Stephen Crane used to play in a band called Baby at the end of the 70’s but his opportunity as solo artist arrived in 1984 by the hand of the major MCA label. Crane’s debut ‘Kicks‘ was produced by Jai Winding (Le Roux) who also played keys, and no-other than the great Steve Lukather. In fact, all the Toto guys were involved in the recording including groove master Jeff Porcaro on drums.
We also find Richard Page (Mr. Mister, Pages) and AOR guru Tom Kelly (I-Ten, Van Stephenson, Survivor) doing backing vocals, together with brilliant session guitar players such as Duane Sciacqua, Joey Brasler and Ray Pannell.
The multitude of guitarists has an explanation; ‘Kicks‘ for the most part is a guitar driven AOR / Melodic Rock album with a 1984’s radio friendly sound. And on most tracks, we found three different six-string axemen playing together in the same song. Crane’s pumping bass lines add even more muscle to the tunes, and his sometimes raspy but melodic vocals reminds you a cross of a young Brock Walsh, Van Stephenson on the calmer moments and Paul Sabu on the edgy. The album features the best session players in L.A. like Steve Lukather + Jeff, Mike & Steve Porcaro (Toto), Richard Page (Mr. Mister, Pages), Duane Sciacqua (Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey), Jai Winding (Stevie Nicks, Molly Hatchett, Cheap Trick, America, Blue Öyster Cult), Tom Kelly (Madonna, Whitney Houston, Survivor, Van Stephenson), James Newton Howard (Elton John, Toto) & many more… In 1986, Stephen Crane joined the Glenn Frey band (from The Eagles) and toured in Japan & the USA. He also worked with Joe Schermie from Three Dog Night & Brian Ray from Paul McCartney’s band and still remains very active in the U.S music scene.
There’s not a single weak track here, going from hooky and catchy numbers like ‘Headed For A Heartbreak‘, ‘Joanne‘ or the urgent ‘Victims Of Love‘, to more AORish cuts such as the Toto-esque ‘Back On My Feet Again‘ (featuring a killer Lukather solo) and the Van Stephenson sounding ‘I’ll Take Care Of You‘.
Criminally ignored not only by MR / AOR fans in general – but also by the industry as it never was released on CD – ‘Kicks‘ is one of the best records in the genre from that era.
This re-issue is available as remastered limited edition of 500 CD copies via AOR Heaven’s mailorder store only. Liner notes by Dave Reynolds.