Andy Z & Leslie


Band members                             Related acts

- Andy Zwerling -- vocals, guitar

- Leslie Zwerling --- vocals, backing vocals

 

  supporting musicians: (1980)

- Louis Levin -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Bob Mack -- guitar, backing vocals

- Joe Quinde -- drums, percussion, guitar, backing vocals

- Paul Socolow -- bass, backing vocals

 

 

 

Andy Zwerling (Andy and Leslie Zwerling)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Opportunity Rocks (and Rolls)

Company: Snow Beach Inc.

Catalog: SN B 888
Year:
 1980

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 862

Price: $50.00

 

Released on his own Snow Beach Inc. label, "Opportunity Rocks (and Rolls)" marked Andy Zwerling's first album in nine years.  Self-produced and featuring all original material (Zwerling's reportedly recorded thousands of songs when not working as a lawyer), the collection was recorded with sister Leslie (hence the billing).  Musically the set was certainly more confident than 1971's "Spiders In the Night" (which may have had something to do with his life experiences over the decade that had passed).  Zwerling's voice certainly seemed to have deepened a bit over the years, but he remained incredibly enthusiastic and the consummate musical chameleon, effortlessly  gliding through a myriad of musical genres and styles - top-40 pop ('Stars Out Tonight'), jittery new-wave-ish pop ('Bye Bye One Hit Wonder), and conventional rock ('Talk About Susan')..   As before, Zwerling seemed to have taken the concept of turning seemingly random musings into songs to a new level.  Mind you it didn't always work (e.g. the '60s girls group-styled 'Girls Are Forever '), but eclectic tracks like 'Corporation', 'Rapid City' and 'She Never Married a Beatle' ensured there were enough successes to warrant the investment of time and effort.  Finally, while sister Leslie didn't get nearly as much credit, or face time (she handled lead on three of the twelve tracks), she was quite impressive throughout, exhibiting an attractive voice and the ability to blend her voice with Andy the way only siblings can.           

 

"Opportunity Rocks (and Rolls)" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Corporation   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:51

Andy's voice has gotten a bit deeper in the last decade, but judging by 'Corporate' his sense of enthusiasm and humor haven't changed.  A bouncy new-wave-ish pop tune applying business terms to the quest for love, it wasn't exactly Weird Al funny, but coming twenty years before the economy's collapse, the tune showed considerable foresight and the lyrics were more than enough to make you snicker.  Bob Mack also turned in a nice guitar solo..   rating: *** stars

2.) Love Is Hard   (Andy Zwerling) 3:24

On the ballad 'Love Is Hard' Zwerling's deep voice sounded a bit like Bill Medley which may, or may not be a good thing.  Loved the way Andy and Leslie traded off versus and blended their voices.   Nice jangle rock tune with kudos to guitarist Bob Mack.  rating: *** stars

3.) Always You   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:13

With Leslie handling lead vocals, 'Always You' was kind of a plodding pop ballad.   Leslie had a nice enough voice, but in this case she was burdened with a plodding and pedestrian melody.  rating: ** stars

4.) Rapid City   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:11

High school dreams ...   the song's pretty funny in capturing the joy and heartbreak of those four years in two minutes,   rating: **** stars

5.) Summer Songs   (Ady Zwerling) - 3:04

A breezy slice of '70s-styled top-40 pop, though Leslie's backing vocals were irritating this time around.   Could have been a hit if it had been released in 1976.   rating: *** stars

6.) Talk About Susan   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:48

'Talk About Susan' found Zwerling showing he could handle a '60s-tinged rocker.  The song also gave Bob Mack another opportunity to showcase his chops.  rating: **** stars

7.) Stars Out Tonight   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:37

'Stars Out Tonight ' was a pretty, keyboard-powered ballad with one of those refrains that wormed its way into you head and simply wouldn't leave you alone.   Extremely irritating ...   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Segue   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:23

Stylistically 'Seque' was hard to describe; mixing a reggae beat with some top notch rock guitar and nods to The Beach Boys.   I have no idea how it worked, but Andy somehow made this one of the more entertaining performances.  Why wasn't the song entitled 'Sequeway' ...    rating: **** stars

