Band members Related acts
- Russell DaShiell -- vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Doug Clifford -- drums
- Stu Cook - bass
- John Tanner -- keyboards
- The Beau Gentry
- Don Harrison Band
- I Spy
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5528
I saw this one at a yard sale and somehow connected the name with CCR. Turns out there is a connection, though it's one of those six degree of separation deals ...
Russell DaShiell's largely unknown, but over a professional career that's spanned some 40 years, as a hired gun guitarist he's played on hundreds of LPs. He's also been a member of numerous name bands including The Beau Gentrys, Crowfoot, and the Don Harrison Band.
DaShiell's official solo debut came as a result of the mid-1970s publicity surrounding The Don Harrison Band. Harrison and his cohorts generated significant attention in the music press and while neither of their two LPs did much commercially, they attracted enough attention to get DeShiell signed as a solo act by Epic.
Self-produced, 1978's "Elevator" found DaShiell working with former Don Harrison Band cohorts Doug Clifford and Stu Cook (the two having previously played with CCR). Ironically, while the hideous '70s-styled air brush cover prepared me for a collection of guitar wanking (always wanted to use that word in a review), that wasn't the case. Largely downplaying his guitar pyrotechnical abilities, instead DaShiell displayed an enjoyable knack for highly commercial pop-rock, He also displayed a surprisingly attractive voice that was almost chameleon-like in his ability to adapt to different musical idioms. Not intended as a criticism, but on material like the dreamy ballad 'In the Fire' he recalled Badfinger, or perhaps Emmit Rhodes. Yeah, nothing here was likely to change your outlook on life, but by the same token, tracks like 'Come On', 'Wild Party' and the bruising rocker 'Top of the World' were tuneful, occasionally boasting clever lyrics (check out the lyrics to 'A La Mode' or 'Electrical Wave of Sound' - (one suspects DaShiell's electrical engineer father would have been proud) and some nice arrangements. Yeah, the ballad '50th Century' was a little too far on the MOR side, but all told it was a pleasant and enjoyable surprise. Sadly Epic doesn't seem to have done much to promote or support the LP and it quickly disappeared into clearance bins.
"Elevator" track listing:
1.) Come On (Russell DaShiell) - 2:19 rating: ** stars
Unfortunately 'Come On' opened the album with one of the dullest rockers your could have imagined. This one sounded like it had been stitched together by lifting the ingredients from a mid-'70s top-40 list.
2.) Electrical Wave of Sound (Russell DaShiell) - 2:50 rating: **** stars
With kind of Electric Light Orchestra pop flavor and a catchy refrain, 'Electrical Wave of Sound' was a step in the right direction.
3.) Wild Party (Russell DaShiell) - 2:37
Hum, hearing DaShiell trying to toughen up his sound was a mixed success. The guitar effects were somewhat cluttered, but nice enough. Shame the lyrics were sophomoric and simply dull. For some off reason the song was released as a Dutch single:
- 1978's 'Wild Party' b/w 'Come On' (Epic catalog number EPC 6102)
4.) In the Fire (Russell DaShiell) - 4:07 rating: **** stars
The first couple of times this ballad just sort of sailed past me. It seemed nice enough, but kind of formulaic. And unexpectedly I work up to discover this tune was great. Yeah, it remains somewhat formulaic, but the tune opened up with tasty backwards guitar and the refrain is killer. easy to understand why Epic tapped it as a promotional single, though they didn't seem to promote it:
- 1977's 'In the Fire' b/w 'Dreamer' (Epic catalog number 8-50553)
5.) Top of the World (Russell DaShiell) - 3:37 rating: **** stars
'Top of the World' showcased a catchy, slinky rock melody and some tasty slide guitar that's always reminded me of the gizmo effect on a bunch of 10 C.C. albums. Should have been tapped as a single.
The opening chords have always reminded me of something out of the Boston catalog, but then 'Direction' went off into faceless AOR ... bland background music. rating: ** stars
2.) A La Mode (Russell DaShiell) - 3:28 rating: **** stars
DaShiell was at his best when playing to his talents - namely straight ahead rock and roll such as the slinky 'A La Mode'. Mindless fun and a riff that won't leave you alone.
3.) Dreamer (Russell DaShiell) - 3:38 rating: **** stars
The mid-tempo ballad 'Dreamer' was nice given it offered DaShiell a chance to showcase his attractive voice on a pretty country-rock tinged melody..
4.) Oh My Wild Love (Russell DaShiell) - 4:01 rating: *** stars
Anyone for a game of spot-the-influence? Maybe it's just my ears, but the opening section of 'Oh My Wild Love' has always reminded me of The Beatles' 'Come On'. One of my favorite performances on the album.
5.) 50th Century (Russell DaShiell) - 3:31 rating: ** stars
Getting overly earnest usually doesn't help and artist and that's the case on '50th Century'. Sure, the song was mildly pretty, but once again DaShiell's lyrics left you struggling to let the record reach the end.
DaShiell's subsequent recording career is a little sporadic. There's a one-shot 45 under the moniker I Spy. In the mid-1990s he briefly reformed Crowfoot, releasing self-financed EP. He worked in television scoring and doing editing. He also worked in advertising. In 2000 he returned to Hawaii (where he'd grown up). A couple of years later he returned to California where he's continued to write and release a couple of solo projects including an instrumental set "Island Life" and a concept piece that was adapted for an animated film "Foreverland Forest".
He has a small but interesting website at: http://www.spiritguitar.com/
By 1971, DaShiell had relocated to the Los Angeles area, where he worked as a backup musician to Phil Everly, Danny O'Keefe, and Bo Diddley, and did sessions, notably appearing on John Sebastian's album Tarzana Kid (1974) and former Creedence Clearwater Revival member Tom Fogerty's Myopia (1975). The Fogerty album also featured the former Creedence rhythm section of bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford, and DaShiell joined with them and singer Don Harrison to form the Don Harrison Band. The group signed to Atlantic and released a self-titled album in April 1976 that made the charts, followed by a second album, Red Hot, in January 1977, by which time they had disbanded. DaShiell, however, got a contract as a solo artist with Epic Records, leading to the release of his debut solo album, Elevator, in March 1978.
DaShiell was involved in various musical projects during the 1980s, including a single under the name I Spy released in the Scandinavian countries on Sonet Records. Toward the end of the decade, he began working in television, composing music and doing audio editing, notably for the series In Living Color. He quit TV in the early '90s and re-formed the original Crowfoot lineup with Killmer and Jaeger for an EP called Messenger that he released on his own label, Aerial View, in 1994. He kept writing and recording his own music while also working for advertising agencies during the rest of the ‘90s. Late in the decade he began working on a concept called Foreverland Forest, first intended as a CD-ROM, then as a book with music, and finally as an animated feature film. In 2000, he moved back to Hawaii, where he continued working on Foreverland Forest and a new instrumental solo album, Island Life. By the mid-2000s, he was back in California with his own website, spiritguitar.com, planning to market both Island Life and an album of songs from Foreverland Forest online. The digital albums Island Life and It's a Lonely Life became available as downloads later in the decade. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
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