Amesbury, Bill


Band members               Related acts

- Bill Amesbury -- vocals, guitar

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Jus' a Taste of the Kid

Company: Casablanca

Catalog: NB 9004

Year: 1974

Country/State: Larder Lake, Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5030

Price: $10.00

 

Well here's another one that took me by surprise ...  I picked this one up at a yard sale and remembering thinking 'prissy looking guy and he's signed to Casablanca - must be disco crap'.  I actually put it back and only had second thoughts due to the fact records were going for 25 cents a pop.

 

Turns out I was right about the prissy comment (more about that later), but I was way off on the man's disco orientation.  Turns out Amesbury was actually quite a talented singer/songwriter who to his credit was a poor musical fit for Neil Bogart's Casablanca Records.  

 

After kicking around Toronto's music scene for a couple of years he scored a contract with the Bill Gilliland's Yorkville label, releasing a string of singles including the Canadian top-20 hit 'Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)' b/w 'That Close To Me Again' (Yorkville/ARC catalog number YVM-45100

 

Amesbury's Canadian successes caught the attention of Neil Bogart who had recently started Casablanca Records.  While Kiss became the first act signed to the label, Amesbury became the first act to release a record on the label - in this case a reissue of 'Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)' b/w 'That Close To Me' (Casablanca catalog number NEB-0001).

 

With the single hitting the US top-100 charts Casablanca opted to release a supporting album.  Self-produced, 1974's cleverly-titled "Bill Amesbury" served as sort of a compilation, pulling together his earlier Yorkville catalog with a couple of new efforts.  Judging by these twelve songs Amesbury had a nifty voice that was exceptionally versatile, allowing him to tackle a wide variety of styles and genres.  As an example, 'On the Matter of Direction' sported a blues feel, 'Once Before You're Gone' found him dabbling in C&W,  while 'Billy's Song' sounded like something out of the Loggins and Messina catalog.  Sure, not the most original album you'll ever buy, but much better than the usual singer/songwriter crapola out there.  In spite of the crappy orchestration, highlights included the leadoff 'Rock My Roll' (he actually seems to sing 'rock me roll'), the Caribbean flavored 'That Close To Me' and the pretty ballad 'Sailin' (not the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver song).

 

"Jus' a Taste of the Kid" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rock My Roll   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:59

2.) On the Matter of Direction   (Bill Amesbury) - 1:16

3.) That Close To Me   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:57

4.) I Ever Had   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:43             
5.) Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:45

6.) Sailin'   (Bill Amesbury) - 4:20

 

(side 2)
1.) Billy's Song   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:42

2.) She's In Love   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:22

3.) Once Before You're Gone   (Bill Amesbury) - 2:31

4.) Justin   (Bill Amesbury) - 3:03

5.) Lakehead   (Bill Amesbury) - 3:15

6.) Goin' Home   (Bill Amesbury) - 0:25

 

Though I've never heard it, there's a second LP on Capitol (1977's "Can You Feel It"). 

 

Here's where it gets kind of interesting.  In the early 1980s Amesbury underwent transgender surgery, resuming life as Barbara Amesbury.  Dropping out of the music scene, she focused her attention on various social issues and along with partner Joan Chalmers has become a major Toronto-based patron of the arts.  Among other things, in the mid-1990s they commissioned a show entitled "Survivors, In Search of a Voice, The Art of Courage".

 

 

 

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