Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison

Love & Conversation

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That old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it" should have special meaning for Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison in regard to their Love and Conversation album. Their own superb production work garnered them a number one hit with the previous album's title track, Falling in Love, and singer Dan Hamilton wrote 80 percent of the songs there, including everything on the first side -- which is one of the finest examples of adult contemporary pop in rock history -- three of the five songs gaining airplay on adult contemporary radio in the mid-'70s. On Love and Conversation, the arranger forPat Boone, Air Supply, Donny & Marie Osmond, Petula Clark, and others, John D'Andrea, is brought in to produce. With David Foster engineer Humberto Gatica, he does a decent job, and a stellar cast of musicians, including Doobie Brother Jeff Baxter and session man Lee Ritenour, would make one think they could equal or surpass the previous effort. Instead they have an expensive album that is pleasant enough, but fails to match the majesty of their chart-topper and the hits that accompanied it. The group, which began sounding like a cross between the Grass Roots and Three Dog Night when they recorded for ABC, sounds like they've merged Motown with Gamble & Huff not only on the opening track, Van McCoy's "You Sold Me a One Way Ticket to Love" -- which has the flavors from his hit "The Hustle" -- albeit in a more subdued form, but on the Dan Hamilton/Jimmy George title track as well, borrowing heavily from Gamble & Huff. The opening song on side two, Homer Banks/Carl Hampton's "Now That I've Got You" is more sophisticated middle-of-the-road disco -- and is as refined as Zulema Cusseaux's "I Was There," keeping pace but offering no surprises. Gladys Knight songwriter Jim Weatherly's "Old Habits" respects and resembles the wonderful adult contemporary pop which made the first side of their Falling in Love album such a delight, but the decent 45 rpm from these sessions, Ben Findon and G.Wiken's "Light Up The World With Sunshine," is missing in action. The yellow picture cover to the 45 rpm featured Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds with Tommy Reynold's name finally crossed out, replaced by Dennison. That move may have been a day late and a dollar short. Van McCoy or even original producer Steve Barri may have been better choices to collaborate with Dan Hamilton on this all too important opportunity to further establish themselves in the Barry Manilow/Helen Reddy sweepstakes that was 1970s pop radio. Alan Dennison's instrumental "Houdini" is a minor-league cop of "The Hustle," and the band's only co-write, "Get on the Bus," is just frivolous. This is a pseudo disco record, featuring the trio in open white shirts and their emblem not only hanging on their respective chests, but available on a T-shirt for $4.95 if you returned the promo insert included with the album. This was not the kind of band which could sell merchandise, and inevitably it all feels a bit contrived. An adequate follow-up was disappointing indeed, for Hamilton, Joe Frank & Dennison had the potential to do much more magical pop music and should have stayed on course.

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