Artful Dodger


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972-73) as Brat

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion
- Gary Cox (RIP 2012) -- lead guitar
- Gary Herrewig -- rhythm guitar, backing vocals

- Rob Michael Inglis -- bass
- Billy
Paliselli -- vocals, harmonica

 

  line up 2 (1974-79) as Artful Dodger

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion

NEW - Steve Cooper -- bass, backing vocals (replaced 

  Rob Michael Inglis)
- Gary Cox (RIP 2012) -- lead guitar
- Gary Herrewig -- rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Billy
Paliselli -- vocals, harmonica

 

  line up 3 (1979-80)

NEW - Peter Bonita -- keyboards 

- Steve Brigida -- drums, percussion 
- Steve Cooper -- bass, backing vocals
- Gary Cox -- guitar 
- Gary Herrewig -- guitar, backing vocals 
- Billy
Paliselli -- vocals, harmonica

 

 

 

 

- Brat

- The Band of Steves (Steve Brigida and Steve Cooper)

- Gary Herrewig (solo efforts)

- The Rossilyn Mountain Boys (Steve Bonita)


 

Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Artful Dodger

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-33811

Year: 1975

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: re-glued along bottom

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price:  SOLD$20.00

 

Powered by vocalist Billy Paliselli and guitarist Gary Cox's affection for '60s rock, Artful Dodger stood as a mid-1970's band possessing all the skills required for major stardom. Unfortunately, in spite of support from a major label and several critically acclaimed collections of mainstream rock; the quartet's efforts were greeted by complete critical and public indifference.

 

Formed in Virginia, the original line-up featured bassist Steve Cooper, guitarists Gary Cox and Gary Herrewig, drummer Steve Grigida and vocalist Billy Pallisell.  Extensive touring won the band a mid-Atlantic and mid-Western audience, eventually capturing the attention of Columbia Records.

Teamed with producer Jack Douglas, 1975's "Artful Dodger" was nothing less than wonderful. Largely written by Herrewig and Pallisell (Cox contributing one track), material such as "Wayside", " You Know It's Alright" and "Think Think" offered up a mixture of Raspberries-styled guitar pop; albeit with a much tougher bite - imagine Eric Carmen with a nasty temper. Strong melodies, tight harmonies and chiming guitars ... mid-'70s power pop didn't get any better. Featuring at least six outstanding tracks, the album proved the band's artistic highpoint. 

"Artful Dodger" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Wayside (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:26
2.) You Know It's Alright (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:34
3.) It's Over (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:06
4.) Follow Me (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:44
5.) Long Time Away (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:38

(side 2)

1.) Think Think (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:56
2.) Silver and Gold (Gary Cox) - 3:23
3.) Things I'd Like to Do Again (Gary Herrewig - Paliselli) - 4:51
4.) Waiting Place (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:34
5.) New York City (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:05

 

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Honor Among Thieves

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34273

Year: 1976

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 6113

Price: $10.00

 

Given these guys were from Northern Virginia, I can clearly remember buying this one at my local record store/head shop (a Penguin Feather in Herndon, Virginia) and simply being knocked out by the album.  I must have played it every day for a month straight and know that I did my best to convince school friends that these guys were going to be the next big thing ...  Co-produced by Edward Leonetti and Jack Douglas, 1976's "Honor Among Thieves" was one of those classic mid-1970s rock albums that (in spite of my best efforts to promote it), somehow managed to slip through the cracks.  With guitarist Gary Herrewig and lead singer Billy Paliselli again responsible for the bulk of the nine tracks (lead guitarist Gary Cox contributed two songs), the sophomore set was slightly slicker and better produced than the debut collection.  It may not have had the overall freshness of the debut, but song for song it was as good as the first album with at least four of these tracks standing as lost FM radio classics.  Exemplified by songs like the title track, 'Not Enough' and 'Remember' these guys managed to effortlessly blend hard rock moves with great melodies, and a healthy dose of affection for English rock.  Powered by Paliselli's ragged voice, it was power pop with brains; the kind of stuff better known bands like The Raspberries would have killed for.  Unfortunately, in spite of some strong press reviews the set could do no better than # 208 on the US album charts.

