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27 January 2010 @ 09:21 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #73: Aldo Nova "Cry Baby Cry"  
“I think it’s time for us to draw the line, ‘cause what gave you the right to make me cry….”

Aldo Nova “Cry Baby Cry”
[removed from youtube - sigh]

On a faded sheet of paper I found recently ripped unceremoniously from a notebook about 20 years ago, there are 5 albums listed under the heading “Best Album of the 80’s” – the albums listed are: 5.) Def Leppard: Pyromania, 4.) Rush: Moving Pictures, 3.) Def Leppard: Hysteria, 2.) Triumph: Stages (which would not be eligible these days as it’s a live album and they aren’t eligible, apparently I was breaking the rules back when I was a teenager…) and 1.) Aldo Nova: Subject.

If I were to make the list today I’d change the heading to Favorite Albums as any such list is subjective and my best is certainly not your best (or anyone’s!), but I would be hard pressed to find an album from the ‘80s that holds as many great memories as the 1984 Portrait release that sits at #1. Aldo is Canadian (all of 2010’s Songs of the Week have been from the Great White North thus far – I think I could pull off an all Canadian year, but I doubt that will happen) and is most well known for his minor top 40 entry of “Fantasy” from his 1982 debut. It was that song that turned my brother and I onto him in 1982 – ‘cause really, who can deny a guy who blasts a hole in building with a laser beam shot from the headstock of his Les Paul? He released Subject in 1984, then Twitch in 1985. After that he laid low, disillusioned with that album, record company pressures, and the album’s lack of success until he could release the type of album he wanted. That was 1991’s Blood on the Bricks with Jon Bon Jovi producing. Aldo met Jon at the Power Station in NYC in the early ‘80s where Aldo played on a number of records including Michael Bolton’s hard-rock debut. After the 1991 album, Aldo released a self produced record in 1996 called Nova’s Dream which is stunningly brilliant but didn’t see the light of day in the States. If you ever liked Aldo’s work, check the links area below and check out the track from this record, it’s an amazing record that you’ve most likely never heard of. Since that release he’s moved to Europe and focused on songwriting for others, most notably Celine Dion. Rumor has it that there is a new solo record in the works for 2010 and a European festival appearance as well!

Aldo plays all of the instruments on this track except the drums which are handled by Billy Carmassi (brother of Heart & Montrose’s Denny Carmassi). As with many Canadian albums, the deeper you look, the more connections you find and you don’t have to look very hard on this, the Exec. Producer is Val Azzoli who was instrumental in Rush’s success in the early ‘70s and then went on to an Exec level position at Atlantic (bringing Rush with him in 1989).

But what about the song….
The slow rising crescendo kicks the track off with a wash of sound that strings the album together. It’s definitely a rockin’ record, but Aldo brings the keys up on the record and it provides an overall soundscape to the entire album. If you had a stack of unreleased material from him I could pick out the tracks that were done during these sessions just based on that atmosphere. While I’m not a big fan of electronic drums, it’s a sign of the times, but the track doesn’t sound as dated as other drum tracks from the period do. There’s a roll that is very hard to achieve with acoustic drums and that’s a benefit to the electronic, and those rolls are all over this album, including during the intro here. A quick, but searing 15-second solo leads into Aldo’s distinctive voice and the keys take the melody while the guitar provides crunching chords underneath. An empowering ‘see ya later’ chorus proves a cathartic release. A series of falling and rolling drum fills lead into a 30-second blistering solo that phases back and forth so many times your head is about to spin until a double tracked left and right channel lick leads back to a final chorus and a triumphant end.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should probably reveal that I won 2nd place in a lip-sync contest in high-school when I “performed” this, losing out to my best friend who did Heart’s “Alone” – I mean, c’mon, she just had to stand and fake it, I ‘sung” AND played a mean guitar – you think those solos were easy to fake?

More Aldo Nova:
Fantasy – seriously, in 1982 this was the coolest thing to an 8-year old (1:15-1:25) audio way low when the band kicks in tho
Monkey on your Back(the single from Subject)
Is Anybody There?/Dreamwalk – amazing stuff