Player’ is nothing but an AOR exercise, perhaps unpolished on occasion, but a recipe for the three equally classic albums yet to come.
Written by: Dangerzone
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Peter Beckett – vocals, guitars * J.C. Crowley – guitars, keyboards * Ronn Moss – bass * John Friesen – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Come On Out * 02 Baby Come Back * 03 Goodbye (That’s All I Ever Heard) * 04 Melanie * 05 Every Which Way * 06 This Time I’m In It For Love * 07 Love Is Where You Find It * 08 Movin’ Up * 09 Cancellation * 10 Trying To Write A Hit Song
WEBLINKS: Site Link
One of AOR’s quintessential acts, Player’s debut seems to have flown under the radar over the duration of time, the album overshadowed by ‘Baby Come Back’s number one success that masked an accomplished effort. The general consensus that this is rather lightweight melodic pop is somewhat misguided, it’s not as fluffy as some have claimed (including myself) and is more a statement of where AOR was during the late 70’s, still trying to find a definitive identity, that Player would soon perfect themselves.
The story of the bands origins has been told often elsewhere, in a nutshell British native Beckett met Texan Crowley, they collaborated, bought in Moss and Friesen, signed to RSO and achieved instant chart success. Beckett had been part of the much ridiculed Skyband, and much of the material here is co written by Steve Kipner who had been part of that band with Beckett.
There’s nothing inherently soft about Crowley’s ‘Come On Out’, a forceful rocker and an instant introduction to Player’s much admired harmony sections, the band not afraid to add a tough riff or two. ‘Baby Come Back’ still retains much charm even after ten million appearances on soft rock radio, one of the standard bearers of 70’s AOR history.
‘Goodbye’ (That’s All I Ever Heard)’ comes off as a less exotic Pablo Cruise, but with exotic arrangements mixed in, dense keyboard use and apparently sitars! ‘Melanie’ is a jaunty ode to love, with bouncy rythms and a helping of acoustic guitar work and was another sizable hit.
A sweeping keyboard intro gives ‘Every Which Way’ instant pedigree, followed by a pleasant chorus which proves how tailored for radio Player were. The AOR highpoint is ‘This Time I’m In It For Love’, check out that opening melodic guitar lick if in doubt to where these guys were at, and how much better they would get.
Disco elements pervade ‘Love Is Where You Find It’, after all this was RSO, but every band was pursuing that melding of styles during that disco period, but this sounds more natural than Kiss for example who tried the same thing.
‘Movin’ Up’ moves effortlessly with astounding melody within the verses, exceeding the actual hookline, followed by the sheer hard rock of ‘Cancellation’, showing there was more to Player than ‘Baby Come Back’. Ballad ‘Trying To Write A Hit Song’ belongs on Rod Stewart‘s ‘Atlantic Crossing’ to my ears, the same blend of powerful vocals and acoustic guitars that made Stewart’s album so great.
Some bands have it – and some don’t right from the onset. Player definitely had ‘it’. The lineup changes that plagued them for the rest of their career never altered their unique sound, which was unveiled here so comprehensively.
Crowley left soon after to chase a country music dream, leaving Player to join luminaries like Ambrosia as masters of their chosen form of AOR, always listenable and melodic, without sacrificing credibility on any level. ‘Player’ is nothing but an AOR exercise, perhaps unpolished on occasion, but a recipe for the three equally classic albums yet to come.
Player on Video
Baby Come Back
Entire Album (Select Tracks)