Russ Ballard’s debut is clearly an album from an artist set free, trying a variety of things he couldn’t do in a band setting and planting the seeds for a long running career.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Russ Ballard
ALBUM: Russ Ballard
SERIAL: KE 33252
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Russ Ballard – vocals, drums, piano, bass, guitar, harmonica, clavinet * Nick Newell, Chris Mercer, Mick Eaves, Steve Gregory – saxophone
TRACK LISTING: 01 She’s A Hurricane * 02 Loose Woman * 03 I Don’t Believe In Miracles * 04 You Can Do Voodoo * 05 You Can Count On Me * 06 Fly Away * 07 Danger Zone Part 1 * 08 Danger Zone Part 2 * 09 Kicks * 10 Venus (Shine Your Light)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
We’ve covered Russ Ballard here at Glory Daze already and since his song writing credits fill volumes and most of us can shout out our favourite Russ Ballard tune without blinking an eye. We’ll skip another rundown of career highlights although I must say it’s his work with Argent that leaves the biggest impression with me.
Those first two Argent albums, the self-titled debut and 1971’s ‘Ring of Hands’ stand as some of the best British rock of the era. While the evergreen single ‘Hold Your Head Up’ from the mediocre 1972 album ‘All Together Now’ gave the band a much needed boost commercially, their future work suffered from overwrought prog and low grade pop.
By the time the schizophrenic ‘Nexus’ hit the shelves, Russ Ballard was well on his way to a solo career that has had several highs and a let’s be honest – a few lows as well with this debut falling in the latter category.
Sax solos aside, Russ Ballard plays everything here as well as tackling co-production chores. It’s not that this is a terrible record and there are a couple strong cuts to be found including ‘I Don’t Believe In Miracles’ which was famously covered by Colin Blunstone, some say for the better.
Hard to compete with a voice like Blunstone’s and Ballard’s version taken on its own is nothing to be ashamed of reminding me a lot of John Howard and his ‘Kid In A Big World’ album. ‘Fly Away’ is the other highlight, a fine slice of period pop with hints of Pilot and early Jigsaw circa ‘Broken Hearted’.
Nicely done, unfortunately the remaining album tracks just doesn’t live up to these two songs, although ‘Loose Women’ sounds like The Guess Who and is passable while the closing ballad ‘Venus (Shine Your Light)’ has some fun Elton John moves. Yet, ‘You Can Do Voodoo’, the two part ‘Danger Zone’ and ‘Kicks’ are comparable to the worst we heard in mid-period Argent.
Russ Ballard’s debut album was from an artist set free, trying a variety of things he couldn’t do in a band setting and planting the seeds for a long running career. I can’t recommend it to fans of his later AOR oriented work, but as an early glimpse into the world one of the finest rock song writers of our time, it’s worth a listen.
I Don’t Believe In Miracles