Into the Ear of Madness: Week 13, The Dawn of a New Decade

Written by Into the Ear of Madness, Music

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Over the next year Terje Fjelde has agreed to listen to nothing but David Foster on his iPod. He’s loaded the thing with over 1,200 songs produced, arranged, composed, and/or played by David Foster. A deal with the devil? He keeps wondering.

I’m procrastinating. I really don’t want to think about David Foster today, Neither do you, of course, but I’m bound by my promise to write about the guy every week for a year, so I’m kinda stuck here.

The weather’s really beautiful — and that rarely ever occurs in Norwegian summertime. I’m hangin’ out with my friends and family by the mountainside, and all I really want to do is to join them for a beer or maybe play some soccer – but I’m stuck in my room with freakin’ David Foster. Am I sensing fatigue? Well, maybe a little bit, but it’s just a phase. I’ll be back at the top of my game next week, I promise — when the weather has returned to its usual cold, grey self. Autumn is just around the corner.

Anyway, we’ve covered the ’70s pretty well so far, wouldn’t you agree? It’s worth mentioning that Foster’s career got its first big boost in 1979, when he won a Grammy for co-writing Earth, Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Is Gone” with Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin. This award set him up for all kinds of wonderful adventures in sound as the ’80s dawned, but I figure everyone knows the tune, so we’ll just skip it gently.

In 1980, he co-wrote “Love, Look What You’ve Done to Me” with Boz Scaggs for the John Travolta movie Urban Cowboy. It’s actually the only non-country song on the soundtrack, but then again, country was so washed-out in the early ’80s that even Frank Stallone could’ve gotten away with a country record. Foster continued his songwriting collaboration with Scaggs on Scaggs’ Middle Man (1980). It was produced by Bill Schnee, but it’s a very David Foster album, and a pretty great one at that.

Foster produced Average White Band’s Shine (1980), which is a decent enough production, but apart from Hamish Stuart’s characteristic voice it didn’t sound very much like the Average White Band we like to hear, and it didn’t do very well on the charts.

Chaka Khan picked up a song from the album – “Whatcha Gonna Do For Me” – and it’s pretty groovy. Foster also produced a guy called Ray Kennedy, but the record is kinda cheap all over – I don’t think the company put all their bets on the success of Mr. Kennedy that year.

And then he produced Peter Allen’s Bi-Coastal which, for reasons I will never understand, is absolutely irresistible to me. The Australian singer was a successful songwriter for other artists (Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Manchester, Christopher Cross) in the ’70s, but his singer-songwriter/easy-listening solo albums were largely commercial flops. In 1980 he changed pace and went for a big, slick L.A. production under Foster, but it didn’t help much – Allen had a minor hit with “Fly Away,” which was covered over at Bottom Feeders a couple of months ago.

Here’s “When This Love Affair Is Over” from Bi-Coastal (1980). Lovely sound off them Fender Rhodes, innit?

Oh, and I almost forgot: My friend Clay from last week’s entry would like to dedicate the next song to his second-best friend in the world.

Peter Allen – “Simon,” also from Bi-Coastal (1980).