 

"Honor Among Thieves" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Honor Among Thieves   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:14   rating: **** stars

To this day I can't understand how 'Honor Among Thieves' missed out providing the band with a massive commercial hit.  This was the kind of rocker that bands like Badfinger and The Raspberries would have gladly sacrificed their rhythm guitarists to have written.  Fantastic melody, pounding beat, great jangle guitars, and one of Billy Pallisell best vocals.  What wasn't to like ...

2.) Not Enough   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:00   rating: **** stars

Even though it had a slightly more pop orientation, 'Not Enough' was every but as good as the title track and would have made an equally impressive single.   This one also served to showcase the band's impressive harmony vocals.   

3.) Scream   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 5:42   rating: **** stars

'Scream' showcased the band's obvious affection for British rock a-la Badfinger.  A fantastic ballad, Eric Carmen would have killed to have written something this good which is probably why Columbia tapped it as a single.   

- 1976's 'Scream' (stereo) b/w 'Scream' (mono) (Columbia catalog number 3-10431).   YouTube has a concert performance of the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ctTgCvaQ_w&feature=related

4.) Keep a Knockin'   (Otis Blackwell) - 4:20    rating: *** stars

Slapping a heavy metal arrangement on top of Otis Blackwell's classic 'Keep a Knockin'' probably didn't sound like the year's most original decision and it wasn't ...   That said, propelled by Steve Cooper's deafening bass they managed to turn in a credible Zeppelin-esque take on the track.   

 

(side 2)

1.) Keep Me Happy   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42   rating: **** stars

At least to my ears  'Keep Me Happy' was another track with a distinctive British feel, to say nothing of another instantly attractive melody and one of Gary Cox's best lead guitar solos.   

2.) Remember   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:27   rating: **** stars

One of the album's standout performances, powered by Cox's jangle guitar and an amazing hook, 'Remember' had everything you'd expect of a hit single (not that it was).    

3.) Dandelion   (Gary Cox) - 4:16    rating: **** stars

Penned by lead guitarist Cox, the ballad 'Dandelion' took awhile to get going but redeemed itself with a classic chorus.  Easily one of the album's most impressive songs ...    

4.) Hey Boys   ( Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 2:56   rating: **** stars

Showcasing Cox and Herrewig on twin lead guitars, 'Hey Boys' was a taunt bar rocker and served as a great example of the band's ability to mix rock moves with more commercial touches.    

5.) Good Fun   (Gary Cox) - 4:15   rating: **** stars

With a distinctive Anglophile edge, Cox's second contribution to the collection  'Good Fun' could easily have been mistaken for a Badfinger track.  This one simply dripped top-40 commerciality and the unexpected doo wop moves were hysterical.   


 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Babes On Broadway

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-34846

Year: 1977

Country/State: Fairfax, Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original customer inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2792

Price: $20.00

 

Understandably frustrated that neither of their first two albums had sold well, 1977's "Babes On Broadway" found Artful Dodger making some minor changes in pursuit of commercial acceptance. Continuing their partnership with producer Edward Leonetti (Jack Douglas credited as executive producer), the band still boasted a formidable songwriting pool in lead guitarist Gary Cox, rhythm guitarist Gary Herrewig and singer Billy Paliselli. At least to my ears material such as the opener 'Can't Stop Pretending', 'Alright', the acoustic ballad 'Who in the World', and 'Wave Bye Bye' was as good as anything on the first two albums. Boasting the band's trademarked blend of gorgeous harmonies, chiming guitars and sweet melodies, mid-1970s rock simply didn't get much better. Less impressive, but perhaps more in keeping with popular tastes,  exemplified by tracks such as 'Mistake', 'Loretta' and a remake of Eddy Cochran's classic 'C'mon Everybody' much of the second side found an element of formula AOR orientation creeping into the formula. 

 

Sadly, the album matched their earlier sales and Columbia management quickly gave  the band their walking papers. 

