Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spy - Spy (1980)

Spy were a New England sextet brought together by Don Kirshner in late 1979, likely as heirs to the throne recently vacated by a flagging Kansas. With Kansas exploring new territories to less success than ever before, Spy were assembled in an effort to assure Kirshner's stronghold in the AOR movement that was in full swing during this time. Comprised of seasoned session players and regional talents, the band consisted of vocalist John Visclocky (ex-Mirthrandir), guitarist Dave Nelson (ex-Nektar), violinist Danny Seidenberg, keyboardist Dave LeBolt, bassist Michael Visceglia and drummer Bob Goldman. In 1980, Kirshner Records issued the band's self-titled debut and despite strong material, the band almost immediately imploded. Spy went as quickly as they came, perhaps because audiences weren't interested in a Kansas clone. The members all went on to work with numerous artists like Suzanne Vega, Turtle Island String Quartet and Foreigner, as well as forays into production, session work and film soundtracks.

So were Spy really Kansas clones? Well, yes and no. Bearing the kind of conventional prog style Kansas were known for, the band were more akin to Styx than anyone else. With harmonies and keyboard flourishes inspired by "Pieces of Eight", the band were essentially a second tier tribute to the sounds that other bands had made famous. If one can forgive this creative misstep, the album itself is an impressive batch of songs. The true weak link here is Vislocky, who sounds out of his league in comparison with the wizardry happening on the instrumental end of things. Though their frontman was slightly lacking the chops for the job, the monstrous harmonies dripping from each track were jaw dropping. Though this album could've been more successful had it not been for Kirshners ridiculous hyping of the band at the time of this release, it was soon relegated to the retail cutout bins instead.

In recent years, the album has gained a whole new audience of prog lovers and AOR fanatics who champion the band and album like a priceless forgotten relic. As to whether this kind of fervor is justified, well, you'd best download and decide for yourself. I quite like this effort and am happy to have it in my collection. Thanks to a fabulous rip from Rob, we can all enjoy this gem from 1980!


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'orchman' said...

Never heard (about), seen or knew it was around, but this was a pleasent surprise overall. Need to listen to it a few more times before i can say that this or that track is a standout but as i said, it was not bad at all this album.

Thank you Rob for upping it and thanx Ronnie for sharing !!!

thelegendthatis said...

J, another legendary post... been after this for some time....was going to bid on it the other day and then forgot all about it...only went for $5 too...

looking forward to listening to this at long last...thanks my friend

The Legend

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I agree with Ronnie, they sound a bit more like Styx than to Kansas. The strings do sound like Kansas here and there. Great melodic progressive rock/AOR.

Thanks !