Jungklas, Rob - 1986 Closer To The Flame

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Jungklas, Rob
ALBUM: Closer To The Flame
LABEL: EMI/Manhattan
SERIAL: ST-53017
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: Rob Jungklas - vocals, rhythm guitar * Jack Holder - guitar, production * Ralph Schuckett - organ * Tony Thomas - synth * David Cochran - bass * Chad Cromwell - drums * Memphis Things, The - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Boys Town * 02 Back To 17 * 03 Not Like The Other Boys * 04 Make It Mean Something * 05 When You Hold Me * 06 Big Bouffant * 07 Hello Heaven * 08 See That Girl * 09 Dizzy Blonde * 10 Memphis Thing


Back in the mid 80's, Rob Jungklas' major label LP 'Close To The Flame' was on everyone's 'to sell' or 'to trade' list. I saw it often back in those trading days, but never got around to acquiring it until nearly 20 years later. Jungklas, the son of a military man travelled around often as a kid, but it wasn't until the family settled down in the Memphis area of Tennessee, that his musical aspirations took off. Not really a genuine AORster, Jungklas has been described as an artsy-blues rocker. It was just back in the day, Jungklas was trying everything to land a deal. He had begun his journey as far back as the early 70's, paying his dues in clubs, coffee houses and bars for the best part of 15 years before landing his first major deal with EMI/Manhattan, for the late 1986 release 'Close To The Flame'. I say late 1986; it was in fact December 31st 1986! Who in their right mind would release an LP on a new years eve? So, if you see this album listed as either 1986 or 1987 you'll know why.

The Songs

Produced by Memphis alumni Jack Holder (ex Cobra and John Kilzer) and Will Wittman, 'Close To The Flame' is designed for the big radio and MTV market, though the music on the LP is not totally representative of Jungklas' true style. I would describe it as 'hard AOR', but it also has an earthy element to it too. 'Boystown' is a big sounding song, with a video being cut for it and designed in the same vein as Wang Chung's 'Everybody Have Fun Tonight' video. You know the one. For me, I got dizzy just watching the 'Boystown' video! 'Back To 17' is angst-like with that vibe squeezing through on the song. 'Not Like The Other Boys' is a stop/start tune, with hard acoustic guitar prominent, it's followed by 'Make It Mean Something' which flows much better. It has a nice commercial John Cougar Mellancamp direction mixed with a bit of The Hooters in there too. It's acoustic ballad time on 'When You Hold Me', piano additives makes this tune appropriate for radio I feel. 'Big Bouffant' is as big and hairy as Giorgio Tsoukalos' hairstyle (the bloke on the 'Ancient Aliens' tv doco series), perhaps inspired by Aussie op rocker Yahoo Serious' hairstyle? Who knows. 'Hello Heaven' drops into slow-mode, with a very melodic backdrop punctuated by some late night saxophone for effect. 'See That Girl' reverts to that 'hard AOR' style I mentioned earlier, 'Dizzy Blonde' is a fun-time rocker with some great lyrics and an organic sound, the album completed by the all-in gospel/blues workout 'Memphis Thing', a funky blast topped by ad-lib gang-chants, and a brass section.

In Summary

As mentioned, Jungklas' album was an often traded item back in the day, a bargain bin LP that was easy to find. The album didn't shift that many units, EMI/Manhattan dropped Rob from their roster. However RCA stepped up to the plate for 1989's 'Work Songs For A New Moon', although this album would be the last of Jungklas' major label releases, before he slipped out of the music industry completely, to become a school teacher and to raise a family. In the new millenium, Rob returned to the music scene with a couple of low-key albums; 'Arkadelphia' (2003), 'Gully' (2007) and 'Mapping The Wreckage' (2010). Check out his website to catch up with what he's been up to of late.

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