Friday, November 11, 2016

Robbie Dupree-Robbie Dupree (1980)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: November 11, 2016

With all of the good music released within the past decade that I've been indulging in over the past several days, I've somehow made it all the way back to the beginning of the awesome 80's with my music-listening. Well, I can attribute that to my continued work in getting the 'R' entries in my music library organized, and that's when the name Robbie Dupree sparked my interest. "Steal Away": that is the the one timeless classic that this singer/songwriter is most famous for, yet it was well after the 90's, I believe, when I would first become aware of its existence through the soft rock radio channels. I've always loved how this starry tune gradually fades in during the opening movement before the twinkly melody, the light synthesized dance beat, and Robbie's tenderly husky vocals (I'm often reminded here of the long-time DOOBIE BROTHERS frontman, Michael McDonald, performing their own timeless classic, "What A Fool Believes") all become front and center. 'Why don't we steal away into the night?'—those simple romantic words from the chorus make me wanna go 'Ooooh, I could listen to this song all night'! After your heart and your ears have been 'stolen away' on that sparkling gem, perhaps you'll be stolen away further on the jazzed-up upbeat "I'm No Stranger" that gets served up next. That happens for me personally whenever I play the third track, "Thin Line", a song about that familiar intangible boundary that's often wedged between a person staying in love versus leaving all of that love behind. It's the chorus that hooks me in particular, which shines on the strength of some mighty good production. Songs that grow on me and end up evolving into very pleasant listens deserve to be mentioned. "It's A Feeling" is one of those, as Robbie's smooth and soaring vocals grab my attention about midway through, when the words he passionately delivers start becoming more and more earnest. The harmonica is introduced here, and it makes a lovely accompaniment to the breezy groove. The twinkly and starry production of "Steal Away" seemed to have influenced the very catchy and romantically-warming "Hot Rod Hearts"; I can hear a similar keyboard accompaniment while Robbie sings about an unforgettable night of love in the fastlane. "Nobody Else" instantly captivates me because of it's early-80's dancey disco rhythm.....and remains captivating with the jazzed-up festiveness creating a perfect celebratory atmosphere for the celebration that is him being the only one for the woman he sings about. And then there's the concluding piece, "Lovely Runner", which I enjoy very much also; it's another gem on this album with the 'love is in motion' theme, and I truly believe some of the helpless hearts out there will be 'stolen away' by this one as well:

1. Steal Away
2. I'm No Stranger
3. Thin Line
4. It's A Feeling
5. Hot Rod Hearts
6. Nobody Else
7. We Both Tried
8. Love Is A Mystery
9. Lonely Runner


Days of Broken Arrows said...

Great post. You're on the mark about "Steal Away." When it first came out, Rolling Stone did an article jokingly (?) calling it "Clone Rock," because it sounded so much like the Doobie Brothers.

But I came to appreciate Dupree because of "Hot Rod Hearts," which is also on the album. It was a Top 30 hit, and I think it painted a pretty accurate portrait of what teen life was like then. Its upbeat Beach Boys-like lyric was deliberately juxtaposed with wistful chords and a sad, longing melody. That, to me, perfectly captured the feeling of being a teenager: Excited but anxious; happiness mixed with misery.

I'm also pretty sure "Hot Rod Hearts" inspired Jackson Browne's uncharacteristic (but great) "teen" song from two years later, "Somebody's Baby," which was one of the biggest hits from the soundtrack to "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." This was a non-LP cut for Browne at the time, so it gets overlooked now, but in its day it was a massive hit.

Decades later I found out Dupree and one of my uncles from New York were pals. Who knew?

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