You only have to take one look at the glorious cover artwork of Pablo Cruise's self-titled debut album to realise that it springs from the lush mid-seventies - a pre-synthesizer era of expert songwriting and songwriters-turned-superstars. Pablo Cruise formed in 1973 with four musicians who had, amongst others, turned up in bands ranging from Badfinger, It's A Beautiful Day and Stoneground, with an aim to make good music. By the tail-end of the decade, fortunes would see the band reach even the US Top Ten singles chart with What'cha Gonna Do?, but you can start right here with this debut album, now respectfully re-released on compact disc by Lemon, and still witness formidable song-craft.
If you had to place the sound of Pablo Cruise at this point in their life, then you'd navigate to a place in which a post-Dylan-era The Band meets a Madman Across The Water Elton John. The songs demonstrate a tight structure, yet majestically a loose performance is bestowed upon each and this demonstrates stellar, confident musicianship. Take for instance, the inviting introduction on What Does It Take, or the powerhouse closer Ocean Breeze; these are good examples of a band capable of staying within the power-hook framework of music whilst being simultaneously unafraid to let their hair down on record, and more importantly to flex their performance muscles.
Pablo Cruise was recorded in 1975, and it's interesting to detect in the recordings a funky undertone which was surely a pre-cursor to the rhythm-and-blues convergance towards the disco movement; a movement that would later invade and stamp its trademark on the seventies. Indeed, Not Tonight sounds almost like a pre-Studio 54 KC & The Sunshine Band. However, it's not surprising that the album is quite versatile in the genre stakes, considering it was arranged and co-produced by David Paich, member of Toto and a man who would later become a heavy contributor to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
If the cover artwork depicts a gorilla amongst a tropical wilderness, then you can only surmise that this is an accurate reflection of Pablo Cruise's traits; flowery arrangements on the surface, with a beast-like devotion towards performing that packs a three-dimensional edge. Pablo Cruise is a strong album without an epic mission; and yet after one listen it will leave an epic impression.
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