Nightwork - Nightwork

richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset
edited August 2 in year-1986

ARTIST: Nightwork
ALBUM: Nightwork
LABEL: Nightsongs
YEAR: 1986

LINEUP: Ric Swanson - vocals, guitars * Chris Watkins - bass * Tim Saunders - drums, percussion * Jeffrey Doyle - guitars, vocals * Jamie Vallejo - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hit On The Radio * 02 Another Night * 03 Steal Away * 04 Let Me In * 05 Hold On To Paradise * 06 Streetheart * 07 Like I Do


The state of Texas had a burgeoning AOR underground throughout the 1980's, perhaps the most famous artist being multi-instrumentalist Michael Morales (currently undergoing a period of incarceration courtesy of the US government I believe) whose first album spawned several US hit singles. Not as well known, but equally deserving of attention are Nightwork who released their eponymous album in 1986.

Ric Swanson, Chris Watkins, Jamie Vallejo, and Tim Saunders were all ex-members of Winterkat, their fellow guitarist Jonathan Grell being the sole remaining member. He went on to release Winterkat's follow up 'The Struggle' (was Grell's 'Billy No Mates' predicament the inspiration for the title - who knows?)

Nightwork's album has a rather tacky cover which depicts a woman adopting a sultry pose alongside the sign 'Nightwork'. Hmmm, I don't suppose the band numbered ardent feminists amongst their demographic fan base!

The Songs

Fortunately, the band redeem themselves by displaying considerably more subtlety when it comes to delivering the goods musically. This time around Ric Swanson and his cohorts decided to adopt a more overtly commercial stance than the progressive hard rock tendencies of Winterkat.

This is never more obvious than on the racy opener 'Hit On The Radio' and its infectious chorus which sets the tone for the rest of the album. The Nightwork sound consists of big hook-laden choruses, lush keyboards, and twin guitars that riff effectively, though without ever breaking into a proverbial sweat.

If I was trying to find a reference point for their brand of AOR I would say their approach bears comparison to the long lamented Preview. In fact, Ric Swanson's vocal stylings do come across as similar to those of Jon Fiore (who coincidentally gets a name check on the sleeve).

Whilst it's true there is nothing startlingly original about Nightwork's approach to AOR, it is all done effortlessly with considerable panache. Indeed you get the impression that these guys could perform this style of music in their sleep.

There is also a nagging familiarity about the songs which remain buried in your consciousness long after they've been heard. If I was thinking of the album's highlights I would name the moody 'Another Night', 'Let Me In', which is full of light and shade, and the immediacy of 'Hold On To Paradise' where keyboards and guitar are in near-perfect juxtaposition.

In Summary

Whilst no longer playing melodic rock, Ric Swanson and the various members of Nightwork are still musically active and Ric Swanson in particular is performing with the excellent roots-rock outfit Our Religion.

As a footnote, I understand from Ric Swanson that there is a possibility that the Nightwork album could see the light of day on CD at some point in the near future. You therefore might want to re-consider parting with your hard-earned cash to pay the ludicrously high prices charged by some Collectors for this album.

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    Finally, Nightwork gets to see a digital release at long last, through Steelheart Records Lost US Jewels Collectors Series. Vol 9. This new disc contains 5 bonus tracks.

    01. Hit On The Radio
    02. Another Night
    03. Steal Away
    04. Let Me In
    05. Hold On To Paradise
    06. Stealing Your Heart
    07. Like I Do

    Bonus Track:
    08. Givin’ Up
    09. See A Liar
    10. Pulse Of Life
    11. Brand New Dream (Live)
    12. High Times Tonight (Live)
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