Johnson, Don - 1986 Heartbeat

edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Johnson, Don
ALBUM: Heartbeat
SERIAL: EK 40366
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: Reissue List..


LINEUP: Don Johnson - lead vocals * Chas Sanford, Dickey Betts, Ron Wood, Dweezil Zappa, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jamie Skylar - guitars * Mark Leonard - bass * Curly Smith - drums * Charles Judge, Bill Champlin - keyboards * Earl Gardener, Lenny Pickett - horns * Lenny Pickett - sax * Mickey Raphael - harmonica * Bill and Tamara Champlin, Michael Des Barres, Bonnie Raitt - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heartbeat * 02 Voice On A Hotline * 03 The Last Sound Love Makes * 04 Lost In Your Eyes * 05 Coco Don't * 06 Heartache Away * 07 Love Roulette * 08 Star Tonight * 09 Gotta Get Away * 10 Can't Take Your Memory


At the height of his fame as Miami Vice's 'Sonny Crockett' in 1986, Don Johnson landed himself a record deal with CBS/Epic, who most likely saw Johnson's celebrity status as a lucrative money spinner.

To ensure the projects credibility, and musical quality, an eclectic mixture of guest artists were enlisted, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ron Wood, Willie Nelson and Michael Des Barres.

This type of talent was supposed to make Don look good, when in reality he was good enough to carry the project with his own voice.

The Songs

While 'Heartbeat' is not AOR the whole way through, there are several tracks which fall under the banner, more than making it worthy of inclusion at GDM.

The title cut is the best known song and was a huge hit back in 1986, reaching no 3 on Billboard if I'm not mistaken.

All the AOR ingredients are included, including an addictive chorus. AOR mainstay Chas Sanford adds a melodic guitar solo, although in the video Dweezil Zappa is shown playing it! Johnson dispels the notion this is a joke record with a gutsy, in-key vocal delivery.

'Voice On A Hotline' follows, using searing atmospherics courtesy of some hot sax work, which took a whole two songs to break out.

This is followed by a good rocker 'The Last Sound Love Makes' that builds into an intense hookline, which super cool Don belts out in gruff fashion. Zappa adds his real solo on this one. A quality song.

However the promise of the first three songs is not kept and the Tom Petty penned 'Lost In Your Eyes' is bland as is the Bob Seger written 'Star Tonight'.

'Coco Don't' is good for a laugh with all it's horns and sax but 'Heartache Away' is victim of a poor chorus, forgettable.

'Love Roulette' is a catchy little number, those horns are killer!

The Chas Sanford written 'Gotta Get Away' is the hardest rocker on the album, solid riffs and some inspirational lyrics make this a classic.

'Can't Take Your Memory' ends the album on a non-descript note, an MOR ballad that Johnson co-wrote.

In Summary

It was inevitable that this album would be ridiculed because of an actor trying to sing. Here in the USA that is exactly what happened.

MTV ridiculed the song 'Heartbeat' once, smashed the video cassette of the video itself, and put it in a blender. Sods.

But for fans of AOR willing to give it a go, it features some worthy material, typical of the era.

Johnson even recorded another album, 1989's 'Let It Roll' which was far inferior and less AOR inclined.

But as a vocalist he proved many wrong and had nothing to be ashamed of. Next time you see 'Heartbeat' for a quarter, twenty cents or 10p, make sure you pick it up.

Editors Note: The album was re-released on CD in 1999 by Razor And Tie.

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