the merest hint of a Steely Dan vibe, no surprise considering Hotel covered their numbers in their live shows.
‘Old Silver’ winds down proceedings and is essentially a vehicle to display Marc Phillips vocals and talents on the grand piano. Side two opens with ‘Not Wise To Say’ which is a big sounding piece with grandiose keyboards, forceful guitar and a truly bombastic arrangement. ‘Losing My Mind’ is a more laid back acoustic driven affair heavy on the atmospherics punctuated by some short bursts of electric guitar from Messrs Calton and Reid.
The guitars are cranked up for the hard rocking ‘City Lights’ which is another highpoint of the album. Unfortunately ‘Hold On To The Night’ both lyrically and musically is too saccharine for my tastes. Pleasant although unremarkable it would not be out of place on the soundtrack for a cheesy Hollywood romance. Even I’m not that much of a romanticist!
However even a hardened cynic such as myself has been won over by ‘Your Green Eyes’ because of it’s upbeat vibe and memorable chorus – the instrumental break is an intriguing blend of AOR and calypso which despite my earlier misgivings somehow works (listen to it and you’ll know what I mean).
Something of a mixed bag then, but one factor is consistent throughout, the quality of musicianship and Marc Phillips vocals, he’s equally adept at handling the harder rocking material as well as the ballads. If you’ve already got this one in your collection as well as ‘Half Moon Silver’ it’s worthy of a second appraisal.
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’