Farewell Fairbanks

Randy Edelman

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Farewell Fairbanks Review

by Joe Viglione

The celebrated singer/songwriter's album begins with a cover of Brian Parker and Tommy Moeller's "Concrete & Clay," which hit the Top 30 in the US in May of 1965 for their British sextet Unit 4 + 2, and, strangely, also hit Top 40 for Pennsylvania singer Eddie Rambeau in June of that same year. In 1975 it flirted with the Adult Contemporary charts for Randy Edelman, featuring drums by Nigel Olsson of Elton John's group, with backing vocals from Olsson and his fellow EJ musician Dee Murray, along with Melissa Manchester, Ringo producer Vini Poncia and others. All sorts of famous names are sprinkled throughout this disc, from "Highway Affair"'s guitar work by Andrew Gold to soundtrack king James Newton Howard playing synthesizer on the bouncy "Fresh Outa Love," one of the most memorable tunes on the record. The title track plays like a very pretty love song until you hear the lyrics, an ode to Alaska and the ecological threat of the oil pipeline. It's a strong piece of music which probably got lost because of its benevolent statement. "You," the opening track to side two, is reminiscent of America's "I Need You." It has that elegant pop songsmith magic that made Melissa Manchester, Eric Carmen, Neil Sedaka, and other '70s stars so popular. Barry Manilow's 7th hit, Weekend In New England is here in its original form by its composer. Noteworthy is the relationship between this disc and that of Edelman's wife, Jackie DeShannon's 1975 CBS release, New Arrangement. Both feature the Edelman/DeShannon collaboration, Let The Sailor's Dance, a magnificent chorus, but Jackie's version gets the nod as the definitive take. Edelman plays piano on DeShannon's version, DeShannon sings on Randy's performance. That isn't the only similarity between these two 1975 recordings by this husband and wife. As Manilow cut "A Weekend In New England," it would be six years before "Bette Davis Eyes" from DeShannon's New Arrangement would hit number one around the world for Kim Carnes. Both albums spawned a major hit for other artists. They are good companion pieces and are essential documents of an important time for singer/songwriters. Bill Schnee underproduces Farewell Fairbanks, letting Edelman's craft speak for itself.

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