Friday, July 12, 2013

Smash Palace (1985)

The New Jersey-based quintet called Smash Palace originally came from the same mid-‘80’s Philadelphia scene that hatched the Hooters and Robert Hazard. They were led by brothers Stephen and Brian Butler, who had previously played in an earlier new wave band called Quincy (aka Lulu Temple). In 1985, they appeared to be on the verge of gaining wider recognition when their self-titled Smash Palace album was released on Epic Records, and the video for their single “Living On The Borderline” gave them MTV exposure. Unfortunately, the album failed to take off commercially, and Smash Palace disappeared – until 14 years later. In 1999, the Butler brothers resurfaced in indie-land with a new Smash Palace lineup, and a new album called Fast, Long, Loud. And the band has continued to record during the years since then, releasing several more indie albums showcasing their respectable, mature brand of power pop. Brian Butler no longer performs live with the band, but he continues to be involved creatively.

What ever happened to that long-lost 1985 album released on Epic? The folks at that major label have probably forgotten about Smash Palace’s existence. The album was deleted decades ago, and has never been reissued.

Brian (lead vocals) and Stephen (guitar and vocals) co-wrote and co-arranged the album’s nine songs; they are also credited with co-producing the album with Tom Treumuth and Dick Wingate. These Butler brothers are not related to the Butler brothers (Richard and Tim) from the Psychedelic Furs, but the music on Smash Palace could lead someone to believe they were. Brian Butler’s lead vocals here bear more than passing resemblance to those of Richard Butler of the Furs, and the sound fits into the same basic mid-‘80’s new wave genre as the Mirror Moves-era Furs. But Smash Palace deserves to be regarded as more than just an album of its time period. The production and arrangements may date the album a bit; a then-fashionable keyboard sound is often present, even though no one is credited with playing the instrument. But these songs are rooted in a more timeless power pop tradition. Stephen’s ornate guitar effects (similar to those of U2's The Edge) help to distinguish the material, and also help to put an American spin on Smash Palace’s Anglo-influenced music. The lead-off track “Living On The Borderline” belongs on any essential collection of rock and roll songs from 1985; the rest of the tracks are also quite good, especially “Count The Days”, “Juliet To Me” and “No Love Lost”.


Smash Palace - Smash Palace

Smash Palace “Smash Palace” (Epic BFE 40075) 1985

Track Listing:

1. Living On The Borderline
2. Count The Days
3. Love Will Find A Way
4. Never Say No Again
5. Juliet To Me
6. No Love Lost
7. A Night To Remember
8. Pieces Of My Heart
9. Night Of A Thousand Faces


See also Quincy (aka Lulu Temple)

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