Russ Ballard - Russ Ballard

Russ Ballard 1984 cover
Russ Ballard
Russ Ballard
EMI Records
There are some albums which have left their mark on rock music for good. Some albums which gave inspiration to thousands of musicians so as to play, write and record music for the first time. Some albums that must be included in every music lover’s collection and deserve a place in the “Hall of Fame” of rock music.
Such an album is Russ Ballard’s homonymous release which came out in 1984. It is not to be mistaken with the other self-titled album which was released in 1975 though. As Russ Ballard told me: "The original “Russ Ballard” album was on CBS. The ‘84 album was on EMI America... I didn’t think much about the title dilemma, at the time... I still call the EMI Record – The “Voices” album".
1984 was a time when music did rule the radio waves. Not fancy cover artworks, or album titles etc... just music, which was more important than everything else. Russ released an album which was meant to become a classic. You see the 80s was the time when the most rock/hard rock classic albums were released.
Russ has a bunch of remarkable musicians by his side on this album: Simon Phillips (Toto, Asia, Michael Schenker, Joe Satriani, etc.) on drums, Mo Foster (Michael Schenker, MSG, Gary Moore, Meatloaf, Forcefield, etc.) on bass and David Sancious (Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Santana, Eric Clapton, etc.) on keyboards.
The way melodic rock, AOR & pop-rock music have been blended here is supreme. Apart from any music tags – this album can be simply described as a rock release. The 8 tracks it features are all exceptional. “In the Night” and “Voices” became major hits and both appeared in Miami Vice TV series in the episodes: Calderone’s Return: Part 1 – The Hit List” and “Calderone’s Return: Part 2 – Calderone’s Demise” respectively. Literally, any track on this album is a potential hit! Everything seems so damn easy when we talk about a songwriter like Russ.
Instead of going for a track by track analysis I’ll better let Russ do that for me... as he exclusively did on Grande Rock.
“I Can’t Hear You No More”: I would say it’s a soul/rock song… it’s a good stage song.
“In the Night”: It’s about a big city, early morning and what goes on in the underworld. Great playing on this, Simon Phillips on drums, David Sancious on keys and Mo Foster on bass.
“Two Silhouettes”: It turns out to be a very popular song. I think the story has happened to a lot of people.
“Voices”: The song seemed to touch a nerve with radio in USA. It’s a very introspective lyric... It just seemed to happen when I wrote it – (it took half an hour) – I don’t know where it came from.
“A Woman Like You”: It’s really the opposite of “Voices” – straight ahead and simple – I thought it could be a radio single.
“Day to Day”: I loved this song when I wrote it. The chords in the verse are strange sounding, but seemed to work... I think the lyric would mean a lot to anybody that’s been left alone.
“Playing with Fire”: Is a straight ahead shuffle, however, I was determined to find some new chords sequences for the song, and I believed I succeeded.
“The Last Time”: I was pleased with the tune and the images in the verses... I think it gets lost a bit towards the end. Most of the tracks had Mo, Simon and Dave S. playing on them, as did “The Last Time” – Great band!
I believe that this is the best album Russ has ever released. Honestly Russ is a hit-making machine. He has released music himself and given so many hit songs to various artists and bands that’s almost impossible to count. Thus, a very big tribute to Russ’ career will be published in the next months along with a fresh exclusive interview. So you’d better not miss it.
Apart from the hits that every Russ album features, there are also tracks which are of great music value and they never had any air-play but that’s not enough to lower their overall quality. I’ll close this review with a statement: “there shouldn’t be any rock fan who doesn’t own this outstanding album”! Hence, if you belong to that minority who doesn’t have it, it’s never late to make things right…

Russ Ballard - Vocals, Guitar
Simon Phillips - Drums
Mo Foster - Bass
Greg Sanders - Keyboards
David Sancious - Keyboards

01. I Can’t Hear You No More (5:51)
02. In the Night (4:09)
03. Two Silhouettes (4:18)
04. Voices (5:34)
05. A Woman Like You (4:26)
06. Day to Day (3:52)
07. Playing With Fire (5:08)
08. The Last Time (5:24)