Dixon House - Masked Madness

EricEric USA
edited July 12 in year-1981

ARTIST: Dixon House
ALBUM: Masked Madness
YEAR: 1981

LINEUP: Dixon House - lead and backing vocals, grand piano, organ, fender rhodes, moog * Howard Leese - guitars, prophet 5 synthesizer, orchestra bells, string synthesizer, backing vocals * Tom Erak - bass * Jeff Kathan, Duris Maxwell - drums * Phil Kenzie, Grant Reeves - sax * Mike Flicker - percussion * Ian Matthews - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Just One Kiss * 02 Wait For The Night * 03 Green Light * 04 Our Late * 05 Too Late Belinda * 06 Masked Madness * 07 If You Wanna Go The Distance (Beat Them To The Punch) * 08 Layanna * 09 Automatic Pilot * 10 All Too Clear


Most of us will agree the Dixon House Band's 1979 album 'Fighting Alone' is a certified AOR classic, but I wonder how many have heard Mr. House's solo follow-up released two years later?

Indeed, signed to a bigger and more stable label had to be a major bonus after dealing with the hopeless fiasco that was Infinity Records. 'Masked Madness' was released in both Canada and America although it appears luck was never on the man's side and A&M did nothing with the album.

In hindsight, it's no wonder House never recorded again which is a shame considering the amount of good music produced on just two LP's.

The Songs

No, this is not 'Fighting Alone' since it would be a pointless exercise to recreate such a masterpiece, but it's a good pop record with a couple of dips and doodles, but overall a fun listen.

'Masked Madness' was produced by Mike Flicker with a big guest appearance from Heart guitarist Howard Leese who contributes significantly to the record, including co-writing two of the albums ten cuts.

The first of these is 'Just One Kiss' which gives the album a slow start but it's a nice song similar to Alessi while 'Wait For The Night' is a pure AOR rocker that will surely send followers of Dixon's first album in a tizzy.

Not so great is the reggae-influenced 'Green Light' and the truly dreadful 'If You Wanna Go the Distance (Beat them to the Punch)'. Shame these were even recorded. 'Our Love' is a passable ballad although much better is 'Too Late Belinda' which again dips in the AOR waters with comparisons to early Survivor.

It's this style that House was born to run with and side two is filled with good stuff including the title track which bears the mark of Christopher Cross and another House/ Leese penned track 'Layanna' that sounds very much like Toto circa 'Hydra'.

'Automatic Pilot' and the new wavey Police-ish closer 'All Too Clear' pushes the album into the better than average category and classic status if it weren't for those out-of-place reggae sounds.

In Summary

How he spent his time after this album is an unknown although I've read Dixon House is now a classical playwright which is about as far removed from the music business as you can get.

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    I was listening to this and Eric was spot on with his assessment. Those reggae influenced tracks are truly horrific. It seemed like everyone was taking a stab at that bollocks back then. It has to be said that 'Automatic Pilot' is a genuine AOR classic however, exactly what you expect from the era.
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