Stephenson, Van - 1986 Suspicious Heart

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986

image

ARTIST: Stephenson, Van
ALBUM: Suspicious Heart
LABEL: MCA
SERIAL: MCA-5608
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1996, High Vaultage, HV-1004

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Van Stephenson - vocals * Mike Baird - drums * Dennis Belfield - bass * Dann Huff - guitars * Alan Pasqua - keyboards, synthesizers * Michael Fisher - percussion * Richard Landis - percussion, keyboards, producer * George Doering, Mike Landau, Waddy Wachtel, Stan Lasiter, Greg Jennings - guitars * Craig Krampf, Mark Hammond - drums * Michael Rhodes - bassRichard Gibbs, Reed Nielsen, Dave Innis - keyboards, synthesizers * Tom Kelly, Tommy Funderburk - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 We're Doing Alright * 02 (We Should Be) Together Tonight * 03 Suspicious Heart * 04 Never Enough Night * 05 Confidentially Yours * 06 Desperate Hours * 07 Dancing With Danger * 08 Fist Full Of Heat * 09 Make It Glamourous * 10 No Secrets

Background

No mention of Van Stephenson on a site like GDM would be like bread without butter. The man is synonymous with the melodic rock/AOR genre, and as such, has acquired a cult status for someone who only released a handful of albums.

A smooth voice, with the music being equally smooth, like a refined version of Rick Springfield or Glen Burtnick. Having a few of the session greats onboard makes Van's job easier.

There are sparse appearances from the likes of Mike Landau, Craig Krampf and Waddy Wachtel, but mainly it's the Giant pairing of Huff and Pasqua, and Rick Springfield drummer Mike Baird.

The Songs

Stephenson's previous efforts are the next to impossible to track down 'China Girl' on the Handshake label (1981), and his debut MCA release from 1984, the impressive 'Righteous Anger'.

Onto this album 'Suspicious Heart', and it is clear that the record takes two distinctive paths: Side One is laid back, Side Two rocks!

The opening duo of 'We're Doing Alright' and '(We Should Be) Together Tonight' lay the smooth foundation, like cream rising to the top.

The melodrama of 'Suspicious Heart' is about as AOR as you can get, while 'Never Enough Night' and 'Confidentially Yours' are full to the brim of candy coated melodies and catchy choruses.

'Dancing With Danger' is primo AOR, full of the trademark pre-requisites that the genre requires. 'Fist Full Of Heat' is without doubt the heaviest track, and is a wonderful example of how Stephenson's smooth voice when combined with Huff's cranky guitar can work up some AOR magic.

The last two tracks: 'No Secrets' and 'Make It Glamorous' also made it onto movie soundtracks, namely 'Secret Admirer' and 'The Wild Life' respectively. Both are uptempo melodic rock gems.

In Summary

As most of us know, during the early 90's Stephenson hooked up with The Outlaws singer Henry Paul and Dave Robbins to form the band Blackhawk, who were a successful new country act based out of Nashville.

Stephenson unfortunately succumbed to cancer and passed away in April 2001. A sad loss to not only the US music industry, but more importantly, the melodic rock and AOR genres.


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