Keene, Tommy - 1986 Songs From The Film

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Keene, Tommy
ALBUM: Songs From The Film
LABEL: Geffen
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1998, Geffen, GEFD-25225 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Tommy Keene - vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion * Billy Connelly - guitars, backing vocals * Ted Nicely - bass * Doug Tull - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Places That Are Gone * 02 In Our Lives * 03 Listen To Me * 04 Paper Words And Lies * 05 Gold Town * 06 Kill Your Sons * 07 Call On Me * 08 As Life Goes By * 09 My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe * 10 Underworld * 11 Astronomy * 12 The Story Ends


One of the unsung heroes of the mid 80's power-pop movement was the extremely talented but criminally under-represented Tommy Keene.

Originally from the state of Maryland, this guy has attained the same level of local hero worship as GDM favourites Face Dancer, though in slightly different musical circles.

The plaudits run deep for this artist, with bouquets coming the way from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine and Village Voice, and even from GDM, because it is reputed that Tommy's biggest musical influence were The Raspberries - who are big faves here at this website.

Keene's first recording foray onto the scene was the 1982 album 'Strange Alliance' (indie label Avenue Records). However, things really took off in 1984 with the release of a six-track EP called 'Places That Are Gone', long since considered a slab of power-pop genius.

It certainly got the big labels interested, Geffen jumping into the mix to secure Keene for his first big-label release.. the strangely titled 'Music From The Film', which would hit the market in 1986.

The Songs

I think it would be fair to say that many fans acquired through those first two indie releases may have been left wondering what happened to the music on the new album.

It's overly slick, well produced (some would say too much), and obviously has a big budget behind it. The intimacy of some of that earlier material may have been surpassed by the melodic power-pop/AOR on offer with 'Music From The Film'.

For this listener, being a fan of both genres, the songs on this platter sit very easily with me.

Whether it's the jingle jangle melodic pop of 'In Our Lives' to the high-stepping bass laden and near AOR of 'Paper Words And Lies', it all goes down like a golden lager on a hot summers afternoon.

For a bit of contrast, the unusual 'My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe' offers a lyrical point of difference, but The Hooters styled arrangement continues the melody drenched formula.

'Underworld' also offers up something different, the mood is more restrained with haunting melodies revolving around great lyrics and a tinkly piano line.

In Summary

Overall there is some lovely melodic pop/rock here, probably less in the power-pop stakes, but there is enough here for PP fans to sink their teeth into.

On the back of this album, Keene moved out to Los Angeles, the band also releasing the EP 'Run Now' during 1986.

However it was not to be a fruitful expedition, as the band broke up after the release of the EP, with Keene moving onward to spend some time in Memphis.

For more on Tommy's career before and after this album, refer to his website (URL above).

Certainly, 'Music From The Film' is well worth the exploration for both power pop and AOR fans!

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