Face to Face


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Confrontation was the follow-up to the somewhat successful debut by the original Face to Face, and it is unfortunate that it is so faceless. Arthur Baker and Ed Stasium do succeed in turning this rock band into a disco act, Laurie Sargent's beautiful voice becoming a part of the machinery, and that is the great disappointment here. "Shake the World" is difficult to differentiate from "Walk Into the Fire" -- everything is channeled through Baker's incessant dance rhythms. Where "10-9-8" and "Under the Gun" from the first album jumped off that record and made some noise on the Billboard charts, the music on the Confrontation album is trying to be something it's not. The songs are pretty good -- Sargent's co-write, "A Boy Like You," could almost work on a Go-Go's level (or album) if everything wasn't washed in the detergent of the disco mix. The material is good, with none of the greatness of the previous outing, while the production is homogenized and pedestrian. What a shame. Face to Face was signed when Dick Wingate saw the band open for Rick Berlin at the Paradise club in Boston -- Wingate showed up to see Berlin's current version of his band but fell for the first group on the bill. To Wingate's credit, he took Face to Face to Mercury when he left Epic, but A&R men are supposed to do a lot more. They are supposed to find a hit song if the band can't write one, and are there to ensure the production doesn't strip the band of its soul. Wingate failed on those two key points on Confrontation, and so does this album. It works better than the 1986 debut by New Man, but not by much. Both New Man and Confrontation are pretty unmemorable. A waste of Sargent's great rock & roll voice. "Tell Me Why" and "Walk Into the Fire" might have better luck if put in a rock setting, but the original energy of this group got lost in the mechanics of the music biz. Not the first time this happened to talented artists, and it certainly won't be the last.

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