Peter Allen

Not the Boy Next Door

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Not the Boy Next Door, Peter Allen's eighth solo album, was supposed to make him a major recording star at last. He had enjoyed his first chart single as a recording artist with "Fly Away" in 1981, the same year that "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," which he co-wrote, topped the charts and won an Academy Award. His move to Arista Records, home of the essentially similar Barry Manilow, seemed to indicate that he would finally have the record company support he needed. It didn't happen. The Peter Allen pictured on the cover of Not the Boy Next Door, spread across a red piano in a half-open shirt and looking confidently into the camera, was the same Peter Allen who rode across the Radio City stage on a camel to sing "I Go to Rio." But the Peter Allen found in the grooves of the record itself was a much more cautious and much less original performer. The nine songs on Not the Boy Next Door seemed to have been carefully fashioned to fit into current radio formats, but perhaps they had been tailored too well. Co-writing with Carole Bayer Sager, as well as such other mainstream pop types as David Foster and Dean Pitchford, Allen crafted songs with echoes of early-'80s dance-pop and pop/rock that never quite worked on their own. Three singles saw some action on the adult contemporary charts, but none of them crossed over to the pop charts. Maybe, if Allen had ever made a studio album with the flavor of his flamboyant live show, or had a hit single for himself with the kind of big ballad other artists found on his albums, he might have had a major recording career. But he never performed those ballads like his heart was really in them, and his studio albums never captured his appeal as a performer. Not the Boy Next Door was his best shot, and after it, he turned to the Broadway stage and his musical Legs Diamond, a logical attempt to find a context for his theatrical flair.

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