Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-77)
- Kurt Shore -- vocals, keyboards
- Jim Stanton -- vocals, percussion, keyboards
supporting musicians (1972)
- Bear -- ???
- Chris Kee -- cello, bass
- Mark Phillips -- guitar, bass
- Glenn Woods -- lead guitar
- Forty Stories (Kurt Shore)
- Kurt Shore (solo efforts)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Company: Cold Studio
Country/State: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: second pressing (1974); includes lyric insert
Catalog ID: 4514
Here's another one of those obscurities that's difficult to track down and equally difficult to accurately describe. Interestingly I've seen reviews that label the LP everything from "psychedelic masterpiece" to comparing it to The Beatles and Badfinger. I'd argue neither description hits the spot.
Kurt Shore was from the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Shore had been working in music since he was a teenager, going as far as setting up his own home studio. His partner in Dialogue was Jim Stanton who had a background that included drumming for a variety of big bands including a stint as drummer for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Working under the name Dialogue, in 1972 the pair were signed by the ABC/Dunhill affiliated New London label.
Shore and Stanton recorded their 1972 debut "Dialogue" in Homewood, Alabama's New London Studios. Co-produced by Rick Matos, Shore and Stanton, the album featured an interesting mixture of polished commercially-oriented ballads and more experimental material. Shore was credited with writing all eleven tracks with Stanton providing the arrangements. Tracks like 'Think, Father, Think', 'I'm Not Coming Home' and 'I Came So Near' were good examples of the pair's, stark and highly personal narratives. Exemplified by the Brian Wilson-styled 'It Scares Me So' and the Crosby and Nash-styled 'Jim and His Friend' the melodies were pretty, as were their harmonies, but the subject matter could be very depressing !!! Those pretty melodies and the pair's gorgeous harmony work meant the overall effect was more "sunshine pop" than psych. Again, I didn't really hear much in the way of psych, or Beatles, but I did hear Beach Boys influences on songs like the closer 'On Every Shore'. That did nothing to diminish the album's appeal to my ears. Admittedly he set certainly was not perfect. An occasional rocker would have been nice and 'Sandbox' was simply disturbing.
Unfortunately for the duo New London folded. Jamie Records acquired rights to the song 'Think, Father. Think', releasing it as a dead-on-arrival single. The pair continued to perform touring the college circuit with an early version of a multi-media performance for the next three years. I happened to fund an online review of a April 1976 show at Vassar College. The review described Dialogue as "a musical - comedy duo" and their show even included a Carpenters routine ... Judging by these eleven songs, the comedy component did not make the transition to their album. The pair called it quits in 1977.
There are at least three versions of the LP; the 1972 original that doesn't mentioned Cold Studio, and a pair of 1974 pressings, one without an address on the back, the other with. The duo seemingly figured out an address was helpful in case someone wanted to get in touch, or order copies of the album.
"Dialogue" track listing:
1.) Think, Father, Think (Kurt Shore) - 3:56 rating: **** stars
The opener 'Think, Father, Think' underscored the pair's knack for sweet melodies and nicely blended vocals. The lyrics were a bit on the navel-gazing side, coupled with a touch of McCartney/Badfinger influence, but it was all blended with a bit of a jazzy vibe. The results were quite commercial in an oddball way and a nice way to start the album. Curiously the song was released as a single on the Jamie label:
- 1974's 'Think, Father, Think' b/w 'TAslon the Lion' (Jamie catalog number 1420)
2.) Aslon the Lion (Kurt Shore) - 2:44 rating: *** stars
I'm not a big fan of fantasy so a song that's seemingly inspired by C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" was going to have a hard time winning me over. 'Aslon the Lion' was pretty enough but the goofy lyrics just didn't score with me. For some reason I thought the character's name was actually Aslan ...
3.) I'm Not Coming Home (Kurt Shore) - 2:57 rating: ** stars
'I'm Not Coming Home' was an acoustic singer/songwriter tune that was too precious for my tastes.
4.) Tell Me Mother (Kurt Shore) - 2:11 rating: ** stars
Wow, if you thought there was some uncomfortable stuff going on with the opener, 'Tell Me Mother' was going to make you really shift in your seat. This one sounded like something that had been written for an off-Broadway stage show. That's not a good thing in my book.
5.) Back In the Cold (Kurt Shore) - 3:18 rating: *** stars
'Back In the Cold' was a stark and major depressing keyboard driven ballad. Shore had lead and was joined by Stanton on harmonies. Just be warned this wasn't a get-up-and-dance performance.
1.) It Scares Me So (Kurt Shore) - 2:45 rating: **** stars
Another pretty ballad but the song structure and vocals have always reminded me of a Brian Wilson solo effort. The song also exhibits a weird, almost paranoid component when you hear the title repeated time after time.
2.) You've Got Your Nerve (Kurt Shore) - 2:40 rating: **** stars
'You've Got Your Nerve' was a good example where it sounded like Shore had taken a really nice pop melody and run it through a meat grinder giving it a dark, twisted feel. Glenn Woods' slashing and discordant lead guitar added to the feel of unease.
3.) Jim and His Friend (Kurt Shore) - 2:00 rating: *** stars
I really didn't think much of the acoustic ballad 'Jim and His Friend' but it showcased the pair's nice harmonizing. Kind of a Crosby and Nash vibe going on here.
4.) I Came So Near (Kurt Shore) - 3:10 rating: *** stars
Yeah, this was not the tune you were going to put on to get the party started. maybe the song to close the party down ... Again, very pretty and the church-styled harmonies recalled something off a Crosby and Nash album.
5.) Sandbox (Kurt Shore) - 2:00 rating: * star
I love harpsichord, but 'Sandbox' was just appalling. I have no idea what was going on here - Shore trying to sound like four year old girl was deeply disturbing.
6.) On Every Shore (Kurt Shore) - 2:58 rating: **** stars
The album closed with another Beach Boy-ish tune. I'm a big Beach Bys fan so anyone influenced by their catalog is liable to get my nod of appreciation. Once again Short and Stanton managed to nail Brian Wilson's instantly recognizable sound. Beautiful performance.
After the break-up Shore opened up Kajem Studios, writing and producing with a focus on working with Philadelphia-based acts including Cinderella and Pretty Poison. He continued to write material including commercial ads, eventually joining the Philadelphia-based advertising firm of D4 Creative Group.
Stanton turned his attention to writing. He wrote the play Chatoyant; composed and scored a version of Shakespeare's The Tempest and in the 1980s started to write political articles for Philadelphia and international publications.
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