"Babes On Broadway" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Can't Stop Pretending   (Gary Cox) - 3:51   rating: **** stars

If there was a mud-'70s band that deserved to have made it big time, then these guys would have been prime contenders.  'Can't Stop Pretending' was a near perfect slice of power pop - the kind of tune that Eric Carmen would have traded the rest of The Raspberries to have written.  Gary Cox's jangle guitar makes me smile every time I hear it.  Columbia tapped it as the leadoff single and you can only wonder how radio missed it:

- 1977's 'I Can't Stop Pretending' b/w 'Hey Boys' (Columbia catalog number 3-10603)
2.) Alright  (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:36  
rating: **** stars

I've always liked Paliselli's nasally voice and he seldom sounded as good as on the sneering 'Alright'.  

In case anyone cared, Aerosmith's Steve Tyler supposedly provided backing vocals on the tune.  If he's there, my ears simply weren't good enough to pick him out.   By the way, Steve Brigida's powerhouse drumming was the secret sauce on this one.  The video and sound quality are poor, but taken from a 1991 Legends of Rock tour, YouTube has a live performance of the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7aS2uKSfFk 
3.) Who in the World   (Gary Cox) - 4:45  
rating: **** stars

As exemplified by the power ballad 'Who In the World,', few mid-'70s American bands could trot out an English sound as well Artful Dodger.  Actually, the melody sounded like something The Bee Gees might have crafted. 
4.) Wave Bye Bye   (Gary Cox) - 3:27  
rating: **** stars

A song Cox supposedly wrote while in high school; 'Wave Bye Bye' captured the band at their most propulsive and poppiest.  With those glistening harmonies this was another tune that would have sounded sweet on top-40 radio.

5.) All I Need   (Gary Cox - Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

Okay, lyrically it wasn't going to win them any prizes, but even a throwaway bar band tune from these guys was worth hearing.   Paliselli in heat was 50 times more fun to hear than Steve Tyler playing the same card.

(side 2)

1.) Babes on Broadway   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:18   rating: **** stars

I always loved the unique sound Gary Cox coaxed out of his guitar - kind of a cutting, bell sound.  coupled with the band's knack for crafting insidiously catchy hooks, it didn't get much better than the title track.
2.) Mistake   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 4:08
   rating: **** stars

One of their prettiest songs - 'Mistake' was a ballad for rockers who don't like ballads.  Paliselli easily out shredded Steve Tyler's best efforts on this one
3.) Loretta   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:40  
rating: *** stars

'Loretta' was a nice slice of boogie rock worth hearing just for Steve Cooper's chugging bass line.
4.) Idi Amin Stomp   (Gary Cox - Steve Brigida - Steve Cooper) - 2:57  
rating: *** stars

Not quite sure I understand the title, but 'Idi Amin Stomp' was an okay bad band rocker.  Nice Cox solo, but kind of AOR anonymous.   

5.) C'mon Everybody  (Eddy Cochran - Jerry Capehart) - 2:56   rating: ** stars

Pedestrian cover of the Eddy Cochran classic.   I'm guessing it got better with a couple of cold beers.

 

 


10.) C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran - J. Capehart) - 2:56


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Rave On

Company: Ariola

Catalog: OL 1503

Year: 1980

Country/State: Fairfax Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5571

Price: $15.00

 

It only took three years and a line-up adjustment (the addition of keyboard player Peter Bonita), but in 1980 Artful Dodger's extended recording hiatus came to an end when they were signed by Ariola Records.  Recorded in Springfield, Virginia's Bias Studios 1980's self-produced "Rave On" didn't show any adverse effects from the layoff and served as a a partial creative comeback, coming close to the quality of their first two studio collections on about half of the tracks.  Like those original albums, on songs like 'It's a Lie' and 'Get In Line' the writing team of Gary Herrewig and Billy Paliselli managed to combine conventional rock and power pop moves into a highly commercial end product.  Palisell's classic rock voice remained in fine form and the band's vocal harmonies were enough to shame most of the competition.  On the single 'A Girl (La La La)' and a couple of other tunes Paliselli sounded a bit like Faces-era Rod Stewart.  Elsewhere imagine The Raspberries with rock aspirations rather than power pop tastes and you'd have a good feel for the record.  Unlike many AOR band, these guys even managed to make power ballads like 'So Afraid' and 'Forever' palatable.  Other highlights included the sparkling 'She's Just My Baby', 'I Don't Wanna See Her' and the country-flavored closer 'Gone Again'.  Unfortunately, in an era of rampant disco and new wave madness, pop-rock gems such as 'It's a Lie', 'Come Close To Me' and 'Now or Never Mind' attracted little attention from the buying public or radio stations.  Ariola's promotional support was also lackluster.  True the company tapped the album for a couple of singles, but in spite of some first-rate material to work with, were somehow unable to break the band.  

