Thursday, November 13, 2014

Air Supply - Selftitled (1976) plus Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1975 - Present)
With their heavily orchestrated, sweet ballads, the Australian soft rock group Air Supply became a staple of early-'80s radio, scoring a string of seven straight US Top Five singles. Air Supply, for most intents and purposes, was the duo of vocalists Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell; other members came through the group over the years, yet they only functioned as backing musicians and added little to the group's sound.

The group evolved after Graham joined the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar in April 1975 and began singing with fellow cast members Russell Hitchcock and Chrissie Hammond. The trio became a serious project during Superstar's New Zealand tour when they made some appearances at campuses and on radio and TV.
Chrissie left to pursue a solo career and went on to play the part of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar before becoming part of the duo, Cheetah. She was replaced by Jeremy Paul, who joined the show in Brisbane after performing in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Jeremy had also played bass with a Sydney band called Soffrok and therefore added additional instrumentation to the trio.

In September 1976, they scored a recording contract with CBS and subsequently released a single comprising two Graham Russell compositions, 'Love and Other Bruises' backed with 'If You Knew Me'.
"Love And Other Bruises" and "If You Knew Me", the first demos of Graham’s compositions were recorded on a tiny tape deck in a theatre orchestra pit. Everyone turned them down, but one - CBS Records who admired their unique style. They made a single in one afternoon and it shot to number one on the National charts. The duo found help from Frank Esler-Smith, Superstar’s musical director, and Air Supply’s future keyboardist. Graham and Russell settled on the named Air Supply, because it held several meanings: Air is the term used in classical music, meaning melody. At the time, it seemed as though everyone else in Australia was doing heavy metal. Ballads were a breath of fresh air. Astrologically speaking, Graham and Russell are both Geminis, which is an ‘air’ sign. In the mid-seventies,"the star sign bit was really hip, you know", laughs Graham.

Superstar ended its season in Sydney on October 16, thus freeing the boys to make personal appearances to promote the single which was already receiving airplay. By the end of October they had begun touring and had augmented their line-up with a drummer (NIGEL MACARA, ex-Ariel), guitarist (BRENTON WHITE) and a keyboard player (ADRIAN SCOTT).

For several years, the group gained no attention outside of Australia, earning one significant hit single, "Love and Other Bruises" (1976). In December 1976, they released their first album 'Air Supply' which is featured in this post, and it attained them a gold record three months later. Meanwhile their follow-up single, 'Empty Pages', was released in February 1977, and although it sold well, particularly in Brisbane, it just missed becoming a top forty hit.

Their first international exposure came in the late '70s, when Rod Stewart had them as his opening act on a North American tour. The group's tour of Australia with Rod Stewart increased their status enormously and gained them assurances from Rod and his management as to the international potential of their act. At this point also, they began receiving some recognition overseas with the release of their first album and single in Canada, the UK and New Zealand.

The group's big break came hot on the heels of the release of their new single, 'Do What You Do', when, in June 1977, it was announced that they would be appearing at the annual CBS Convention in London with Chicago and Boz Scaggs. This was a fantastic achievement being the first Australian act to work at such an exclusive function.

Late June saw another step forward with the release of the new LP, 'The Whole Thing's Started' (which featured Graham's compositions and continued in their soft rock theme), and a tour of the US and Canada with their old friend, Rod Stewart. Air Supply's first stumbling block happened in August when it was announced that Jeremy was leaving and returning to Australia with no news of a replacement. This retarded their progress and was not helped by the lack of airplay and therefore chart success of their next Australian single, That's How The Whole Thing Started', released in October 1977. However, the group continued as a duo supported by their band and completed their tour with Rod, which turned out to be more than successful, before returning to Australia late in December.

Air Supply signed a record contract with Arista in 1980, releasing their first album for the new record company by the end of the year. 'Lost in Love', was a major success in the U.S., selling over two million copies and spawning the hit singles "Lost in Love", "All Out of Love" and "Every Woman in the World". The following year they released their second Arista album, 'The One That You Love'. The title track became their only number one hit and it also featured two other Top Ten hits, "Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)" and "Sweet Dreams". With their third album, 1982's 'Now and Forever', their popularity dipped slightly -- it only had one Top Ten hit, "Even the Nights Are Better" and the other two singles, "Young Love" and "Two Less Lonely People in the World", scraped the bottom of the Top 40. Air Supply released a Greatest Hits collection in 1983, featuring a new single, "Making Love Out of Nothing at All". The single spent two weeks at number two while the album peaked at number seven and eventually sold over four million copies.

