In 1980 I took a trip to Los Angeles to show several of my songs to a friend of mine, John English. At the time John was working for Val Garay who owned a state of the art studio, Record One in Sherman Oaks, and was at the peak of his career after producing and winning awards from the latest Kim Carnes 'Betty Davis Eyes' albumJohn liked the song Bob Moulds and I wrote Daddy Don't Live In Heaven so much, he suggested we cut it along with several other songs I wrote to see if he could find a record deal for me. The sessions came out great and every major label we went to wanted to sign me on the power of this one song. We settled on Liberty Records, the newly revived label of the past, that was now under the EMI America umbrella.
Liberty was so sure they had a hit and potential star on their hands, they gave us a handsome budget to complete an album. Although six of my original compositions are on this album, the top dogs at the label thought it best for John to take a trip to Nashville to collect the remainder of the material. They wanted the emphasis on dance music instead of lyrical content so we proceeded with what we felt was the most danceable, commercial songs he could find.
Just about the time Liberty released Daddy Kenny Rogers sued Liberty Records and won 13 million dollars in back royalties. We fought with them tooth and nail, but it became clear they just didn't have enough money or resources left to properly promote all the singles they were releasing. Of course they were concentrating on their established artists, but even without adequate promotion, Daddy Don't Live In Heaven advanced onto the charts. Liberty then quickly released a tune John and I wrote Pretending Fool and with no promotion at all, climbed faster and further on the charts than the first single.
Of interest is the fact that when John English was shopping for songs in Nashville, the publisher for Lionel Richie gave the song Oh No to him and told us we could record it because he didn't think Lionel was going to release it. Oh No was scheduled to be my third single. It later went on to be a huge pop hit for Lionel. Such is life!
Despite the warm reception my records received from disc jockeys and fans, Liberty released me from my contract along with almost all the Liberty roster at the time, about 25 total artists – so the album was never issued and started gathering dust in the tape graveyard.
I was never sure what I thought of the Nashville songs, or my vocal approach to this album. I was singing my heart out trying to drive the band along thinking "I'll get to sing these again for real after the band gets their parts", but John and Val thought the first takes were great, so all the vocals are the originals. Now, as I listen to the album after all these years, I like it. As a matter of fact, it sound somewhat '90s line dance. Very high energy!
So boys and girls – put on your dancing shoes!
The musicians backing me up on these songs basically consist of the then Kim Carnes Band. They had absolutely no concept of country music, but they could sure rock the hell out of it. A good rock band playing country music. Sound familiar!
I hope, you enjoy it. We sure had fun making it and I'm glad after all these years it has been digitally revived and found a new home with Bear Family Records. - MICHAEL BALLEW