Into the Ear of Madness: Week 4

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.

Today’s entry is dedicated to the first record ever produced by David Foster — a milestone! Rude Awakening by Bruce Miller was released in 1975. Apart from that, I really don’t know very much about it, so this will probably be a short entry.

I’ll compensate by including a fair share of mp3s, though.

This is a country-rock album with a few poppy moments, and certainly not what you would expect from a David Foster production. But hey, he worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cate Brothers and Johnny Cash in 1975, too, so he had half a foot in that genre as well. It’s produced by Foster and Gaye Delorme, a Canadian guitar virtuoso. He plays guitar on all tracks, and Foster provides all keyboards (mainly Fender Rhodes, acoustic piano and some really nice Clavinet parts).

The record is a rarity. A Google search provides about 50 hits, of which maybe 10 are relevant — and 3 of those links to stuff written by yours truly. It has never been released on CD, which is a bit puzzling to me, considering it’s Foster’s debut as a producer. You can usually find a Japanese reissue for just about every recording involving David Foster and/or his buddy Jay Graydon in the 1970s. Not so in this case.

I wish I could tell you something about Bruce Miller, but after releasing this one album he seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. I think he’s Canadian. My vinyl LP was released on A&M Canada, and some of the recording sessions were done in Edmonton. One web page claims that he went on to become a successful country songwriter in Nashville, but I suspect they may have mixed him up with a different Bruce Miller. (There are a lot of Bruce Millers on the web, even the guy who wrote the Frasier theme. Maybe that’s him? Nah.)

Jim Keltner (Foster’s bandmate in George Harrison’s Dark Horse Band) plays drums on this record, Lee Sklar plays the bass and Airto Moreira provides percussion. A great lineup, but I’m not crazy about Bruce Miller’s voice.

The title track is alright, though — some not-too-shabby guitar playing from Delorme combined with Foster’s wonderfully crisp Clavinet riffs.

“Summer of Our Love” is an obvious James Taylor ripoff. Tom Scott’s saxophone solo reminds me of David Sanborn’s solo on Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” recorded in February of the same year.

“Way Up On the Mountain” has a Crosby, Stills & Nash vibe, I think. There’s a lot of space for Foster and his keyboards — he adds some impressionistic-like runs, alternating between his piano and Rhodes.

And listen to Tom Scott doing a clarinet solo on “Roly Poly”! Accomplished to be sure, but not very smooth, Tom.

“Sweet Dreams Tonight” has some nice guitar work by Delorme again, with Foster and record producer / engineer Keith Olsen providing background vocals. Foster played on several of Olsen’s productions in the mid-1970s, and Olsen returned the favor by engineering Foster’s, at least until Humberto Gatica came along in the late 1970s. Foster and Gatica have continued working together throughout the past 30 years, collaborating on most of Foster’s well-known projects such as Chicago, the Tubes and Celine Dion.

So, that’s Bruce Miller for you. Better than Celine Dion, but still no Ringo Starr. Next week we’ll probably move on to 1976.