Mychael


Band members                          Related acts

- Robert Delagarza -- keyboards (1978)

- Greg Dotsin -- drums, percussion (1978)

- Tommy Gilstrap -- bass (1978)

- James Gorin -- bass, backing vocals (1978)

- Gary Lunn -- bass (1978)

- Marcus Mitchell -- keyboards (1978)

- Mychael (aka Myke Jackson) -- vocals, lead guitar, bass,

  keyboards (1978)

- Jay Patton -- sax (1978)

 

 

 

Felt (Mychael and Tommy Gilstrap)

- Myke Jackson

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Neon Dreams

Company: Free Flight/RCA Victor

Catalog: AHL1-3400

Year: 1978

Country/State: Arab, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring wear; demo stamp on back cover; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5336

Price: $20.00

 

To be perfectly honest, this LP would have been completely unknown to me were it not for an email sent to me by a gentleman by the name of Tommy Gilstrap.  Tommy was a member of the Alabama-based group Felt.  He happened across my review of that band's highly collectable LP and was nice enough to provide extensive details on the group.  He also provided some details on what the three band members had done following Felt's collapse.  Here's what he had to say with respect to band leader Myke Jackson:

 

A month or so after we finished recording the [Felt] album, Myke was busted with a ounce of pot in his pocket. Being 17 years old and in the state of Alabama in 1970 that got him 6 months in the state reform school. 

When Myke got out he was going in a different direction philosophically and decided to pursue a career in Christian music, effectively dissolving Felt.   Myke gave me a call out of the blue in 1978 from Nashville asking me to join his new group. He had just been signed to Free Flight, RCA's new Nashville "rock" label. His new album was almost finished but I got there in time to play on 3 tracks. The album was titled "Mychael" and was produced by Cliff Williamson and Mychael for Tree Productions, AHL1-3400 Free Flight. I have one promo copy and have not been able to locate any other copies.  The last time I saw Myke he was a licensed Baptist preacher at a church in Arab with a wife and kids and still recording his own Christian rock. 

 

Keepin' it low, 

Tommy Gilstrap

November, 2007

 

Not a big deal, but the LP was actually entitled "Neon Dreams" and RCA executives apparently decided that Myke wasn't exotic enough so the LP was released credited to 'Mychael'.  Those same executives also seem to have decided that Jackson needed to abandon his Alabama rock roots in favor of a more upscale  pseudo-glam look.  Nice heels on those white shoes ...  You actually can find copies without too much effort, though every one I've seen has been a promo copy (lending credence to Tommy Gilstrap's earlier comments).

 

So what's this thing actually sound like?   Perhaps due to the fact I'm a big fan of the Felt LP, the first couple of times I played the LP it just didn't do much for me.  Blame co-producer Cliff Williamson for pushing the album into a highly polished AOR arena at the expense of originality.  Blame Mychael for letting people push him there.  Yeah, I know - easy for me to criticize anyone.  But guess what?  Having put the LP aside for a couple of months with the intention of ditching it, for some reason I decided to give it another spin.  Maybe because I'd gotten over those earlier preconceptions, I was surprised to discover the LP was far better than I recalled.  Yeah, it remained a million miles away from Jackson's Felt roots, but there was actually plenty to like here.  Jackson remained a first rate rock guitarist - check out his work on 'Stay'.  He also had one of those chameleon-like voices that was perfectly suited for radio play.  Moreover the album certainly wasn't hurt by Jackson's knack for penning rock material that retained a distinctive commercial edge - how could radio have overlooked material that was as insidiously  addictive as 'Stay', or  'Crossfire'.  The side 2 ballads were a bit of a letdown, but even the pretentiously titled extended suite 'The Life Sonata (A Composition for Rock Guitar Orchestra)' was worth hearing a couple of times.  The funny thing is that this was every bit as good (if not better) than hair band releases that were burning up the late-1970s charts.  This versus an Angel LP?  Give me this one every time ...  Shame Jackson got trapped in a major label money making scam since the LP could have actually done well with a bit of promotional support.

 

I can't even begin to understand the economics of such a move, but Free Flight also seems to have released a promo-only single 'Neon Dreams' b/w 'Stay' (Free Flight catalog number PB-11475).

 

  

 

"Neon Dreams" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Neon Dreams   (Mychael) - 4:50

2.) Stay   (Mychael) - 

3.) Hard Work   (Mychael) - 3:42

4.) Crossfire   (Mychael) - 3:26

5.) Cloud High   (Mychael) - 3:23

 

(side 2)
1.) You, We   (Mychael) - 3:14

2.) Love Me One More Day   (Mychael) - 4:19

3.) The Life Sonata (A composition for Rock Guitar Orchestra)   (Mychael) - 

     I.) I Breathless (instrumental)   (Mychael) - 3:54

     II.) Twilight Melody (instrumental)   (Mychael) - 3:18

     III.) A New Beginning   (Mychael) - 4:21

 

And thanks to the man himself for some additional insight in the album and the band:

 

 

The label in fact was not a write-off, but their original budget of $million was reduced mid-stream to $500,000.  At this point, RCA/Free Flight had signed 11 acts for singles and 4 acts for albums.  The cut the roster dramatically, and only two acts got album releases, me and FCC.  My single, "Stay" was released in Feb. 1979, and the album "Neon Dreams" was released in May 1979.  We did a brief tour that summer, about 22 or 23 shows, I think.  We headlined the first "One For The Sun" event of '79, sponsored by KDF, and I received an award from Governor Lamar Alexander.  In a later show in Columbia, SC we out-sold Cheap Trick at the Township Auditorium, headlining our own show sponsored by DJ Jim Squire.  We actually sold close to 20,000 records in the final count...not near enough to pay for the budget, of course.  We needed to sell 100,000 to break even...

 
My single did not chart, however, the B side, "Neon Dreams," was a local hit in San Francisco, receiving air-play for ten weeks.  The album was also heavily played in Tokyo, Japan and is still being played currently.  "Stay" is used on a TV show in England, and various other tracks are still played in Europe, kind of all over.  Occasionally you can find the album on Ebay...I bought a couple just for me... : )
 
The road band for Mychael:
 
Greg Dotson - Drums
James Gorin - Bass & Vocals
Sam Hankins - Guitar & Vocals
B. James Lowery - Guitar
Jim Sheridan - Guitar, Keys, & Vocals
 
Undoubtedly one of the best bands I ever worked with...a guitar tour de force...the beginning of Guitorchestra (tm)
 
check out:
 www.myspace.com/guitorchestra
 
Blessings,
 
Mychael John Thomas

October 2008

 

 

 

 

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