Gino Vannelli - Nightwalker

DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina
edited January 11 in year-1981

Nightwalker is my pick of the bunch when it comes to Gino Vannelli's masterpieces, the other ones being 'Brother To Brother' and 'Black Cars', all three a world of difference from one another, yet bonded by the undeniable quality.

Gino Vannelli - Nightwalker
ARTIST: Gino Vannelli
ALBUM: Nightwalker
LABEL: Arista
YEAR: 1981

LINEUP: Gino Vannelli - lead and backing vocals * Joe Vannelli - electric & acoustic piano, organ & synthesizer, Chamberlin electro-mechanical keyboard, string arrangements, backing vocals * Mike Miller - electric & acoustic guitar * Neil Stubenhaus - bass * Vinnie Colaiuta - drums * Michael Fisher - congas & percussion * David Boruff - saxophone * Brad Cole - string arrangements * Stephanie Spruill, Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Doug Parry - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Nightwalker * 02 Seek And You Will Find * 03 Put The Weight On My Shoulders * 04 I Believe * 05 Santa Rosa * 06 Living Inside Myself * 07 Stay With Me * 08 Sally (She Says The Sweetest Things)

RATING: Score of 95%


Following the success of 1978's 'Brother To Brother', a platinum selling album in both the USA and his native Canada with the 'I Just Wanna Stop' single topping the Canadian charts and peaking at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, Montreal-born singer Gino Vannelli left A&M Records after the release of the 1980 compilation 'The Best Of Gino Vannelli', and signed with Arista.

Somehow, the success of the Brother album failed to please Vannelli who had become disillusioned with the music business, sort of an early midlife crisis for somebody in his late twenties that led to a twelve-year touring hiatus from 1979 to 1991.

Luckily, Vannelli did not stop recording and 'Nightwalker' is a turning point in his career that, far from only being a transitional album, is one of his best achievements.

The Songs

Equal parts crooner, Prog, Jazz Fusion and Pop; Vannelli's music adds the Rock factor to the equation for 'Nightwalker'. Often times Gino was accused of over singing or adding excessive drama to his performance, but I do believe this to be a unique part of his appeal.

In one of his earliest session works, a young Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa) stands out in one of the best performances I've ever heard from a drummer.

Gino is also known for having worked with great unknown guitarists the likes of Carlos Ríos, who recorded 'Brother To Brother'. Mike Miller is no exception.

The haunting, dramatic title track that tells a tale of sleepless nights into the loneliness of the big city featuring gorgeous Chamberlin (a Mellotron precursor, also precursor of the modern digital sampler) string arrangements, almost made the soundtrack of the 007 film 'The Spy Who Loved Me' under its original title 'Without You By My Side'.

'Seek And You Will Find' rocks with authority including prominent female backing vocals while 'Put The Weight On My Shoulders' is the first ballad, deep and dense. 'I Believe' is a bright pop midtempo that features the saxophone.

'Santa Rosa’ is the most progressive of the songs and relies heavily on Miller's guitar work. 'Living Inside Myself' is the equivalent to 'I Just Wanna Stop’ from' 'Brother To Brother', a magnificent ballad and one of Yacht Rock's best moments ever in my book.

'Stay With Me' is funky and rocking with another fine Miller performance while the last song 'Sally (She Says The Sweetest Things)' is yet another ballad, subdued but beautiful nonetheless.

In Summary

'Nightwalker' reached gold status in Canada while it attained no certification in the US, despite the single 'Living Inside Myself' peaking at #5 on the Billboard chart in June 1981. However, its artistic value is out of discussion.

Driven by the pressures of management and his own brother Joe, Gino attempted to get a bit heavier trying to capture the market that was happening at the time in the early 80's, following the success of people like Rick Springfield.

Hence, he recorded a second album for Arista titled 'Twisted Heart', of which the single 'The Longer You Wait' (with the song 'Bandito' as B-side) was released in 1982. Arista rejected the album, which remains unreleased to date in spite of the fact that it was even assigned a catalogue number.

Apparently, Vannelli even had to buy the master tapes back from Arista's founder Clive Davis to be released from his contract. Gino signed with Polydor for his next album, 1984's 'Black Cars'.

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Living Inside Myself (Official Video)

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    Great album. Thanks for reminding me I need to feature Vannelli.

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina

    The production by Gino with brothers Joe and Ross is top notch here.

    So many other good songs by Gino to be mentioned: People Gotta Move, Appaloosa (not the horse breed, lol), Wild Horses, The Other Man, Persona Non Grata, Mama Coco, these are only a portion of my favorites.

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