Two years later, they released another self titled album 'Air Supply' (1985), their fourth album. It featured the number 19 single "Just As I Am", but it was clear that their audience was shrinking -- the album was their first not to go platinum. 'Hearts in Motion' (1986) was even less successful, peaking at number 84 and spending only nine weeks on the charts. The duo still released their 'Christmas Album' (1987) and after its disappointing performance, Air Supply decided to break up. Russell started a solo career without any participation of Graham and released his first solo album, Russell Hitchcock (1987). The cover song "Someone Who Believes in You" (previously recorded by Carole King) was a hit in several countries.

Hitchcock and Russell reunited in 1991, releasing 'Earth Is...', but the album failed to make the charts, although its tracks "Without You" and "Stronger Than The Night" were being played in several countries. Two years later, they released 'The Vanishing Race' (1993), whose single was a smash hit worldwide, except in the States. The duo released 'News From Nowhere' (1995) and topped the world charts with "Unchained Melody", another cover songs recorded previously by the American duo The Righteous Brothers. That same year, Air Supply recorded a live album during their successful tour in Asia, 'Now And Forever... Greatest Hits Live and More' which featured a brand new studio song "The Way I Feel" and a re-recording of their old hit "Now And Forever". The album was released worldwide followed by the releasing of a VCD, VHS tape and a laser disc which would offer their fans anywhere the chance of seeing the band performing live during their famous Asian tour. An interactive CD-ROM called 'As Closes As This' (1996) was also available featuring videos, music and much more about that tour. Still in the end of the decade, the due released 'The Book of Love' (1997), which featured woman's backing vocal and a new rhythm and instruments on some songs. The same year, they also released a new compilation album called 'Air Supply The Ultimate Collection'. Two new studio songs were included, "Longer" (a new cover) and "The Scene", which would be released later on Yours Truly.

Graham Russell (left) and Russell Hitchcock (right) Today
 The new millennium marked the band's first studio album in four years, and a summer tour in support of 'Yours Truly' (2001). Their single "You Are The Reason" (duet with Manhaz) had a minor hit. That would be their last studio album for Arista (BMG). The next ones would all be released by their new recording company, A Nice Pear: 'Celestine Travelers', 'The Heart of the Rose' (both in 2002), 'The Future' (2007, all Graham's solo recordings), 'Across The Concrete Sky' (2003) and their last studio album 'The Singer' and the 'Song' (2005). Still in 2005, the band released 'It Was 30 Years Ago Today' (recorded live during their tour in Canada) and 'Love Songs', featuring their last studio recording "Miracles".

The band keeps on the road, touring live across several countries, performing their greatest hits ever. They also have included some Graham's solo songs from his last album 'The Future' and some brand new Air Supply songs which will hopefully be included on their next studio album, Zed as The River and Me, Faith in Love, Let Me Be The One and A Little Bit of Everything. [Sources: All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine; and Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopedia of Rock. Outback Press. 1978  p9-10]
This post consists of MP3 (320kps) ripped from my vinyl bought the same year I was doing my HSC and "Love and Other Bruises" was riding high in the 3XY charts, reaching #5 by the start of 1977.
Also included is full album artwork and inserts featuring lyrics and band credits. As a special bonus, I'm also including the (non-album) B-Side Single "If You Knew Me" (flip side to Love and Other Bruises) plus a live rendition of "Love and Other Bruises" which was recorded in 1977 and sourced from a compilation LP "The Lost Tracks". Another Air Supply album which I recommend is "Life Support" (released in 1979) and is available from me mate's blog Vinyoleum.
(On thing that I learned while researching this post, is that Mark McEntee eventually went on to play guitar for the Divinyls - a complete change in musical style I must say ! )
Track Listing
01 - Feel The Breeze
02 - I Don't Believe You
03 - Empty Pages
04 - What A Life
05 - Secret Agent
06 - The Weight Is My Soul
07 - Love And Other Bruises *
08 - It's Not Easy
09 - We Are All Alone
10 - Strangers In Love
11 - Aint It A Shame
12 - If You Knew Me (Bonus B-Side Single)
13 - Love And Other Bruises (Bonus Live, 1977)

Air Supply were:
Graham Russell (Lead Vocal, Acoustic & Electric Guitar)
Russell Hitchcock (Lead Vocal, Congas)
Adrian Scott (Keyboards)
Jeremy Paul (Bass)
Mark McEntee (Electric, Rhythm and Lead Guitars)
Jeff Browne (drums)
Ian Bloxson (Percussion)
* Guest artists - Graeme Pearce (Drums) Peter Dawson (Piano)

Air Supply Link (122Mb)

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