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TRACK LIST: 1. Fooling Myself 2:59 2. Run for Your Life 4:11 3. Broken Hearted Me 3:43 4. Truly From Within 3:23 5. Dynamite 4:21 6. Sooner Than Later 3:23 7. Rock & Roll Soldiers 3:41 8. Gone Too Long 5:48 9. Living Is Loving You 3:08 10. Restless Wind 4:15 Bonus tracks: 11. Living in a Hard World 3:46 12. Woman's in Love 5:28 13. A Part of the Game 4:41 All tracks: by Gould or Gould / Runner, except 7: Merrill. Produced & engineered: by J. Guthrie. LINE-UP: Steve Gould - vocals; guitars (ex-Rare Bird) Alan Merrill - vocals; guitars; keyboards (ex-The Arrow) Mick Feat - vocals; basses (ex-Van Morrison) Dave Dowle - drums (ex-Whitesnake)
Prolusion. The only eponymous album by the Anglo-American supergroup (see lineup above) RUNNER was released in 1978 on Island Records and made the US Billboard Top 200 Albums chart for several months. It was never released on CD until now, though this is a factory-made CD-R actually.
Synopsis. Unfortunately, nothing positive can be said of this recording, at least from a progressive standpoint. There are no instrumental pieces among the thirteen tracks, and most of the songs are vocal-heavy, to put it mildly, and represent a routine average statistical AOR with monotonous, repeatedly repeated couplets and refrains. About a half of AOR numbers contain a brief instrumental section with a plain guitar solo, and the others are free of any experimentation, if it is only possible to say so in this very case. Only passages of electric piano and solos of Hammond, together with vocals on several tracks, are somehow progressive in their nature. On Broken Hearted Me, Dynamite, Gone Too Long, and Living in a Hard World (3, 5, 8, & 11), the band combines an AOR with then-fashionable Reggae, New Wave, and Disco (shall we bend our knees to Bee Gees?), and these sound especially bald. In my honest opinion, art and fashion are just incompatible things, and anyone trying to unite them gets kitsch as a result, at best. (Of course, there are lots of such examples within the framework of out beloved genre, too.) As usual in such cases, there are a few ballads. Two of them: Truly From Within and A Part of the Game (4 & 13) are as sugary and uninspired as the rest of the material, and Restless Wind (10), with beautiful interplay between passages of piano, acoustic guitar and string ensemble in its basis, is, in my view, the only decent song on the album. By the way, the bonus tracks, available only on the CD-R, are a bit more diverse than most of the preceding songs, so it's quite understandable why they weren't included in an original LP.
Conclusion. Despite my great respect for the musicians (any real musicians in general), I must note it was erroneous to send out the product of AOR to the resources where it can't be appreciated at any point, just because this style runs counter to the conception of music adopted there. "Runner" is maybe an OK AOR effort, but the music has very little in common with a traditional (read ordinary) Hard Rock, not to mention something more inspired etc. So from a progressive standpoint, the album can't be regarded even as a mediocrity.
VM: July 15, 2004
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