Face to Face

One Big Day

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As A&R man Dick Wingate moved from Epic/Columbia to Mercury, so too did the band he discovered while scouting Rick Kinscherf's Berlin Airlift. This is a total turnaround, 180 degrees from the dance music that vaulted them into the rock discos with their first album and the phenomenal underground hit "10-9-8." Sure, "A Place Called Home" has its dance drumbeats, but this is a rock band leaning more toward the acoustic rock which would emerge in the '90s, and which lead singer Laurie Sargent would embrace. But here's the problem with major labels: The album is so impressive it should have guaranteed this Face to Face another three or four opportunities to stretch out and find themselves a national audience. With immaculate production from Anton Fier, the band has more of a groove than they ever had on Confrontation and their first effort for Epic, Face to Face. Third time's a charm, and this is one of the most fantastic-sounding unknown records you will ever find -- many people don't even know it exists and there's probably a good reason for that. Nothing on here is catchy enough to be a hit single. "Change in the Wind" is indicative of the fine music that flows from beginning to end, with very little dynamics. Everything moves with a sameness -- well crafted, well executed, but no surprises, no highs, no lows. "Never Had a Reason," written by Stu Kimball, Sargent, and Angelo, is seductive and calculated. Where a famous band like Bread would put a couple of masterpieces that hit on a decent album like Guitar Man, or a cult band like the U.K. group Sutherland Brothers & Quiver will put a very respectable album together featuring underground classics which keep the chat rooms buzzing about essential music, this Boston band, Face to Face, delivered a professional collection of ten tunes which went nowhere. What they needed to do was put a cover or two to on One Big Day to get them out of their formula -- Didi Stewart's "Matter of Time" or Jon Butcher's "Life Takes a Life" or Willie Alexander's "You Looked So Pretty When" could have easily fit on this album and perhaps catapulted it into the charts. The band was familiar with those figures who were performing in the same environment with them -- the '80s Boston scene, and an extraordinary song was the key ingredient missing from this listenable and very slick project. Of all these originals, "I Believe in You" had the best shot.

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