by Jeff Fiedler
Albums from the Lost & Found is a regular feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Jeff Fiedler reviews and helps us rediscover great pop albums that seem to have been lost to time.
Unlike Ironhorse, Pages would never score a Top 40 hit, but they would last slightly longer than that band, releasing three albums during their brief existence, two for Epic Records (a 1978 self-titled effort and the 1979 follow-up Future Street) and one for Capitol (another self-titled effort that was released in 1981). The band’s lineup differed slightly from album to album, but its core remained the same: lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Richard Page, keyboardist Steve George, and lyricist John Lang.
If those names look vaguely familiar to you, there’s a good reason: all three men would join forces yet again in the mid-‘80s as the core of the new band Mr. Mister, which scored in a major way with two massive Number One hits (“Broken Wings” and “Kyrie”) and a pair of lesser Top 40 hits [“Is It Love,” “Something Real (Inside Me/Inside You)”] before calling it a day at the end of the decade. [The band would be fondly remembered for years to come, though, and would later be name-checked in the chorus to the massive Train hit “Hey, Soul Sister,” while Page would score an additional hit on his own behind the scenes in the mid-‘90s as the co-writer of Madonna’s “I’ll Remember.”]
If you’re a fan of Mr. Mister, it’s only fair to warn you that the first Pages album, 1978’s Pages, produced by former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Colomby, isn’t quite as rock-oriented as later Pages outings or the Mr. Mister albums. The members of Pages actually first came together while serving as Andy Gibb’s backing band for an extensive 1977 tour, and if you know that, it may not seem so surprising that the debut album from Pages is actually in much more of a soft-rock vein than your typical Mr. Mister album.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t have its hip moments, and the excellent opening cut “Clearly Kim” is a fantastic light-funk number (sporting a great mini-Moog solo from Steve George) that sounds like a fusion of Ambrosia (“Biggest Part of Me,” “How Much I Feel”) and Steely Dan, even adopting the quirky lyrical style of the latter band (“I get a feel for the island set / Vividly real in your novelettes / A satin kimono’d writer’s romance”).
The appealing “This Is for the Girls” is a gently-swaying, pillow-soft ballad that benefits from the presence of guest star Philip Bailey from Earth, Wind & Fire; once Bailey adds his own distinctive falsetto to the mix, you can’t help but be blown away by the harmonies.
The George-sung “Let It Go” is slightly discofied soul-pop akin to that of Ambrosia with a very funky bass line and an immediately-catchy chorus, while “Listen for the Love” is propelled by some memorable horn lines from Randy and Michael Brecker and delicious little touches of percussion courtesy of Claudio Slon (formerly of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66).
“If I Saw You Again” boasts another killer hook, while the album-closing lazy grooves of “I Get It from You” (featuring Victor Feldman on vibes) would be dug out of obscurity several years later and covered by Herb Alpert (with a rare vocal turn from the legendary trumpeter) on his 1981 album Magic Man. Page even sits out entirely on the jazz-fusion of the furious instrumental “Love Dance,” an impressive showcase for Steve George’s talents.