Thursday, June 5, 2008

Easy Pieces - Easy Pieces (1988)

"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)


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 Smoketree
More credits on cover scans


Simon666 said...

... and thanks again to Micko for supplying this.

Simon666 said...

you've all been shocked into silence by the 80s production yes ? :)

alex said...

many thanks simon,getting into this gal all right!

jaguar said...

Looking to thies as I ma a fan of Hamish as well as Renee.


Mr. Wone said...

Here you go again with that Renee Geyer. You know how I feel about it all simon.

Simon666 said...

hey mr wone -
still a few more renee geyers to come, in a week or so :)
Thanks for all your comments

Paul said...

amazing ... thx

trakbuv said...

Pretty certain my LP version is a UK pressing - 'Trust one another' and 'Tuggin at my heartstrings' were popular with the more specialised radio stations at the time. Many thanks to Micko for sharing this & Simon for le blog massiff !!! PS. Currently groovin' to Hamish's 'Once there was love' from 'Sooner Or Later' - mmmmmmmmm

trakbuv said...

Nope, its an import - as you said Micko

Justice said...

Thank you

Mik Caruso said...

Thank you so much !!
I didnt know this record but i love AWB.

micaus said...

Thought you'd like a few more Gayer's, so here they are:

Renee Geyer - Blues Licence 1982


Renee Geyer - Live At The Athenaeum 2004

I sense an Australian connection in this blog, I'd almost forgotten about the Daly Wilson Big Band and all those Gayer's! Great stuff. I thought I was the only one left who remembered Kerrie Biddell.

Trag said...

You should name the blog Never Enough Renee!! She is absolutely one of my favorite singers ever. It's truly a shame she never got her due here in the states. Great job on presenting so much of her work!!!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comments guys, and thanks for the links micaus.
A few more Renee albums coming soon :)

Northing said...

Any chance the American llp will show up here? I wore out more than one copy of that trying to getr friends to buy it it! Thanks for your hard work.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for your comments Northing. Which American LP did you mean ?

danyelle6974 said...

You know all you guys who are obsessing (in a good way!) about Renee may appreciate NZ Hollie Smith! She has some funky soul tracks, gorgeous deep husky vocals and she sounds awesome live. Check out this live recording:

Simon666 said...

reupped, see post

orlando said...

Thanks a lot. Hard to find.