KING OF HEARTS – ‘1989’ (2011)

KING OF HEARTS - '1989' (2011)

Fans of the AOR / Westcoast scene are in for a treat with the reissue of this long time Out Of Print classic: King Of Hearts’ “1989”.
King Of Hearts was formed by multi-platinum selling guitarist, songwriter, producer and long-time Richard Marx collaborator Bruce Gaitsch back in 1988.
While working on Marx’s classic ‘Repeat Offender’ album, Gaitsch was approached by manager Alan Kovac to form a band with a view to supporting Country rockers Poco on their upcoming tour, and the promise of a recording contract with a major label.
Gaitsch had already been writing material with session vocalist extraordinaire Tommy Funderburk (Airplay, Boston, The Front) for a solo album, so he was swiftly recruited.

Kovac knew that drummer/vocalist Kelly Keagy was available as Night Ranger had just split up, then hired bassist George Hawkins Jr., who has worked with the likes of Kenny Loggins, John Fogerty, and various Fleetwood Mac members solo ventures.
With the band set, recording commenced under the guidance of producer David Cole, but personal problems between the band and management caused Alan Kovac to quit, and as the recording label signed the band based on his involvement, the album was never released, which is a real shame as the this is a real gem.

Also with the penchant for ‘supergroups’ of top-drawer musicians at the time (Mr. Big, Damn Yankees, Bad English, etc.), King Of Hearts could have cleaned up.
A second album recorded as a Gaitsch/Funderburk duo but under the King Of Hearts moniker appeared in various versions in 1996, and ‘1989’ was released exclusively in Japan in 1999, but was exceedingly difficult to get hold of – until now.

Due to Gaitsch’s heavy involvement with Richard Marx, it’s fair to say that some of the tracks within lean heavily in style towards his output at the time, especially the bright and breezy ‘In So Many Words’, the Keagy sung ‘Smack Dab (In The Middle Of Love)’, and the punchy ‘Under The Gun’, with vocals from Hawkins.
There are also plenty of glorious melodic rockers in the vein of the likes of Giant and Mitch Malloy, such as ‘Remember When’, the acoustic-led ‘Hold On To Love’, and opening track ‘Working Man’, with backing vocals from both Eagles bassists (and Poco members) Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmidt, while ‘Everyday’ shows a harder edge with a funk-tinged riff, and a gruffer vocal style from Kelly Keagy.
And as for the ballads, ‘Don’t Call My Name’ is a beautiful slow-burner with soaring vocal harmonies, and could be one of the best ballads you hear this year.
‘Lovin’ Arms’ is a soulful acoustic based number, and the closing ‘King Of Hearts’ is a meandering westcoast bluesy number, and a tribute to Roy Orbison.

As you would expect from musicians of this caliber the performances are excellent, Gaitsch’s guitar work soulful and exhilarating, but Tommy Funderburk is the real star here, with some soaring, angelical vocal work.
Production is top-notch, brilliant and crystal clear.
There isn’t a filler in sight here, this album is a prime example of great songwriting and amazing musiciansship, in addtion to the great talents in the band, “1989” includes songs co-written by Amy Sky and Chris Farren and it also features Jeffrey ‘CJ’ Vanston (Richard Marx, Steve Lukather, Peter Cetera), Bill Champlin (Chicago) and the two (former) Eagles members Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit.
Absolute class from start to finish.
A Must Have.

1) Working Man (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
2) In So Many Words (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
3) Don’t Call My Name (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
4) Smack Dab [In The Middle Of Love] (Lead vocals : Kelly Keagy)
5) Remember When (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
6) Hold On To Love (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
7) Under The Gun (Lead vocals : George Hawkins Jr.)
8) Lovin’ Arms (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
9) Was It Good For You (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)
10) Everyday (Lead vocals : Kelly Keagy)
11) King Of Hearts (Lead vocals : Tommy Funderburk)

Tommy Funderburk – Vocals
Bruce Gaitsch – Guitars
George Hawkins Jr. – Bass, Vocals
Kelly Keagy – Drums, Vocals
CJ Vanston – Wurlitzer, Synths
Bill Champlin – Hammond B3
Timothy B. Schmit & Randy Meisner – Backing Vocals


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1 Response

  1. SnoWMann says:

    It's A Great Post LUV THIS BAND /

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