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MP3 Allan Thomas - The Island

This long-time singer/songwriter takes you on a musical journey into his world of blues, jazz, R&B and rock, where songs about despair, hope, and affairs of the heart and otherwise rub shoulders with songs about islands, windsurfing, and sleek cars.

10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, BLUES: Blues-Rock

If you like a blend of rock, blues, jazz and soul, this recording might just be for you. If you love the music of Steely Dan, Crosby Stills and Nash, Sting, Boz Scaggs, and James Taylor, you''ll love Allan Thomas.

The songs were written on Kauai, in Nashville, and LA, and recorded mainly live at A&M and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.

The record was produced and mixed by Stephen Barncard who has had a hand in many classic albums including works by Crosby Stills & Nash, Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers, and the Grateful Dead to name but a few.

The album features a superb cast of players including the gifted keyboard/pianist Michael Ruff, whose presence on the recording adds, and brings out of the band, unexpected improvisational twists and turns. Ruff has written songs for Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Cole, and played keyboards for Ricky Lee Jones, David Sandborn, John Lee Hooker, and Chaka Kahn.

Russell Ferrante of the Grammy award-winning jazz group The Yellowjackets, plays piano and keyboards on four tracks, and brings his colorfully melodic jazz underpinnings forward into the mix.

Rick Schlosser, who drums haves graced the tracks of such artists as James Taylor, Boz Scaggs and Van Morrison, played a very tasty and groove-laden set here .

Cliff Hugo adds his solid and inventive bass chops to every song on the album. Demonstrating why his fat and sassy sound can be heard on songs by Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, and Supertramp.

Long-time Allan Thomas collaborator Brian Kessler - founder of the Hawaiian Style Band - plays his unique style melodic rhythm guitar parts throughout the CD, co-writing six of the tracks.

Judd Miller plays EVI - electronic valve instrument (trumpet) on four tracks. The busy soundtrack specialist has worked with tenor giant Michael Brecker, jazz drummer Peter Erskin and composer Vince Mendoza.

Zeke Zirngieble is the man on the record who is responsible for the scorching slide guitar licks throughout. He has seasoned many records and live gigs with his memorable licks for artists such as the Doobie Brothers, Tower of Power, and Waren Zevon.

The backing vocalists on ''The Island'' include singer''s singer Valerie Carter, whose most distinctive and soulful voice can be heard on Lowell George, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and Earth Wind and Fire recordings.

Also lending a big hand on backing vocals are Leslie Smith and Joe Turano whose vocals can be heard on tracks by Ricky Lee Jones, Joe Cocker and Al Jarreau. And on the last track Nancy Shanks (Tori Amos) rounds out the vocal section.

Handling the engineering side of the proceedings you have the affable Mike Morongell, and Keith Wechlser.

Bio up to 1989:

My musical adventure began in Brooklyn NY, when at the age of eight I started singing along to Sam Cooke on my dad’s car radio. The tune was his smash hit of the time ''You Send Me''. The journey continued when at age twelve I joined an A Cappella vocal group called The Paramounts, in Sheepshead Bay. Enlisted as first tenor, I quickly graduated to lead. The next five years were dedicated to doo-wop singing groups including the Del-Chimes, and the Nitelites, out on the South Shore of Long Island.

At seventeen I dropped out of the vocal group scene and began making solo forays into Manhattan in hopes of being discovered as a singer - that being my only prospect at the time, as I was not yet a songwriter or a competent guitarist. One of my first stops would be 1650 Broadway - the Brill Building. It was the one of the main music business office buildings in mid-town, and it was hallowed ground in the music world. Many of the big hits of the time were written in this building, where teams of songwriters would be cranking out pop and R&B songs for some of the top black and white artists. I''d walk in the building, start at the first floor and work my way upward, knocking on doors that had promising titles. Surprisingly, many of the young and good-natured publishers and record companies would open their doors to me, where I would present myself as a singer looking for a start. As I couldn''t back myself on an instrument and blow them away right then and there, I had to convince them to hear me sing. Aside from singing A Cappella, it was difficult to get myself across so I soon learned to make appointments for an audition and came back armed with an accompanist, singing popular songs by the Drifters or Marvin Gaye. Some of the songs I tried to win over their attention with were tunes written right there in those tiny offices.

Having to work with a backup player was cool, but ultimately costly and limiting, so I knew it was time to dust off that old six-string I''d had since I was twelve, get serious, and learn to back my own vocals. Something about the hammer-on''s and other cool guitar licks played by Curtis Mayfield touched a nerve and I was inexorably drawn down that road, with all its mystery and allure. To this day, some forty years later, I still traverse that road.

That same year (1965), I signed my first recording contract with famed and eccentric Texas producer Huey P. Meaux (The Crazy Cajun). Huey was known to have the magic touch with hit records and was also known as a fast-talker too. In his time, he produced a string of great artists and hit records out of the south including Lightenin'' Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, BJ Thomas, Freddy Fender, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sir Douglas Quintet, Johnny and Edgar Winter and many more. I auditioned for Mr. Meaux in the semi-dingy Peerless Hotel on West 45th street, playing my no-name electric guitar through a cheap amp and singing…I don''t remember what. He must have heard something special in my voice because within hours I was asking my parents permission to fly to Houston. Indeed in two weeks time I found myself, at seventeen years old, on a flight out of Kennedy bound for Texas. Upon landing, Huey, then in his mid-forties, and in his sixteen year old Paramour, drove me to his recording complex on the outskirts of Houston where in the course of ten days, I recorded five tracks with the all-black band “TV & The Tribesmen” and four tracks with BJ Thomas'' all-white backing band “The Triumphs”.

