334. NorthBound – NorthBound

NORTH BOUND (1983)

Northbound

At first I had considered listing this album amongst those chosen as a “guilty pleasure.” Everyone, critics and fan, have these albums. The ones that you’re not supposed to like and that you know the hyper-critical snobs will scoff at as being “too commercial” or “too pop” or “too whatever.” But spending months compiling the list and listening over and over to many albums I came to the conclusion that the inclusion of Northbounds one and only album is not only well deserved, but that is more than just a guilty pleasure, but a great pop album that stands up well nearly 30 years later.

Touches of Hall & Oates, Toto, Chicago, The Eagles and even Bryan Duncan, Kenny Marks and the first Prodigal album (for the CCM fans) can be heard throughout this incredibly well produced project. For a debut (and unfortunately only) release this was one of the best produced projects with bright high ends, diverse musical arrangements and some killer saxophone.

The album kicks off with what could be the catchiest songs in CCM history, Dancin’ In the Aisles. This ode to a more expressive form of worship has such a monster hook that I mentioned the band’s name to a friend of mine in Christian radio and he immediately began singing the chorus despite not playing the song since around 1985. “Maybe Tonight” slows things down to something akin to a mid-tempo rocker by The Eagles with a bit more soul.

The nearly 6 minute ballad “What Do You Do” is reminiscent of Kenny Marks’, “The Party’s Over,” with a slow build that ends huge with great passionate vocals. The question raised about gaining the whole world while losing your soul is timeless and works well within the storytelling nature of the song.

The more “Seawind,” jazzy tunes work really well on this project. Songs like Evening Song, Life Without Your Love and When I Look In Your Eyes are great examples. “You Got Me Singing” is the “singing” version of Dancin’ in the Aisles. The albums closer, “Easy Street,” has a “Desperado” sort of feel with the solo piano arrangement builds as the song progresses.

This is a clear AYSO, though it may be nearly impossible to find. The album was released nearly 30 years ago and was not amajor hit. It, along with David Edwards’ “Get the Picture” and Dion’s “I Put Away My Idols” were released with a free LP of various Myrrh artists that is also a tough find.

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  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I need to listen to this when I get home tonight.

  2. aarjayaitch
    October 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I bought this on LP and then cassette and I like it even better now than I did back then.

  3. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Gave it a listen and can totally see the quality of the musicianship. I hear a lot of the McDonald-led Doobie Brothers in their sound.

  4. Tim
    November 18, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I get the Hall $ Oates comparison – the first song really reminds me of them in the verses.

    The other songs all have familiar, if hard to place influences. With a little better production this one could have actually been excellent!

  5. Brett C
    December 1, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I never liked this album much when it came out, but I quite like it now.

  6. David
    January 11, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I had the cassette when it came out and would desperately love to land a CD version of it. I love “Dancing In the Aisles”, if I am not mistaken. It’s been quite a number of years since I heard it last…

  7. May 3, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I saw Northbound open for Servant in Portland, Oregon in the winter of 1983. This was on the “World Of Sand” tour. Other opening acts included Lloyd Thogmartin and Wil McFarlane. Anyhow, fantstic show- Northbound had great stage presence, particularly their bass guitarist. Immediately went out and purchased the Northbound record, but haven’t listened to it in years, namely due to a lack of a functioning turntable. Agreed, this needs to be re-issued on CD!

  8. January 5, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I played Northbound when I was a DJ on a college radio station around 1984-85. Seeing the album cover brought back fond listening memories. I loved the LP, but can’t locate. Sure would like to find it even if on cassette. I recently found one of my old audition tapes and heard “Life without your love”. Still sounds great years later. My radio coworkers couldn’t seem to get into their music, but I thought they were cutting edge and wished they had become more popular like Petra and Whiteheart. Their music wasn’t corny or hokey and sounded a lot like the mainstream music of their times. I’m still a fan all these years later.

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