230. Future Eyes – Sheila Walsh
FUTURE EYES (1982)
Released in 1981 in the UK and later in 1982 in the US by Sparrow records, Sheila Walsh’s debut release, Future Eyes, was shocking on many fronts. From Walsh’s short, punk rock type haircut to the piercing high pitched vocals and driving new wave keyboard attack, the album was simply a revelation for the time. And though the album would not wear as well as other albums from the same time it was undeniably significant release and was actually quite a strong record within its genre.
Long before Walsh became the darling of the Women of Faith movement, she was an edgy, spandex clad rocker that was ridiculously compared to Pat Benatar by an industry that had no idea what they were talking about! Outside of the cropped doo there was nothing similar to Benatar anywhere on this album.
What you will find is a real Euro-techno new wave album interspersed with strong ballads meant to soothe the questioning CCM bookstore crowd. You also find an impressive and dynamic vocal range and very memorable tunes. The album was also significant for giving Graham Kendrick a songwriting platform on this side of the Atlantic. Kendrick was responsible for seven of the albums 9 tracks including the US only version of “Burn On,” which went to be a monster radio hit.
The album actually has two different versions with two songs being pulled from the UK version and Burn On replacing them. Larry Norman helped on a couple songs but was actually given producers credit on the US version (I’m assuming to give it some street cred for the rock consumer) and Norman would also include a couple tracks on his “Barking at the Ants” compilation. On “Love in My Life” you can hear Norman add backing vocals as the song fades out.
Some listeners had a negative response to Walsh’s tendency to squeak at the end of phrases and stay in her higher register a majority of the time. I found it unique and an original quality and still appreciate it. It still appreciate the album both on a listening and an historical basis. Walsh would record a few more pop/new wave albums before becoming much more CCM safe and a nationally renowned speaker, author and television personality (co-hosting the 700 Club).