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Chemay, Joe (Band) - 1981 The Riper The Finer
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on February 10 2006, In 1981 Articles , 6 Comments , 3230 Reads , Print

ARTIST: Chemay, Joe (Band)
ALBUM: The Riper The Finer
LABEL: MCA/Unicorn
SERIAL: 9501
YEAR: 1981


LINEUP: Joe Chemay - bass, vocals * John Hobbs - keyboards * Billy Walker - guitars * Mike Meros - organ * Paul Leim - drums, percussion * Louis Conte - percussion * Maxine Waters, Julia Waters - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bad Enough * 02 Proud * 03 Once In A Life * 04 A Fine Line * 05 You Saw Me Coming * 06 Love Is A Crazy Feeling * 07 Holy Thunder * 08 One Needs Another * 09 Never Gonna Let You Go

Here's another compulsory listen for fans of West Coast music. Again, like the recently reviewed Frankie Bleu, bassist and singer Joe Chemay is made from the same stock. In the music industry, Joe is fairly well-known around the circuit. He has recorded with many of the greats. You can see his name scattered in lights eveywhere across the Internet, featured on albums by a virtual who's who in the industry. One of those was an outfit called Toby Beau, a lightweight west-cost/pop outfit which also featured guitarist and musical associate Billy Walker.. While busy recording on many studio dates throughout the 70's, Joe also managed to find time to form his own band. They hooked a deal with MCA subsidiary Unicorn Records, the resultant album 'The Riper The Finer' finding its way to audiences in Japan and America during the early part of 1981. Musically the album is quite funky, no doubt due to Joe's popping bass-style. Joe and the band manage to keep it melodic all the way through, in the vein of Lee Ritenour, Toto, Ambrosia, Pablo Cruise and Gino Vanelli. As a result, 'The Riper The Finer' is a long overdue addition to the halls of GLORY-DAZE.

The Songs
Opening up with ' Bad Enough', the song features a welcoming vocal hook, plenty of bass-popping, and strong vocal harmonies. Even more impressive is the album single 'Proud', which got to #68 on the Billboard charts. The song is carried by a simple but magic chorus. 'Once In A Life' is very understated on the verses, like a laid back Greg Guidry but comes alive with a vibrant chorus. 'A Fine Line' takes us into AOR territory, with bubbly musicianship, staccato keys and vocal pirouettes everywhere. John O'Banion is our reference point with the highly entertaining 'You Saw Me Coming', while the upbeat and energetic 'Love Is A Crazy Feeling' highlights the backing vocals of the Waters sisters. 'Holy Thunder' is perhaps the weakest track here, but the closing pair of 'One Needs Another' and 'Never Gonna Let You Go' keeps the west coast flavour alive with a burst of funky rhythms added to the recipe.

In Summary
This is the only solo album that Joe has released to date. Perhaps another is due around the corner? Who knows. The following year in 1982 Joe and his band contributed to the equally excellent Frankie Bleu album 'Who's Foolin' Who', again on the same Unicorn label. It comes as no surprise that Joe has quite a fan base in Japan, though his work with many of the popular artists over the last twenty years will see his name crop up often on album credits everywhere. 'The Riper The Finer' finally saw a CD release in 2002. A long awaited event for West Coast fans in particular. Hopefully it won't be too rare now, a quick check on the GEMM website will throw up a few bargains your way.

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#1 | englandashes on March 20 2009 11:41:30
No comments posted on this review??? Must be one of the finest(!) westcoast albums ever!. Proud is an excellent tune.
#2 | gerard on November 03 2012 09:54:39
Love this album! Great singer. Joe Chemay, Jon Joyce, Stan Farber, Jim Haas...great vocalists (also featured on David Roberts's 'All dressed up' and many, many other albums). Anybody have any info on them and what happened to them...?
#3 | swazi on November 03 2012 21:39:48
Unfortunately this CD is extremely hard to get and very expensive. I have been looking for one for quite some time now. Anyone have any idea ?
#4 | Eric on November 04 2012 00:33:11
I have it on disc-different cover than above. Never play it.
#5 | swazi on November 04 2012 21:22:11
Hmmm ..., now that makes me wonder ......... ! hmm!
#6 | code4 on October 26 2015 05:25:24
As is common, the japan version had a different cover back in the day and the cd re-issue (which was Japanese only) kept the Japan cover (although it did print the usa front cover seen above on the reverse of the booklet).
The cd is a little pricey/hard to find now as it went out of print in latter 2000's. It is quite an unusual album with it's stylistic meldings. You have country music vibes in "Holy Thunder" (which features nice warm modulated semi acoustic sounding guitar in the verses, but a bit of dated chorus) and "A Fine Line" which goes as far as to turn into some sort of weird funk sort of song for the chorus. Same is the case with "One Needs Another" which is a pop-rock song very much reminiscent of the Frankie Bleu album joe produced a year later, however get to the chorus and it switches into a funk type of thing. High marks for making a unique album i suppose. Nothing is really the pure westcoast sound, though the excellent "Once in a life" comes close (another interesting song in the way it is structured). The upbeat "You Saw me coming" has tropical flavours to it. "Love is a crazy feeling" has great backing vocals from The Waters duo (as do many songs on this album) as well as from Joe himself. And yes i agree "Pride" is excellent, particularly that break part with the haunting background vocals and short but thrilling burst of overdriven guitar. I liked this album but at the same time i can easily see how only 1 in every 2 AOR fans would. Definitely one i would recommend listening to first rather than just buying blind (but then that's something you should do with every album as to not waste money).
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