2.) Bye Bye One Hit Wonder   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:19

The opening shriek was needless, but otherwise 'Bye Bye One Hit Wonder' was the kind of power pop tune Eric Carmen would have given a pinky to have written and recorded.  Another irritatingly catchy melody with some cute 'airport' lyrics and Leslie's wonderful backing vocals.   Should have been a big hit for the pair.    rating: **** stars

3.) She Never Married a Beatle   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:27

So how many folks under 40 have a clue who Jane Asher was; let alone her relationship to The Beatles?  Great keyboard-powered, mid-tempo pop tune, but it certainly made you wonder about the Zwerling's social circle ...  rating: **** stars

4.) Girls Are Forever   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:43

The second tune featuring Leslie, 'Girls Are Forever' found the duo mining '60s girl group motiffs.  Derivative and not even that cute.   One of the isolated disappointments.   rating: ** stars

5.) I Still Love You    (Andy Zwerling) - 3:11

Painfully sincere ballad.  The title track refrain helped a little, but couldn't save the tune.  rating: ** satrs

6.) Somewhere Tonight    (Andy Zwerling) - 3:30

'Somewhere Tonight' ended the album with a likable, but slight anonymous bouncy '70-styled rocker.  Zwerling's growling vocals gave the song kind of a Warren Zevon vibe.    rating: *** stars

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Somewhere Near Pop Heaven

Catalog: C

Company: 
Year:
 2000

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

In 1999 Zwerling renewed a friendship with late night horror show television host/DJ John Zacherele.  Zacherele had been instrumental in introducing Zwerling to Richard Robinson which led to his signing with Kama Sutra.  A big Zacharele fan, the prolific Zwerling offered to write a song for the man.  Zacharele actually recorded the track - 'Overdrawn at the Blood Bank'.   The song subsequently ended up on a Zacharele fan club 'best of'' compilation that was sold via the internet.  Seeing an opportunity to use the net to get some of his material out to the public Zwerling pulled out his demo tapes and took them to Steve Young's Long Island-based Media Recording Studios in order to get them digitized (in case you were wondering, Young played guitar for The 1910 Fruitgum Company).  As it turned out the tapes were in extremely poor shape and in order to be salvaged had to be 'baked' before they could be digitized.  

 

     

Leslie and Andy Zwerling (based on the hair, I'm guessing its a mid-80s photo)

 

Credited to Andy Z. & Leslie, 2000's "Somewhere Near Pop Heaven" was  a 2 CD, 41 song compilation featuring Andy Zwerling originals recorded over a 13 year period.  Clocking in at almost two and a half hours the compilation included material from their earlier releases, plus a slew of previously unreleased tracks - Zwerling's reportedly written thousands and stashed away thousands of songs over the years.  The songs were recorded by a series of bands between 1973-86 with Andy and sister Leslie being the only constants.  Needless to say there's a mind numbing amount of material on the album.  The sound quality ranged from state-of-the-art studio recordings, to material that was apparently recorded on a tape recorder in the family living room (check out the six "living room tapes").  As mentioned in talking about Zwerling's earlier album, Andy didn't have what you'd technically call a great voice.  His baritone was loud and occasionally a bit on the shrill side - imagine Bill Medley on steroids …  The funny thing was that in spite of his technical limitations  the man sounded darn good on about two thirds of these tracks.  Sister Leslie was also featured on most of the material and handled leads on a couple of tracks ('Ready To be Committed' and 'Girls Are Forever').  Of the two she actually had the better voice.  That said, the two were at their best when harmonizing on their more pop-oriented tracks. 

 

The CD attracted some major league media attention, including a lengthy article by former Rolling Stone editor Ed Ward in the New York Times and an article by Rolling Stone contributor Dave Marsh.  Unfortunately, American sales were few, though internet sales somehow saw one of the tracks 'Someday Forever' go top-20 in Croatia !!!   Little bit of free promotion for the artist - you can buy a copy of the CD directly from them at:

 

http://www.opportunityrocks.com/index2.shtml

 

I'm not sure how the Zwerlings decided on the track lineup.  It wasn't based on recording chronology, or thematically.  So here’s a brief summary of the material.

