L.A Ray And The Shades. Great name for a band, but there is nothing remotely connecting this lot to California.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST L.A Ray And The Shades
ALBUM Wild Weekend
LABEL Wet Records
CD INFO: Discogs Info
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN USA
LINEUP Roy ‘L.A Ray’ Jones – vocals, guitars, production * Michael S Kovach – guitars * Robin Hildebrandt – bass * Clint DeSpain – keyboards * Howard T. Sharp – drums
TRACK LISTING A1 Do It All Night * A2 City Lights * A3 So Glad * A4 Lady Ice * A5 Why Don’t You * B1 Victim Of Love * B2 Rockin’ In Time * B3 Don’t Want To Be Lonely * B4 It Only Takes A Minute * B5 No Goodbyes
Despite the reference to L.A in their handle, there is nothing remotely connecting this band to California. Their origins start in Chicago and eventually move west to Salt Lake City. Initially, there wasn’t a lot of info about the movements of personnel within this lineup only that Jones and Kovach filtered through from a previous incarnation known as Lois Lane from their Chicago days going back to 1980 of all things.
Having moved to the active rock music hub of Salt Lake City (refer all those bands on the Metallic Blue record label – nearly all of which are from Utah), they changed their name to LA Ray And The Shades, and proceeded to become local legends without cracking the national big time. They only came to our attention during the Internet age.
‘Wild Weekend’ is quite a score for what is an independent release. Loads of OTT guitar playing, tough vocals and swimming in keyboards when the ivories are called upon. You hear this straight away on the opening ‘Do It All Night’ where all these elements collide. ‘City Lights’ with its strutting guitar echoes the sound of early 80’s radio rock, while the first sign of pomp synths become apparent on ‘So Glad’. So too ‘Lady Ice’ which traverses from bands such as Morningstar and Styx
‘Why Don’t You’ is full of more Styx sonic inducements while Jones does his best Dennis DeYoung impersonation. ‘Victim Of Love’ heads down the quirky side of the boulevard like an early 80’s power pop crossover.
‘Rockin’ In Time’ lifts the energy to that of a pure guitar rocker, it’s followed by ‘Don’t Want To Be Lonely’ which could be any number of American independent 80’s hard rock bands. ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ is strong on the harmony vocals sitting over the top of an arrangement which could be MPG or 80’s era Touch. ‘No Goodbyes’ is the ballad offering, for fans of Styx, Aviary and bands of that pomp persuasion.
Upon listening to this, L.A Ray And The Shades are more pomp based than all out radio rock. I’d go so far as to not even label this AOR, due to the fact that’s it’s not really commercial though still very good. The one out and out rocker is the first track. From that point the keyboards and synths take over.
Beyond this album, Jones and Korvach would rename L.A Ray And The Shades to the shortened Traveler, but it appears no musical output came of it. From what I have read, it seems that Jones got into a lot of personal turmoil, with the murder/manslaughter of his wife Tara on March 30th 1992 while living in Omaha Nebraska. His case became an episode of the TV crime show ‘Hard Copy’ which ran from 1989 to 1998. He now lives in L.A and is apparently still involved in the music industry according to his LinkedIn profile.
Do It All Night
Why Don’t You