Two singles were released out of those sessions: The ode to fun in the summer - ''Summertime Monkeyshine'' and ''Didn''t It Rain''. ''Summertime Monkeyshine'' was released on Scepter Records, a small successful label based in NYC whose stable of artists included Chuck Jackson, Dionne Warwick and the Shirells. ''Didn''t It Rain'' was released on an obscure Texas label called Pablo Records. Nothing much came of the singles, radio or sales wise, but the experience further galvanized my increasing desire to make a name for myself, stake a claim for myself and maybe even find or define myself somewhere in the realm of music.

At age nineteen, inspired by a freshly broken heart and the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, I began writing songs. Soon after, I became a denizen of the blossoming Greenwich Village coffee house scene, performing regularly on hoot nights at many intimate, dark and cavernous clubs including The Gaslight, The Bitter End and Cafe Feenjon.

In 1969, after spending an eye-opening sixteen months in the New York prison system for a couple of small-time crimes, which serendipitously enabled me to avoid both the draft and the war in Vietnam, I left for the palm tree-laden warmth of Los Angeles. There, I played open-mic nights at The Troubadour and The Ashgrove, played regularly at the Attica Cafe in Santa Monica and traveled the US as rhythm guitarist for singer Lynn Kellogg.

1970 found me back in New York City honing my craft at the Greenwich Village coffee houses again. It was at a weeklong gig at The Gaslight on MacDougal Street when I was discovered by A&R man David Wilkes and subsequently signed to a four-album deal with Sire Records. At this point Sire was a relatively new label and were mainly releasing folk and blues artists. My first album, “A Picture” was produced by songwriter/producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie/The Go-Go''s) and released in 1971. I signed with a booking agent and traveled the country again, but this time as a solo artist, opening for such diverse acts as The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, The Marc Almond Band, Richie Havens, Livingston Taylor, Weather Report, Bill Monroe & The Kentucky Blue Grass Boys and elderly bluesman Arthur Cruddup.

In October of 1972, I was holed up with a long-legged lady friend in a weathered and leaky old wooden shack in the backwoods of Southern Oregon. She cooked gourmet meals on a wood-burning cook stove while I practiced my craft. Opening the mail one day, I discovered a letter from my mentor Cannonball Adderley. In it was an invitation to come down to LA and sing improvisational vocals on a concept album he was doing with his brother Nat and the band. At that time the Cannonball Adderley Quintet consisted of Cannonball on alto, Nat Adderley on cornet, George Duke on piano, Aierto Moreitto on percussion, Roy McCurdy on drums and Walter Booker on bass. I bought a $65 beater Chevy and my honey and I hightailed it down to L.A., burning a quart of oil every hundred miles.

The song we recorded, which was produced by George Axelrod, was entitled ''Behold'' and was released on their “Soul Of The Bible” double-album. On the album credits for that recording Cannonball gave me the nom de plume Arthur Charma, due to contractual obligations I still had to Sire Records. Following the recording date, I sang improvisational vocals with the quintet at the Troubadour and Lighthouse clubs in Southern California, did a clinic with Cannonball in Beverly Hills and opened a live recording session for Cannon and the band at the famous Capital Recording studios in Hollywood; heady stuff for a twenty-four year old.

In 1974, after playing in England and Denmark in a 16 piece band, I married my band mate, English singer/songwriter Carole Cook and settled down in Malibu California. We wrote, recorded and performed together, often singing back-up vocals for other artists. From 1977 to 1978 we were staff songwriters for ABC Music in LA. In ''74, I started teaching guitar as well and charged eight dollars an hour.

Our marital relationship ended in 1979 but that same year I formed the Santa Monica Bay Band with a group of topnotch LA area studio and live players, including buddy Bryan Kessler, in-demand bassist Armando Compean, and Pete Wasner (Vince Gill). After playing numerous gigs, recording plenty of demos and still not getting the coveted record deal, I realized it might be time to move on. In 1980 I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii for six months and was instantly seduced by its beauty and power. In 1983, discouraged over the LA rat race and needing new inspiration, I moved to Kauai.

In 1986, after the ending of my second marriage, I began windsurfing. And in 1990 at the young age of 43 the surfing bug bit me big-time. At this point to help make ends meet I was working four twelve-hour days as crew on the Napali Coast boat excursions, learning the ways of the moody North Pacific Ocean, and the coastal reefs on the NW coast of Kauai. Little did I know how those new experiences would wend their way into my pallet of songwriting. Throughout everything, I managed to keep writing and gigging locally and through the passage of time developed the new blend of music that became apparent on my next two CD''s ''The Island'' and ''Coconut Culture''. You could say the songs are a mixed plate of singer/songwriter, blues, jazz, R&B, Hawaiian, and good old fashioned rock. I call thus gumbo of grooves R&B, short for Rhythm and Beach!

In 1989, I contacted old friend and producer Stephen Barncard - who had produced, engineered and mixed all of my 1980 - 1982 studio demos, and over the next year Steve, my co-writer Bryan Kessler and I created the album ''The Island ''. The record, which was released on my own label Black Bamboo Recordings, is a collection of original tunes written between 1980 and 1989.

Much of the album draws its inspiration from the magic and tranquility of the Hawaiian Islands, but a number of the songs are concerned with other themes like a world spinning out of control, steamy secret affairs, windsurfing and visions of global brotherhood.

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