Another Listen To The Bliss Band

Originally posted August 20, 2008

A little more than a year ago, in the post that marked Vinyl Record Day 2007, I shared a track by a group called the Bliss Band, from its 1978 album, Dinner with Raoul. I knew very little about the band – there wasn’t a lot of information on the record jacket. Here’s some of what I wrote at the time:

“I’ve ripped the track ‘Rio’ from this 1978 album, which was produced by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter. Like the Faragher Brothers . . . the Bliss Band sounds to me a bit like Pablo Cruise or the Little River Band, both of which were hitting the charts about the time Dinner With Raoul was recorded. There’s a touch of Steely Dan in there, too.”

The touch of Steely Dan wasn’t surprising, of course, considering Baxter’s presence as guitarist as well as producer.

At the same time, a reader left a comment about the Bliss Band. I assume it was regular reader Yah Shure, or else I’ve got two regular readers who worked at WJON here in St. Cloud in the late 1970s (which is possible, I imagine). That reader said:

“I was a jock at WJON/St. Cloud when your #2000 album, The Bliss Band’s Dinner With Raoul, went into the station’s album cuts bin in 1978. ‘Slipaway’ quickly became the consensus cut. When the song was released as a single (Columbia 10857) it went as high as the ‘B’ rotation on WJON’s adult contemporary playlist. The single sold OK locally – I bought a copy of the 45 at Musicland in the Crossroads Center – but no other stations picked up on the song and it went away.

“‘Slipaway’ had a nice, Steely Dan-like vibe to it, with some tasty guitar licks in the break.”

A week or two later, I ripped the entire record, but I wasn’t pleased with the rip because of some noise on Side Two. So I shelved the idea of sharing the entire album. But not long ago, I found a rip of the record online that’s in better shape; it was posted in December 2006 at Gooder’n Bad Vinyl, a blog I visit fairly frequently. A track from the record popped up in a recent Baker’s Dozen, and then one came up last night as I was listening, reminding me that it’s actually a pretty good album.

I’m not sure if the record jacket listed the Bliss Band members, but it doesn’t matter anyway: the jacket is somewhere in a box right now and won’t emerge until sometime during the first week of next month. But the list of credits for Dinner With Raoul at All-Music Guide provides some clues as well as some interesting reading:

First of all, the members of the Tower of Power horn section – Stephen Kupka, Emilio Castillo, Greg Adams, Michael Gillette and Lenny Pickett – are listed there, as are Michael and Maureen McDonald and the late Doobie Brothers drummer, Keith Knudsen (all on vocals). Victor Feldman is listed as percussionist. Others listed on vocals are Venetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews. Alan Park plays keyboards.

And when you account for all those folks, the remaining people must be the members of the Bliss Band. They are: Paul Bliss on keyboards and vocals, Andrew Brown on bass and vocals, Nigel Elliot on drums and Phil Palmer on guitar and vocals.

(I’m sorry to be so imprecise, but with the records and much of my reference library packed, I fear that quite a few posts will be lacking in hard information for a week or so. If I’ve got anything wrong here, please let me know.)

The best track here might be the opener, “Rio,” although I do like “Slipaway” and “Right Place, Right Time” a fair amount. I still think the sound is very much akin to Pablo Cruise with some Steely Dan dissonance and chord changes. It’s a good album.

Tracks:
Rio
Over the Hill
Slipaway
Don’t Do Me Any Favors
On The Highway
Right Place, Right Time
Stay A Little Longer
Here Goes
Whatever Happened
Take It If You Need It

The Bliss Band – Dinner With Raoul [1978]

Coming Attraction
I don’t usually post on Sundays, but this coming Sunday will be an exception. My friend caithiseach, proprietor of The Great Vinyl Meltdown, has agreed to provide a Baker’s Dozen of his favorite singles. It’s an interesting – and very good – list that will provide some points to ponder as well as some very good music.

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