Released by: Friday Music
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Franke Previte – lead vocals
Billy Elworthy – lead and rhythm guitars
Blake Levinsohn – keyboards
Tommy Ayers – keyboards, backing vocals (played on the first album, but didn’t officially join the band until the next one)
Leigh Foxx – bass (currently in Blondie, as of 1997)
Claude LeHenaff – drums (left prior to recording of the second album)
She’s A Runner
Runnin’ Into The Night
You’re My Girl
One For All
Annie Goes Hollywood
Never Had It Better
Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)
Just What I Want
You Don’t Want Me (Like I Want You)
Come Rain Or Shine
You’re All That Really Matters
One Good Reason
Blame It On My Heart
Hungry Eyes (Original Version/Bonus Track)
Beat Of A Broken Heart (Unreleased Bonus Track)
Not a single month goes by without me playing a song by the legendary and still rather obscure FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. Sure they had a few hits in the USA, but in Europe only the die-hard AOR fans are familiar with the 3 records of this New Brunswick, New Jersey based early 80s band. The band’s lead singer FRANKE PREVITE scored however a major hitsingle as songwriter for DIRTY DANCING’s “The time of my life”, a song everybody knows and gave Franke himself even the Oscar almost 25 years ago! However, the 3 early 80s records by FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS are hidden gems that should be ranked alongside any FOREIGNER, TOTO, JOURNEY or SURVIVOR record. Although I already own all 3 records on both vinyl and CD, it is always nice when a new
dedicated record of the band is being released, especially when Franke himself remastered the original tracks just recently. This is the case with the new ‘best of’ CD of FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, which has been released on FRIDAY MUSIC.
Although not all their classics can be found here, because the ultimate FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS tune “Keep on fighting” is sadly missing, from start to finish this is Classic early 80s AOR with a little Westcoast here and there. The band was well-known for their incredible catchy hooklines, memorable choruses and the outstanding picture-perfect vocals of Franke, while instrumental they were the typical pure early radio-ready AOR band from the US of A.
This new best of CD contains a lot of ballads, but Franke could really rock too, such as can be heard in for example “Never had itbetter” (late 70s FOREIGNER meets early 80s SURVIVOR, including the dut-dut piano-keyboardwork a la TOTO’s “Hold the line”) and “Outrageous” (their most Melodic Rock orientated song), although they had a lot more rockers, which cannot be found here however.
Anyway, the new remastering update is excellent and makes the songs sound massive. Without any doubts, this kind of AOR is almost impossible to create nowadays, because the level is really from another planet when listening to such AOR Classics such as “Sweetheart” (a Westcoast-AOR Classic shuffle), “You´re My Girl” (uptempo AOR rocker with a very infectious chorus), “Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)” (damn, they could write AOR ballads as good as any JOURNEY or SURVIVOR ballad), “You Don’t Want Me (Like I Want You)” (this song is AOR at it’s very best, putting BON JOVI’s “She don’t know me” alike song to shame), “Come Rain Or Shine” (TOTO didn’t sound this good in the early 1980s!) and the stunning AOR ballad “You´re All That Really Matters” (also recorded by TYCOON in a slightly different version). Now this is how AOR should sound like and although I keep on checking out all the new bands trying to create something similar, if you listen to this CD you will understand that all the Classics in the AOR genre were already recorded 30 years ago.
Like already mentioned, not all the classic FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS tunes are included here, but you get a great selection from the band’s first 3 albums, with as addition a couple unreleased bonustracks (Franke’s version of his own penned Pop Classic “Hungry eyes” and a completely unknown song for me, namely “Beat Of A Broken Heart”, which was originally written for Dirty Dancing 2, but never released until now).
It’s always a pleasure to write something new about one of the pieces of the puzzle that shaped the wonderful history of AOR music and I am glad to have shared with each and every one of you my thoughts about that wonderful early 80s band called FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. There may never come a reunion, the legacy is once again released on CD, this time through an excellent
compilation CD titled “The Best Of – Anniversary Edition”. More info at: www.fridaymusic.com
Written by Gabor
Ratings Gabor 9/10