Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feagal Sharkey Feargal Sharkey 1985, Wish 1988

Feargal Sharkey is an interesting guy. As lead singer of the Undertones for five years, Sharkey led one of the most agitated bands in all of punk. And they could get on your nerves. Mostly in a good way, but not always. They were a punk band through, and they weren't as pop as many other punk bands.

So, in 1985, when Sharkey released this solo debut, produced by chart hit-maker, Eurythmics Dave Stewart, it was hard to believe it was the same guy who had screamed his way into our hearts. The unusually high and clear voice is the same, but here it is leading a full-blown 80s Big Rock Record. Stewart not only produces, but plays guitar and co-writes several songs. Micheal Kamen (a big soundtrack guy, and ex of New York Rock Ensemble) arranged the strings, and there is a strong crew of studio experts and guests on hand. It's well played.

The songs are up and down. Highlights include A Good Heart, a jittery 80s synth hit that was a UK #1, You Little Thief, a Benmont Tench-penned stomper, Ashes To Diamonds, a U2-styled rocker with a huge stadium vocal, Made To Measure and Don't Leave It To Nature. The rest of the material is either lesser songs or just too much 80s bombast, like Someone To Somebody, which sounds way too much like a future Celine Dion song.

The good songs are quite good. There's not quite enough of them for a whole album, but that doesn't mean you should never hear it. Serious Undertones fans must have been flabbergasted.

An even more remarkable and seemingly crazy pairing was the 1988 follow-up, Wish. Produced by Southern California's own Danny Kortchmar, and staffed by members of Toto, along with Waddy Wachtel and Steve Jordan, it delivers the punk king to LA to make a Jackson Browne/Warren Zevon/Toto hybrid that works a lot better than it should. It's still got that 80s sheen to it, but not as much as Stewart's debut production job. There's almost an organic sound to it. Almost.

Side One, with Cold, Cold Streets, More Love, Full Confession, Please Don't Believe In Me, and Out Of My System is a perfect album side. Side Two has at least three more good ones. Find a used copy of either one, but especially Wish. Kortchmar does a great production job, and almost all the material is excellent. Sharkey's high voice is remarkable. You don't hear many singers like him.

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