Player/Danger Zone

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"Baby Come Back" is one of those classic one-hit wonders of the '70s, the kind of breezy song that easily found its way to number one, and remained in the public consciousness for years later. It's the kind of song most listeners know when they hear it, yet they're not sure who it is -- and, if they do know who it is, chances are, that's all they know. Few people realize that 1977's Player and 1978's Danger Zone, the two albums on this two-fer, reached the Top 40 and went gold. Player followed through on the promise of "Baby Come Back," particularly on "This Time I'm in It for Love," but also with its abundant offering of mellow keyboards, layered harmonies, and spacious production. This was laid-back but engaging, and the band displayed some serious musical chops, occasionally sounding like a sweet, streamlined Steely Dan. Some of the same characteristics were evident on their next record, Danger Zone, but as that title illustrates, this was a tougher affair. From the beginning, heavy guitars are pushed to the forefront and this is no mistake -- Player is playing harder this time around, adding a little bit of metal and a little bit of prog to their basic sound. This isn't entirely a bad thing -- and it's close to what Ambrosia was doing around the same time -- but it doesn't have the ease of the first album. Also, the songs aren't quite as consistent this time around, with some sounding a little unfocused because of the group's new ambitions. Still, it's not a bad record, highlighted by the singles "Prisoner of Your Love" and "Silver Lining." In a sense, it's the flip side of the debut -- where that record captured the sun-kissed sound of Californian pop, this illustrates what progressive FM-oriented pop/rock usually sounded like.

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