Back-up Vocal~ The solo album is a fascinating animal. In many cases, an artist will venture off to make a solo album when band egos have flared to a breaking point, or when a member has stock piled songs which were never used by their principle band. It can be also be a matter of band members taking a break from the album-tour cycle and one member feels the drive to explore the artistic realms outside the construct that made them a name in the first place. One of my favorite examples is the Richie Sambora “Stranger In This Town” album- a debut solo project made whilst Bon Jovi were on a break in the early 1990’s. A brilliant project to this day, which truly showcases his talents as a guitar player more than worthy of the attention and praise he received from the press and his peers. I especially love it, because Sambora didn’t make his first solo album to sell 20 million copies (and alas, it didn’t. To this day, far too few people know about it). He made his solo album to prove to himself he could make one. He needed to see what he could do beyond the Bon Jovi machine and he crafted a true work of art. Richie, if you ever read this one, I send you the grandest of Kudos and offer you the DBS 3 Salute (see Comic Strip #41)! But, I am also reminded of the solo albums periods of Yes at different stages of the 1970’s.  From what I have read and continue to read from a vast array of books and magazine articles regarding those particular times in their history, success and fortune had effected them in a myriad of ways. Egos and artistic ambitions had seriously begun to clash. Thus, a bit of breathing room was needed to relieve strains in the band dynamics. They all made solo albums to cleanse the palate, with various degrees of fan reception and critical acclaim. 

Which brings to mind a question I have asked myself from time to time, when a musician from a well-known band goes renegade with a debut solo project. What was the desired end result? Was it money? Was it the quest for broader acceptance? Was it an attempt to put other band members in their place with a project that would “wow ’em out” and perhaps shame them into welcoming new song ideas presented by members other than strictly those who are known to wield the pens? Most often, a solo album from one member of an active band remains just that: a moment in the sun that appeals to the die-hard fans of the musician in question. Perhaps they do a small tour, perhaps not. Best case scenario, if band relations are centered in trust, respect, brotherhood and encouragement, the larger picture and gestalt of the overall union will only grow stronger, if they are effected at all. My guys in Marillion have been making it work brilliantly for decades. Their bass player, Pete Trewawas has more side projects than anyone else in the band and he always comes back as a refreshed, lively, more creative and dangerous powerhouse, with even more to contribute after each one of his albums outside Marillion. What we have here, is a slightly different set of conditions at play. Because, in the case of our Bo, his frustration level with his DBS 3 brethren forced him to step out at the first whiff of opportunity. His vision was to unleash a project that would break him free of what he had come to feel were the confines and chaos of Manny’s dream. All well and good. Indeed, admirable. To me, his solo album notion always felt much more driven by a quest to romance a personal muse, than a desire for any sort of “gloating moment” or financial payday from skyrocketing sales. That lead me to pondering…What happens if Bo’s album is actually a hit?! In fact, what happens if it’s a Grand Slam?! What are the potential repercussions for him and his full-time group? Whilst allowing this tale to unfold, it made the most sense to give our guy an overwhelming taste of victory for his brave and noble achievement. Especially, if he discovers right quick that he never wanted the fame and prestige that comes with his triumph, once he sees how it looks on the other side.

I don’t often throw down with a nod and a wink to more current, or at least recent T.V. shows or movies. But, now and then it must be done. “Justfied” was a truly incredible work of cop drama and Walton Goggins was so compelling as Boyd Crowder, that his performance was truly baffling. If you’ve never seen the show before, what in God’s name is stopping you? Get your hands on it. Now. Finally, once again there are Shout-Outs to “Wiseguy” and “Local Hero” nestled all snuggly-like in this one, for those who know how to spot them.