 

With sales peaking at # 209, the album quickly vanishing into cutout bins. Cox subsequently tendered his resignation with the rest of the band then calling it quits.  Shame it was their final album, but certainly an impressive way to shut down the franchise.

"Rave On" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) She's Just My Baby   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Palisell) - 2:42   rating: **** stars

I've always loved these guys when they amp up the power-pop quotient in their sound and that was seldom done as well as they should've been a massive hit 'She's My Girl'.  Kudos to Ariola for at least floating it as a single:

- 1980's  'She's My Baby' b/w 'Gone Again' (Ariola catalog number OS816)   

Taken from the Artful Dodger website, YouTube has a promotional video clip fo the song at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trux2hJoWqs  
2.) It's a Lie    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 3:48   rating: **** stars

Gary Cox's jangle rock guitar leads made it impossible to not love this Merseybeat-tinged rocker.  The video and sound quality are poor, but YouTube has a promotional video of the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ5ONc27RWY  
3.) So Afraid    (Gary Herrewig -
Billy Paliselli) - 4:47
4.) Get in Line    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 2:42   rating: **** stars

You had to wonder how late-'70s radio picked up on bands like The Knack, but ignored Artful Dodger. 'Get In Line' had everything needed for radio airplay (except radio airplay)/  Quality power-pop that puts Doug Fieger and company to shame. 
5.) Now or Never Mind    (Gary Herrewig - Billy
Paliselli) - 3:37  rating; *** stars

Kind of a pedestrian rocker that actually got better as it went along.   Again the sound and video quality are poor, but YouTube has a clip of the band as a Fisher House charity concerts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRIgI9IW2yc 

(side 2)

1.) Come Close to Me   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42  rating; *** stars

Powered by Gary Herrewig chiming guitar, 'Come Close To Me' offered up a nice slice of slightly new-wave tinged power-pop.  Skinny ties and all, YouTube has a performance from a 1980 performance at Cleveland's Agora Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjEpjyduNhs 
2.) I Don't Wanna See Her   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:15
   rating: **** stars

Not hard to imaginef Herrewig and Paliselli saying something along the lines of "hey guys, let's out Knack the Knack ..."   Brilliant slice of '80s power pop that should have stormed up the charts.
3.) Forever   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 5:05
   rating: **** stars

With Paliselli seemingly channeling a touch of Faces-era Rod Stewart, 'Forever was another nice addition to their catalog of sweet, radio-friendly ballads.  The song was also a nice spotlight for new keyboardist Bonita.
4.) A Girl (La La La)   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:42
   rating: **** stars

Geez, did I mistakenly put on a Faces album ?   Another tune where Paliselli seemed to be channeling classic Rod Stewart (plus the song included a touch of Ronnie Lane-styled mandolin).  One of their creative highpoints, the combination of Herrewig's muscular guitar riffs and the la-la-la choruses made this one instantly memorable.  Another missed opportunity to break the band nationally.  If I were in a cover band, I'd have this one in my repertoire.

- 1980's 'A Girl (La La La)' b/w 'I Don't Wanna See Her'  (Ariola catalog number OS815) 

I think their lip synching this one, but here's another promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eERZYhox110  
5.) Gone Again   (Gary Herrewig - Billy Paliselli) - 3:59
   rating: **** stars    

Totally unexpected and decades before if became a cool thing to do, 'Gone Again' found the band diving headlong into country-rock with a beautiful keyboard and pedal steel powered  ballad.   Easy to picture The Marshall Tucker Band, or some other Southern rock ensemble taking this one to chart success.

 

 

By the way, you'll have to register, but the band has a nice website presence at:

http://www.artfuldodgersite.com/

 

 


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