I will endeavour to enlighten yáll with picks from my deep archive of 1-album/1-music video bands. These kind of bands were mostly relegated to the waning days of 80’s Metal, 90% of them coming out between 1988-1993. There were a plethora of great bands then whose music got little or no play on the radio. EYES is one of those bands.
Let me tell y’all something here, this album ROCKS! They were really swinging for the fences with the songwriting on this record. The kind of hunger you only hear on debut albums. They must have felt this was their only shot, make it or break it. Here is a little history before I break this record down for you…
EYES was fronted by vocal powerhouse Jeff Scott Soto backed up by Jimmy O’Shea on Bass, Steven Dougherty on Guitar and Aldy Damian on the drums. They signed to Curb Records, a label normally associated with Country music after originally recording an album’s worth of material for Capitol. The band’s debut album was released in 1990 and was the first to feature an album recording of the L.A. ROCKS classic ‘Nobody Said It Was Easy’, a number that must have been recorded by every singer who has ever rehearsed with Aldy Damian. It is interesting to note that although Jimmy O’Shea is listed as the bass player, all but two of the tracks on the first album featured Yngwie Malmsteen’s Marcel Jacob on bass.
This album is nearly perfect. Musical production techniques by this time had been perfected and the production is HUGE!!!! It sounds as if EYES would have needed 50 musicians onstage to pull off the sound of this album. To be honest, the main reason most will check it out is the presence of journeyman vocalist Jeff Scott Soto. Soto, who made his mark working with the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell, his own band Talisman, and (briefly) as lead singer of Journey, he joined Eyes as a replacement for James Christian, who left to front House of Lords.
The self-titled Eyes album was very much a product of its time, straddling the line between hard rock and radio-freindly AOR. It’s the kind of feel-good party rock from a time when bands like Firehouse, Bon Jovi, Bad English, and Damn Yankees were dominating the airwaves. Personally, I think comparisons to Von Groove or Tyketto are more appropriate, but like Eyes, neither of those bands received any radio airplay. The album stuck pretty close to the formula, with party anthems (“Callin’ All Girls”, “I Can’t Get Enough”), the obligatory ballad (“Nobody Said It Was Easy”), catchy songs, guitar hooks, and of course a solid vocal performance by Soto. The album’s most interesting moment is probably the band’s version of the song “Don’t Turn Around”, an old R&B track previously covered by reggae artists Aswad (and later by dance act Ace of Bass).
The album kicks off with what was to be the debut single/video “Calling All Girls” This tune has that classic Crank It Up! Feel to it. It would be right at home on any 80’s Metal compilation album…Unfortunately not many heard it. The sorta-sleaze lyrics go great with the bluesy guitar riff that accompanies them. Absolutely HUGE backing vocals and killer guitar solo make this one of the highlights of the record.
Keeping the fire stoked “Every Single Minute” is up next. If the album had done well this might have been the 3rd single. Great chorus.
The reason most people have feigned interest in this record is the curiosity in their version of “Don’t Turn Around”, the 3rd song on the album. Interesting version which is unlike any other cover of the old R&B staple. Of course, Ace Of Base made it popular but EYES did it best!
“Young And Innocent” is a great feel-good tune about young, unrequited love with an absolute smokin’ melody. What a hook! “Nobody Said It Was Easy” is of course the big power ballad that is on all albums of the era. Just as good as any other ballad from the genre as it gets the lighters waving in the air. I feel if the album had sold well, this would have been the 2nd single/video.
The big surprise comes at the very end of the album. Not listed on the credits is an acapella tune that Soto wrote called “Somebody 2 Love” Channeling the soul of the late Sam Cooke, this song SMOKES!!! What an incredible ending to an incredible album.
To be frank, their are a few “filler” tunes that make up almost every album. I consider them to be that but I will admit that the tunes I consider filler on the EYES album are a cut above the rest. “Miss Demeanor”, “Walkin’ Fire”, “Wired 4 Love”, “Can’t Get Enough” & “Start Livin'” Would have been standout tracks on other bands albums but put up against the quality of the other tunes on this album they stand up.
Eyes is a classic forgotten “Hair Band” album. Soto fans are definitely going to want to hunt down a copy, and fans of the late 80’s and early 90’s rock scene should check it out as well, assuming you can find a copy. Speaking of which, this CD has been bootlegged in recent years, so be sure you’re getting the real thing when you’re asked to pay a “collectors” price for a copy.