1.) Two Hearts Ago   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:04

Showcasing a fantastic melody and pounding beat 'Two Hearts Ago' was a great slice of mid-1980s pop-rock. 
2.) Ready To Be Committed   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:33

One of the tracks showcasing Leslie on lead vocals, 'Ready To be Committed' had an funny lyric recalling something Julie Brown might have recorded.  Great harmony vocals from the pair made it one of the most commercial songs on the CD.

3.) Unmistakably Amy   (Andy Zwerling) - 5:31

A mid tempo ballad, 'Unmistakably Amy' was one of the songs that recalled something out of the Bill Medley catalog.  Decent melody, but also one of the songs where Zwerling's voice strained to handle the melody.

4.) Corporation   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:52

As mentioned previously Zwerling was a lawyer by profession and it showed on this brief slice of pop.  'Corporation" featured a cute lyric (some would find it cloying), coupled with a rocking 1950s tune.  I could see 10cc covering this one.  The tune previously appeared on the 1980 "Oppportunity Rocks" album.    rating: *** stars

5.) Love Is Hard   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:29

 'Love Is Hard' was a pretty, but forgettable ballad.  Nice guitar from Bob Mack saved it.  rating: *** stars
6.) Rock 'n' Roll Music   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:02

One of the earlier studio tracks, powered by some frantic drumming 'Rock 'n' Roll Music' featured an almost bubblegum feel.  Another highly commercial track, though the lyric a bit lightweight.

7.) Talk About Susan   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:51

One of the rare straight out rockers, 'Talk About Susan' could have been a great single.  Fantastic melody, nice harmony vocals and one of the best guitar solos on the collection (courtesy of Bob Mack) …  One of my picks for the top-5 songs on the compilation.

8.) Girls Are Forever   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:42

'Girls Are forever' was another Leslie solo lead with a pseudo-comedy lyric that could have been recorded by Julie Brown. 

9.) One O'Clock In the Morning   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:51

Recorded in 1974, 'One O'clock In the Morning' sounded like an outtake from Zwerling's debut. - it had the same teenage angst feel to it.  Not bad, but a little fey for my personal tastes.

 

 

"Somewhere Near Pop Heaven" track listing:

(CD 1)

1.) Two Hearts Ago   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:04

2.) Ready To Be Committed   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:33

3.) Unmistakably Amy   (Andy Zwerling) - 5:31

4.) Corporation   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:52

5.) Love Is Hard   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:29

6.) Rock 'n' Roll Music   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:02

7.) Talk About Susan   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:51

8.) Girls Are Forever   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:42

9.) One O'Clock In the Morning   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:51

10.) Somewhere Tonight   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:40

11.) I Still Love You   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:22

12.) Car and a Condo   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:57

13.) She Never Married a Beatle   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:32

14.) What Can I Do?   (Andy Zwerling) - 1:41

15.) Always You   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:08

16.) Safe From My Heart   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:17

17.) Oki   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:46

18.) Sweetest Dream   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:37

17.) TV Girls   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:18

18.) High School Girls   (Andy Zwerling) - 1:54

19.) Snow Beach   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:21

 

(CD 2)

1.) Someday Forever   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:56

2.) Simple   (Andy Zwerling) - 5:31

3.) Overdrawn at the Blood Bank    (Andy Zwerling) - 4:16

4.) Rockabilly Moon   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:12

5.) Summer Songs   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:06

6.) Beautiful Day   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:31

7.) I Saw Her Last Night   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:04

8.) Dreams Never Die   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:24

9.) Rapid City   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:12

10.) Segue   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:21

11.) I Start To Rhyme   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:49

12.) Bye Bye One Hit Wonder   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:19

13.) Stars Out Tonight   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:26

14.) Hey Honey   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:47

15.) Turn Off the Radio   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:44

16.) Don't Come Just To Go   (Andy Zwerling) - 3:55

17.) Summer of Love   (Andy Zwerling) - 4:59

18.) Play Irrigation   (Andy Zwerling) - 1:46

19.) Angel Woman   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:44

12,) Music Playing   (Andy Zwerling) - 2:30

 

 

 

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