Into the Ear of Madness: Week 17 — Everything You Never Knew You’d Ever Know About David Foster’s First Solo Album

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.

In 1982, hot on the heels of his success as a producer and songwriter for Chicago 16, David Foster started recording his first solo album for a Japanese label. Following in the footsteps of his easy listening forefather Burt Bacharach, he recorded instrumental versions of hit songs he had written for other artists. That is, some of them were already hits — and others had lyrics added to them and became hits later on.

“I just rolled a twenty-four track machine and a board into my music room and a bunch of synthesizers. l got up every morning and went into the music room and started recording. It was great and really therapeutic. The guys from the Tubes heard l was doing an album that was one step up from elevator music and they said ‘you’re not producing us again.” David Foster, March 1985

Foster himself has stated that the record is “nothing major,” and most people will indeed identify the self-titled 1986 album on Atlantic as his solo debut. The Best of Me is almost exclusively the sound of Foster’s keyboards, so in a sense the title is appropriate. In addition to an acoustic piano and the Fender Rhodes, there are a lot of antiquated synth sounds which I, for one, find rather charming, but will probably make most of you think of groceries and frozen food.

Although “nothing major,” the songs on this album have been covered by an impressive array of artists. The opener, “Whatever We Imagine,” was recorded by James Ingram in 1982 in a classy Quincy Jones production. The melodramatic piano ballad “Our Romance” was recorded by Olivia Newton-John as “Shaking You,” for the soundtrack to the movie Two of a Kind (1982) starring Newton-John and John Travolta, along with “Night Music,” which was performed as an instrumental on the soundtrack as well. “Night Music” was in fact released a single in Canada, and it received some airplay in late ’83.

The charming synth horn solo vehicle “Chaka” was re-recorded by… well, Chaka Khan, of course, in 1984 as “Through the Fire,” one of her finest mid-tempo songs. Al Jarreau grabbed the bouncy “Mornin'” for his 1983 album Jarreau, produced by Jay Graydon, and it became one of his biggest hits. R&B heartthrob wannabe Glenn Jones was less successful with his version of “Heart Strings” in 1986, retitled “Love Will Show Us How,” even though the aforementioned Burt Bacharach was given a co-credit on the vocal version along with Michael Jay. Who is Glenn Jones, you may ask? Exactly. I don’t know — all I know is that “Love Will Show Us How” pretty much sucks.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Boz Scaggs recorded “Love, Look What You’ve Done to Me” in 1980 for the soundtrack to Urban Cowboy, and it didn’t suck.

All these tracks were performed as instrumentals on The Best of Me. In addition, the album contained two vocal tracks. The title track was co-written by a very young Richard Marx, and it is sung by Foster himself here. It has been covered by dozens of artists later on, including Barry Manilow, Kiri te Kanawa, Kenny Rogers and Cliff Richard.

“Love At Second Sight” is a duet between Foster and Vicki Moss. It was re-recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1985. I don’t know much about Vicki Moss, but she was definitely Wayne Gretzky’s girlfriend for a while. According to imdb, Moss was also briefly married to David Foster, which is amusing, considering that Foster and Gretzky are (were?) good friends. But I don’t know if it’s really true. I’ve never read about the marriage anywhere else. Maybe the truth will reveal itself in Foster’s autobiography?

She has a nice, soft voice, though — as does Foster. Foster also wrote and produced a song for her on the “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985) soundtrack — “If I Turn You Away.”

David Foster & Vicki Moss – “Love At Second Sight”
David Foster – “Night Music”