Believe it or not, but it’s been 18 years since westcoast legend BILL LABOUNTY’s previous release “The Right Direction”. Well, instead of complaining about all the inactivity of old heroes, I’ll be happy for the comebacks we’ve seen lately; the magnificent JaR album (Jay Graydon & Randy Goodrum), ROBBIE DUPREE’s “Time And Tide” album and BILL CHAMPLIN’s “No Place Left To Fall”.
So, add “back To Your Star” to the list of long awaited comeback albums. BILL LABOUNTY was in the band FAT CHANCE already in the early 70’s, while his solo recordings began with “Promised Love” in 1975. To westcoast fans his self-titled 1982 album is probably the most appreciated one, with hits like “Livin it up”, “Look Who’s Lonely Now” and “Dream On”. But I’d say “The Right Direction” is my favourite LABOUNTY album, with “Mr. O”, “Good Life” and “Time Start Now” being some of the top shots – added by one of the best productions I know.
Anyway, on to this new CD. One thing you can count on when BILL LABOUNTY’s releasing an album is this: you get REAL instruments and that good old 70’s/early 80’s westcoast sound. Bill’s even taken a step further back in time, I’d say, since the Rhodes domination makes it sound more 70’s than on “The Right Direction”. He’s got good musicians involved, still not that many well-known or expected names. LARRY CARLTON, ROBBIE DUPREE and possibly even SAM LEVINE are the ones I really recognize. Otherwise DANNY PARKS, STEVE WARINER (the country guy?), MICHAEL RHODES, TOMMY WELLS and BRIAN FULLEN are playing on the album.
As always, this is TRUE westcoast coming out of the speakers. The sound is fresh, the chords are those typical awesome, smooth ones with lots of maj7 (hm, not sure what they’re called in English but they’re the ones written with triangles on sheets). Soundwise LABOUNTY is pretty close to later albums with STEELY DAN. Stylewise it’s more pure westcoast though, so you’d have to think PAUL DAVIS or even a bit like MARC JORDAN’s “Hole In The Wall”. Actually, the title track “Back To Your Star” is one of few songs with (partly) higher tempo and a lovely chorus, a bit similar to the mentioned Marc Jordan album. However, without the AOR hints of course. The nice groove in “Stay High” will have you thinking of a late night in Los Angeles, wandering the streets in a good mood. ”The Wheels Are Coming Off” even brings some EAGLES vibes, so there is some variation in styles here. I say “some”variation, because I would have wanted more of that. Like I said, at least two happy, uptempo songs are missing – and that reminds me of the only negative thing about LABOUNTY: there is too much melancholy, too much low tempo, and even not enough variations in the arrangements.
Still, BILL LABOUNTY’s always really good. He’s made better albums before, but this one’s certainly solid. All westcoast fans must buy it. And it’s so nice with CD’s where everything is done with real instruments, bringing a fantastic sound – a sound with LIFE in it.