this second SPYS album ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ from 1983 is just as superb as the 1982 debut and deserves a special mention in itself.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Behind Enemy Lines
LABEL: EMI America
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: John Blanco – vocals * John Di Gaudio – guitars * Al Greenwood – keyboards * Ed Gagliardi – bass * Billy Milne – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Rescue Me * 02 Midnight Fantasy * 03 Behind Enemy Lines * 04 Sheep Don’t Talk Back * 05 Reaction * 06 Heartache * 07 Race Against Time * 08 Younger Days * 09 Can’t Stop Us Now
SPYS, are one of the best AOR bands to come out of New York (include Balance and Aviator). To me, they are the epitome of glory days AOR, and are a true ambassador of this website.
Following on then in the great tradition of Foreigner, were their former keyboardist and bassist Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi. Together with the other members, SPYS the band was formed, EMI America the label was decided, and Neil Kernon the producer, was gifted a wonderful opportunity with the debut SPYS album.
Admittedly a great album in itself but for me, this second SPYS album ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ from 1983 is just as superb and deserves a special mention, if not to even up all the attention given to the debut.
The opening tracks are as arresting slices of immaculate AOR that you’re ever likely to hear. I mean ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Midnight Fantasy’ rank right up there. Some quirky songs abound with the title track ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ resplendent with the Russian style vocal backing and the lyrically hilarious ‘Sheep Don’t Talk’. Greenwood’s vocoders really get a workout here!
The excellent ‘Reaction’ reminds me of primetime Asia circa the debut and ‘Alpha’ albums. Di Gaudio’s guitarwork knocks seriously on Steve Howe‘s door without asking for an invitation. More hi-tech AOR appears with ‘Heartache’ whilst ‘Race Against Time’ continues in the same vein and is also the closest song to the material contained on the debut.
‘Younger Days’ has that epic feel similar to a more commercial Starcastle while the album closer ‘Can’t Stop Us Now’ means just that, it ripsnorts it way with classic pompy keyboards and medium heavy guitar interplay. A great way to round out a solid album.
Though both the debut and this one have long since disappeared off the planet as slices of vinyl, the ‘2 on 1’ CD re-release from Renaissance Records released in 1996 should be a compulsory addition to your collection. In 2012, both SPYS albums were reissued by Rock Candy Records. Awesome!
Again, another example of how a label can take hold of a band like SPYS and do absolutely nothing with it. Funny how that happens to be EMI America, again! Do they still exist? (ha ha). Also, refer our June 2002 interview with John Blanco, elsewhere on the GDM site.