- Product description -
Founding member Chris Duval describes the band that became A is A as beginning as a dream. A dream that almost came true but fell apart despite having everything going for them and the necessary songs and talent to become a force in the music business. Sometimes you just need an extra piece of luck.
MelodicRock Classics has been working with the band over the past 6 months to put together the complete A is A picture, including tracks recently revamped by the band's founder, plus all studio recordings that reflect changing lineups and studio sessions and some historic original demos. Finally, there are four original tracks recorded when the band started out as Thunderhouse.
About A is A: After a decade performing in bands throughout western New York state, keyboardist/guitarist Chris Duval relocated to Boston in 1985. Boston's original music scene was thriving, and he was confident that in that environment, he'd be able to create his ideal band; a powerful, collaborative hard rock band focused on well-crafted, melodic songs, strong vocals and great musicianship.
Drummer Steve Shields was the first to join, eventually followed by guitarist/vocalist Dale Stephanos. Chris' brother Tom, a veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene, relocated to Boston to join on bass and vocals. Completing the lineup was lead vocalist Mitch Jeffers, another transplant to Boston from Pennsylvania. The band began writing and performing as “Thunderhouse” in 1987.
In the spring of 1988, Thunderhouse recorded a self-produced, four song demo at Normandy Sound in Rhode Island. The demo received glowing reviews in the local music press and received local and regional airplay. The material the band began writing after this session started becoming more nuanced and mature. In late 1988, drummer Chuck Schuler was asked to join the band. Despite the risk of losing name recognition, the band decided to re-brand itself “A is A”, after their song of the same name.
With Chuck in place, the quality of the band's songwriting took another leap forward in depth and sophistication. They retired many of their Thunderhouse-era songs in favor of newer, stronger and more collaborative material. Those songs that survived the purge were reworked and revised. The much-improved A is A started performing in February of 1989.
Their second self-produced demo, recorded in April of 1989, was a major step forward from their previous work. These new songs were ambitious, intricate and sincere. Critical reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and “Barriers” was released on a compilation CD of new artists.
A home 8 track demo recording done in the fall of 1989 documented the band's continued growth as songwriters and performers. In late 1990, Chris engineered another two-song demo. The arrangements and performances are sparse, raw, and real. “The Nature Of His Love”, a metaphor for the band's struggle to succeed, received local radio airplay.
A is A had become a creative force, collaborating on ever more interesting and dynamic music, and new songs were being introduced at many of their shows. But despite their growing recognition, the meager pay at local clubs couldn't begin to cover the costs of rehearsal space, promotional material, transportation, equipment and recording time. A is A were living literally hand to mouth, fighting to juggle their day jobs in the face of the relentless financial and time demands of their frequent rehearsals and performances.
Quite suddenly, in early 1991, A is A collapsed under those pressures. Tom left the band, and while auditions were held to replace him, it became obvious that what A is A had become, a deeply integrated, collaborative musical entity, could not exist without the lineup it had. More succinctly, A could only be A.
Twenty years later, unable to get the music out of his mind, Chris tracked several of A is A's unrecorded songs in his home studio and began posting them for prosperity. These, along with “On The Bridge”, recorded by Tom in his home studio, and often used as a closer at A is A live shows, round out this collection.
CD1: The Masters
01. Thin Ice
02. You Get What You Pay For
03. Outside Out
05. A Day Of Liquid Oxygen
06. Time Stands Still
07. The Mental Tune (Inst.)
08. The Box
09. The Nature Of His Love
10. On The Bridge
11. Miracle Plan
12. Get Serious
CD2: The Demos
01. Thin Ice (Demo)
02. I Don't Need A Drink (Demo)
03. I Was Just Wondering (Demo)
04. I Have A Friend (Demo)
05. Into The Dark
06. Moth To A Flame
07. A is A
08. I Am Ready
09. I Am Ready (No Intro Edit)
Remastered by JK Northrup