Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#908 in the series) is the self-titled debut from Randy Hansen.
1980 was a bit of a hazy year for me. Turning twenty-one will do that! Looking back, there are definitely many question marks. However, Randy Hansen’s debut that year was an exclamation point in my life for several reasons.
I previously had heard of Hansen as yet another in an endless line of Jimi Hendrix impersonators. No offense, but… yawn. On a lark, I bought his debut, and continue to play it, 34 years later. Side note- you probably have already heard him- his guitar histrionics are on the Apocalypse Now soundtrack.
Side one opens with the energetic “Champagne And Cocaine,” an anthem I’m sure contributed to my aforementioned hazy days. It’s apparent from the get-go this is a guitar lover’s album. It’s all there- fuzz, wah-wah, blazing lead solos. However, one can’t overlook the exceptional vocals and harmonies, throughout. Credit due to all three members of the power trio- Hansen, bassist Scott Rosburg, and drummer Charles Trapp.
A few songs, particularly “Time Won’t Stop,” were commercially accessible enough to warrant a hit single. A perfect mix of hooks, harmonies, and just the right amount of heavy guitar is much easier on my ears than, say, anything pop-era Journey ever released. Ah, if only Randy were as pretty as Steve Perry…
Unexpected highlight is a rousing cover of Sly And The Family Stones’ “I Want To Take You Higher.” I didn’t see that coming! It nearly captures the intensity of the original, while adding a smoking guitar solo and instrumental midsection. Recommended.
Admittedly, a few songs do sound dated; mellower songs I skipped even in 1980. But, I’m just realizing now the disco-beat tinged (tainted?!) “Dancin’ With Me” quite possibly contains the best guitar solo on the entire album. Better late than never.
On a personal note, I saw Hansen perform twice in 1980 (see pix) and partied with him after one show so late we were the only people left that weren’t employees! He is a genuinely nice and extremely talented guy who I personally believe should’ve gotten a better shot from Columbia than ONE freaking album!
–Tim Shockley, Chicago, Illinois USA
- Champagne And Cocaine
- Watch What You Say
- Time Won’t Stop
- I Want To Take You Higher
- Dancin’ With Me
- Don’t Pretend
- Randy Hansen – Guitar, Vocals
- Scott Rosburg – Bass, Vocals
- Charles Tapp – Drums, Vocals