Caroline International [Release date 24.05.19]
Formed in London, UK in 1970, this Anglo American group originally consisted of Deway Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley, who met as of US Air Force personnel stationed in London, where they began performing live. Originally performing close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk rock, the band released a strong of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop/soft rock stations.
This set kicks off with 1979’s Silent Letter, the first without Peek. Produced by George Martin and newly signed to Capitol, it’s a sleek affair with a strong folk rock of their roots feel. Some tracks rock out a little, a nod to the forthcoming decade (think a more rocking Hall & Oates), while tracks like 1960 are more acoustic and whimsical.
1980’s Alibi was another classic America album but sales disappointed in the US. No major singles (although some tracks did well in Europe). A solid guitar solo or two, and plenty of vocal harmonies and acoustic strumming. Pop/rock with AOR, folk, country and electric singer/songwriter hints. Guests on the album include Steve Lukather.
The following year’s View From The Ground was a modest success and the opening track You Can Do Magic a top 10 hit. It was written by Russ Ballard, who guests on the album, as does Steve Lukather and Pocaros various. It’s classic soft rock, the continued vocal harmonies with strong guitar ensure success.
Missing out The Last Unicorn OST, 1983’s Your Move is next, and by comparison is pretty directionless. With a greater input from Russ Ballard (musically and in song writing), many tracks just drift even by soft rock standards. Something Bart Simpson would have described as “Wuss Rock”. Nothing wrong with the music at all, there’s plenty of quality, it just doesn’t do anything or go anywhere.
1984’s Perspective was a distinctive change of direction; gone was the soft rock, this album is unashameably synth laden 80s pop/rock.
The band’s sixth and last album for Capitol, rounding up this box, is 1985’s In Concert, the band’s second official live album. The album failed to chart. While it is a good representation of the band on stage and it collects the era nicely, the band had lost their edge and needed to regroup. And find a new label.
While this is far from the band’s 70s heyday, there are some good songs and solid moments, and what is good is the packaging. What musts be saluted is that this era is completed in one box, in order, with the individual albums, a booklet, a nice box. That’s where Caroline do so well because often catalogues are not cohesively reissued. Here, they are, and at a sensible price. ***
Review by Joe Geesin
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