"Easy Pieces" is probably the first and last mid-80s record you'll find posted here. It's here so we can continue the Renée Geyer story, and if you're new here, check out "Ready to Deal" and "Moving Along" at this blog before continuing, amongst others, 'cos they're better albums.
After singer/guitarist Hamish Stuart left the Average White Band, he worked as a sideman / backing vocalist to artists such as Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, for whom he wrote the superb "Whatcha Gonna Do For Me". Also working as a backing vocalist for Chaka Khan's live show was Renée Geyer, who after a revitalised pop career in early 80s Australia was trying her hand in the USA again.
Hamish and Renée joined forces with ex-Average White Band drummer Steve Ferrone and session bassist Anthony Jackson to form the band Easy Pieces, who recorded one self-titled album under contract from A&M Records. Continuing the Chaka connections, Ferrone had played drums on most of Khan's album "I Feel For You".
When I began researching this post, things got sketchy after that, not the least because this lost album is not included in any of the four artist's discographies. From what I can gather, it seems that the album initially had truckloads of money thrown at it by A&M, and took a long, long time to finish. One of the main producers was David 'Hawk' Wolinksi, keyboardist from Rufus and notable as the writer of ... you guessed it ... Chaka Khan's "Aint Nobody" and Rufus/Chicago's "Street Player", and keyboardist on Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough"
By the time they'd finished it, two things happened that confined it to the bargain bins of history. Firstly, A&M was in the process of switching distributors, and gave it zilch promotion - the album doesn't seem to have been released outside of the USA. But the final nail in the coffin was that Hamish Stuart joined Paul McCartney's band, with whom he stayed for six years - so that was the end of Easy Pieces.
Not that this is any lost masterpiece ...
Best track would be the Renée Geyer and Steve Ferrone-penned "Walk That Walk", which wears its Chaka vocal influences on its puffy sleeve, but has Randy Brecker arranging a real brass section, and Renée in fine voice. Renée's only upfront in a few tracks, mainly sitting behind Hamish Stuart's whiteboy soul tenor for most of the album, occasionally sharing a lead.
The production is very much of its time, slamming gated-reverb snares and crisply programmed FM synthesiser brass predominating. While Hawk Wolinkski is reasonably spare in his arrangements, the main culprit seems to be the other main producer, E.T. Thorngren, who was applying the same sound to his 12" remixes of Robert Palmer ("Simply Irresistible") and the Eurythmics ("Would I Lie To You"). Some of it's just plain terrible, with the first few tracks seemingly aimed at the Jefferson Starship end of the market.
I decided to post this because a lot of you have shown love for the Renée Geyer albums I've been posting, and so I thought you might be curious, as I was, about this thoroughly 'disappeared' album. Many thanks to Micko for his vinyl rip and cover scans.
Tomorrow we rush back to the 70s.... :)
01 "Whenever You’re Ready" (Hamish Stuart / St.George)
02 "It’s No Lie" (Hamish Stuart / Clyde Lieberman)
03 "Heart Of The Matter" (Hamish Stuart / Clyde Lieberman)
04 "You’re My Heaven" (Renée Geyer / Hawk Wolinski / Neil Larsen)
05. "Tuggin’ At My Heartstrings" (Hamish Stuart / Amy La Television)
06 "Trust One Another" (Hamish Stuart / John Lind)
07 "Daddy’s Girl" (Hamish Stuart / Renée Geyer / Hawk Wolinski)
08 "Walk That Walk" (Steve Ferrone / Renée Geyer)
09 "Don’t Knock It" (Hamish Stuart / Hawk Wolinski / Clyde Lieberman)
10 "Separate Shores" (Hamish Stuart / Roy Freeland)
EASY PIECES are
Hamish Stuart - Guitars, Vocals
Renee Geyer - Vocals
Steve Ferrone - Drums
Anthony Jackson - Bass
Hawk Wolinski - keyboards, percussion & programming
James Harrah - guitar (6)
Neil Larsen - keyboards
Randy Brecker - horn arrangement (8)
Daid Boruff - saxophones (8)
Gary Grant - trumpet (8)
Produced by E.T Thorngren (E.T.?) and Hawk Wolinski except
Track 1 - Produced by Bill Bottrell & Easy Pieces.
Executive producers - Jimmy Iovine and John McClain (not John McCain)
Produced and engineered by E.T. Thorngren
Remixed by Bill Bottrell
Recorded at Rumbo Recorders, Fool On the Hill and A&M Studios
Mixed at Encore Studios and SmoketreeMore credits on cover scans