SNEAKER – Sneaker ’81 [BlueSpec-CD Cool Sound Japan remastered +4]

SNEAKER - Sneaker '81 [BlueSpec-CD Cool Sound Japan remastered +4] full

The L.A. based band Sneaker took their name from Steely Dan’s tune ‘Bad Sneaker’, no wonder then their music was influenced by Donald Fagen and Co., but also many other acts of that time, at places similar to Frankie & The Knockouts or Ambrosia, just to name a few.
Signed by the little label Handshake, their self-titled debut is a lovely amalgam of classy WestCoast and AOR, considered as a ‘cult classic’ by many lovers of the genre.
As requested, here’s SNEAKER‘s first studio album 1981’s ”Sneaker”, finely remastered by Japanese label Cool Sound, pressed on high quality BluSpec-CD and including 4 previously unreleased tracks as bonus.

The quality of the material Sneaker had, attracted famous Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter to produce the album and contribute with some guitar playing.
Surprisingly, the band scored a Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hit single with the song “More Than Just the Two Of Us”, a sweet FM Westcoast ballad rich in harmonies and ethereal keyboards sounds. They also had a minor hit with “Don’t Let Me In”, a song written by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker from Steely Dan. This wonderful melody has a Steely Dan trademark indeed, but to me sound-wise is very close to the best Ambrosia (David Pack’s band). Fabulous track full of magic.

But here’s much more on offer. “One By One” has a catchy wimpy pace with great typically L.A. scene arrangements. The beautifully arranged “Jaynes” was composed and dedicated for David Foster’s sister. By the way, David also plays on this recording.
I love the vocal harmonies on “In Time”. Call me nuts, but this track sounds like Alan Parsons Project circa ‘The Turn Of a Friendly Card (1980)’, specially the guitar playing and amp sound. In fact, if you are a fan (as me) of superb six string orchestrator Ian Bairnson, you’ll adore the finesse guitar work on this recording.
The Alan Parsons comparison isn’t out of place at all, as Sneaker sounds many times as Ambrosia (produced by Parsons), like on uptempo AOR “Get Up, Get Out” and “Millionaire”.

“No More Lonely Days” is a gorgeous stylized WestCoast number with a shuffle backbeat drum pattern that reminds me the great Jeff Porcaro of TOTO, while the ballad “Looking For Someone Like You” has a stupendous Michael McDonald-like groove.

This Japanese reissue (great remastering) features 4 bonus tracks, interesting to appreciate the evolution of Sneaker prior to the album’s recording. Includes the demo versions of their hit “More Than Just the Two of Us” (more stripped back), and “Don’t Let Me In”.
While the other bonuses, “Easy With Your Love” is a rockin’, very ’70-ish version of the Greg Nelson’s penned song, and “Lazy Lady” was a demo recorded by the band in 1977.
As said, this is a delicious, WestCoast / AOR cult classic classic album from the early ’80s.
Highly Recommended


Cool Sound ~ COOL-140

01 – Don’t Let Me In
02 – More Than Just The Two Of Us
03 – One By One
04 – Jaynes
05 – In Time
06 – Get Up, Get Out
07 – Looking For Someone Like You
08 – Millionaire
09 – No More Lonely Days
10 – More Than Just The Two Of Us [Demo] (Bonus)
11 – Don’t Let Me In [Demo] (Bonus)
12 – Easy With Your Love [Demo] (Bonus)
13 – Lazy Lady [Demo] (Bonus)

Mitch Crane: Guitars, Lead & Background Vocals
Michael C. Schneider: Lead & Background Vocals, Keyboards
Tim Torrance: Guitars
Mike Hughes: Drums, Background Vocals
Michael Cottage: Bass, Background Vocals
Jim King: Keyboards, Synthesizers, Vibes
Additional Musicians:
Guitars: Jeffrey Baxter
Drums: Ed Greeen
Bass: John Raymond
Clavinet: David Foster
Percussion: Bobby Lakind, Pauliho Da Costa
Sax: David Wood
String & Horn Arrangement: Jimmie Haskell
Background Vocals: Sherie Mathews, Paulette Brown, Cleopatra Kennedy
Produced by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter


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