John Batdorf

Side One

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In the liner notes to his five-song extended play Side One CD John Batdorf explains that this is the "solo" debut he's been attempting since 1969. Of course in 1981 he was signed to 20th Century Records and released a 45 rpm cover of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," but the label that also featured Genya Ravan and Harriet Schock folded before a full album from this artist could be released. Twenty-four years later this compact and elegant package features the singer's distinctive voice interpreting music he composed with Michael McLean, an artist who has close to two dozen releases on his own and who is a frequent collaborator with Batdorf. The opening track, "I Found You," is delightful sunshine pop with an uplifting vocal over a descending guitar line and sparkling radio-friendly production. "All for You (Song from an Unknown Soldier)" is back to the coffeehouse folk circuit with introspective thoughts making for a nice musical bridge between the opening and "Only Seventeen," a progressive rock/ballad that Janis Ian could make controversial, and which would be an interesting follow-up to her 1975 hit "At Seventeen" if performed from her perspective. It's about a father having a crush on his son's beer drinking teenage girlfriend. The interesting thing about this short (just under 21 minutes) CD, truly one side of a vinyl LP, is that the music rides different waves, from pop to folk to borderline Genesis complexities as in "One of the Lucky Ones," actually a perfect opportunity for Phil Collins with its positive message told through extravagant production. "See Us Shine" returns the music full circle to familiar John Batdorf material, although the progressive flavors still infiltrate the folk/pop, but in an acceptable fashion that makes for good listening. There's always a temptation to pack a compact disc with as much music as possible, and though the 1981 single, "Be My Baby" would've been a nice hidden bonus track, the five songs here have a greater impact because they work so well in this handy and easy to absorb package.

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