Just mention the name TOMMY FUNDERBURK and any serious collector of Westcoast and even AOR gets something sparkling in their eyes. Along with DAVID FOSTER and JAY GRAYDON he was in AIRPLAY, who released one of the most popular westcoast album of all times in 1980 with super tracks like “Stranded”, “Crying all night” and “Nothin’ you can do about it”.
Well, a few years went by and Funderburk formed band THE FRONT along with BOB WILSON (drums, add’l keyboards), LARRY WILLIAMS (keyboards), DANN HUFF (guitars) and DENNIS BELFIELD (bass). It was a super line-up indeed, with Wilson and Williams known from SEAWIND, Huff a well-known sessionist and member of WHITEHEART and finally famous session player Dennis Belfield.
Stylewise THE FRONT took us to a perfect mix between westcoast and AOR. This means it’s an album that will be appreciated by fans of MR MISTER and MICHAEL SEMBELLO, as well as GLAD, PAUL CLARK and of course AIRPLAY. Some songs are pure westcoast, like the awesome “All Under Him” which sounds a lot like GLAD á la their “Captured In Time” album. Another one along the same alley is “King Of Glory” where the style is almost the same as the “Drawn To The Light” album by PAUl CLARK – which means this is a song for PAGES fans too! Now, since we wrote 1985 when this album was released, the overall sound picture was a bit different to the pure westcoast sound. For example there are synth drums and some synth basses – for better of for worse, I’d say. The synth bass in “Silent Night” makes it sound very 80’s hi-tech, like MICHAEL SEMBELLO’s “Bossa Nova Hotel” era, although less dance oriented. There are also some AIRPLAY vibes if you listen closely, like the nice rhythm guitars in the AOR:ish “Holy Light”.
Looking at the songs, this albums is close to a masterpiece. Same goes for the performance by these amazing vocalists and players. I mean, we’re talking about the elite forces here. Nah, what pulls down the grading is the production. For a 1985 production this album sounds quite lame, and the mix between the early 80’s sound and the mid-80’s hi-tech equipment just sounds… wrong. Imagine what David Foster and Humberto Gatica cound have done with this recording! Well, you can’t get everything. It’s still a great CD/LP.
BONUS INFO: This CD by THE FRONT has become very hard to find. However, my warmest recommendation is that you buy the MEP/Royal Music box that was released in Sweden in 2008. They actually released 4 boxes with 9 CD’s in each of them; the boxes are colored Black, Blue, Yellow and Red. Among others, the black box includes THE FRONT “s/t”, KOINONIA “The best of Koinonia”, CENNETH ALMGREN “s/t” (excellent pop/AOR!) and the cool live CD “Live in Scandinavium” with EDIN/ÅDAHL, PER-ERIK HALLIN, JERUSALEM and more! Each CD box costs only like 30-40 dollars and gives you so much CCM/AOR music at a low price.