Nick Gilder - Frequency - 1979
This was quite a find! Bought this for 50 Cents with a Rinks 20 Cent stickier left on although I think there was some Woolworth’s sticker elsewhere on the plastic.
Following up on his great City Nights album (the one with the classic Power Pop hit “Hot Child in the City”), Gilder and Guitarist James McCullouch whipped up a batch of catchy songs with the emphasis on moving the music into a more Synth-based world although sadly hardly anyone really bought it at the time. Today, fans have usually cited this as his finest album out of his first three, provingthat this was a bit ahead of it’s time. There’s a major hook in every song and the Production is very sharp and stylish, and I’m still wondering if some may consider this to be pretty much ahead of it’s time. There are moments that echo the Cars (“Electric Love”) and times when the Guitars seriously kick in with a riff, but maybe when it was released back in ‘79, this may have been too Pop for the Rock crowd (he was already established with AM Radio by then) and too Rock for a Pop Radio scene that was cooling it’s heels after some years of excitement (keep in mind, Top 40 by 1980 usually favored soft sounds despite a few great moments here and there - think Christopher Cross, Bob Seger’s Against the Wind…you know what I mean).
The Producer on this, Peter Coleman, was a smart choice for this album as he worked with the legendary Chinnchap team, working his way through being an Engineer on songs by singers like Suzi Quatro and Mud (“Tiger Feet” was their big UK hit…did hardly anything in The US) and moving into Production by the Late 70’s. He also helped on an album that I saw as the more Rock-based competitor to this album, the Knack’s Get the Knack, which was an easy fir to “AOR” radio at that time with it’s lack of modernism and massive hooks. Still, with Gilder’s more Pop based style, there was more room to add in some Synth hooks that really stuck in.
“Time After Time” and “Metro Jets” continue the Sunset Strip world of “Hot Child in the City” with sounds that would have fitted the 80 New Wave scene better, and in fact Toni Basil covered the first song for her debut album while the other was covered by Magnus Uggla in 1980. In a way, his success with others covering his songs would pave the way for a more successful career as a songwriter that had it’s height with Scandal’s “The Warrior.” Gilder’s songs had everything in the right place, but ‘80 to ‘81 proved to be a tough time for a lot of the Power Pop brigade, but thankfully he had the smarts to move on with his songwriting. Knowing that his songs were also covered by the likes of singers like Pat Bennatar was a major hint.
The lead off single, “You Really Rock Me” starts things off fine, but live performances have proven that the production on the lead off single was very thin for a full impact, filled with cheesy synths instead of a serious band sound. Thankfully, this was corrected by the next song. The Rush-like “Watcher of the Night” (of course without the ultra-complex lyrics and Neil Pert Drumming) and the ultra-long “Hold On Me Tonight” clocking in at 6 Minutes showed Side Two to be more ambitious, and succeeding. The finale, “Into the 80’s,” was one of the many songs that looked forward to the next decade, although this one was more fitting than most with it’s light Synth hooks and hopeful thinking.
Frequency hinted at a lot of what would happen in The 80’s, but with chart positions documenting a downturn of sales from his previous album suggested that the buyers and radio stations were not ready…yet.
Those interested in the Hip Alternative Pop sounds that look back to that time should check this out!