The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
GIUFFRIA – GIUFFRIA (1984)
In discussions amongst rock fans of a certain age (or shall we say vintage so we don’t feel quite so old), one band that seems to inevitably pop up when the talk turns to bands that had everything going for it and yet just seemed to fail for reasons passing understanding is Giuffria.
The band was founded by keyboardist Greg Giuffria after he left the band Angel. The lineup also featured David Glen Eisley on vocals, Craig Goldy on guitar, bassist Chuck Wright and drummer Alan Krigger. And they really did seem to have it all together. Eisley was a powerhouse vocalist and Craig Goldy could really shred. Wright had appeared on the Quiet Riot album Metal Health (even if he wasn’t an official member of the band). They had a great pedigree.
When you listen to Giuffria, you can see that they also had the songwriting chops. Now anyone who followed Greg Giuffria when he started up House of Lords after the end of Giuffria is well aware of his penchant for over the top and somewhat pompous keyboard flourishes. So it won’t be too much of a surprise that there is plenty of that here. Sometimes it really enhances the song, like on the album opening “Do Me Right”. That song is very heavily influenced by Greg Giuffria’s keyboards but at the same time it has a pretty healthy rocking sound to it as well.
Other times, the keyboards get a bit too hoity-toity sounding like on “Trouble Again”, the song that opens up the album’s second side.
The combination of the band’s two musical styles comes together most prominently on the song “Call To The Heart”. This is the song that likely every rock fan will know as it was Giuffria’s one big hit (it went to #15 on the singles chart) in their short run. I remember hearing the song on the radio when I was a kid and I really liked it back then. As I was listening to the album for this article, I found that while I still liked the song, it didn’t quite have the same draw it once did though.
I actually found myself more keen on the harder edge rocking tracks like “Don’t Tear Me Down” and “Dance” to be honest. Those two songs are on the first side of the album and they really got my heartbeat racing as I listened along.
I wasn’t crazy about the midtempo power ballad that closes out the first side of the album. “Lonely In Love” was just a run of the mill attempt at the big successful lighters in the air at a concert kind of song for me.
Giuffria really rocked out hard on “Turn Me On”, one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Line of Fire” was pretty entertaining as well. There is a slow intro and build up to the song before it picks up the pace. And I really liked Goldy’s guitar solo in the song as well.
But the album did close out on a sour note for me I must say. The last two songs seem to be a thematic double shot. You have “The Awakening” which was a random bunch of weirdness that never gelled as a properly done song in my book. And then “Out of the Blue (Too Far Gone)” made you feel like the band was attempting to craft a tune for some kind of gothic horror film or something. It really doesn’t fit with the rest of the material on the album and I’m likely to skip these songs on any future plays of the cassette.
Even with that downer of a finish, the Giuffria album does a solid job of entertaining the rock masses. They obviously had the ability to craft some quality rock songs. And the individual players were top-notch at their respective positions.
So why didn’t the album take off? Well, I can’t really give a good answer to that. However, I was also wondering why the band is more of an afterthought currently and I think I have at least an inkling of an idea. I’m probably wrong but in listening to the Giuffria album, the material is pretty evidently from the 1980’s. I mean if you’ve spent any time listening to the 80’s rock genre, you know how a band is likely to sound in terms of production. Now, it wasn’t such a bad thing when the bands were releasing the albums in the 80’s. It was what sold and what people wanted to hear. But not every band with that sound transcends that time period to have what would be considered a true classic representation of the genre. And sadly, I think that’s why Giuffria is generally more of a “Whatever Happened To…” remembrance than a band that people are still clamoring for more music from.
It’s kind of sad because I really enjoyed most of the songs on the album and I bet if more people had not failed to see what they had back then, the band might’ve had a longer run and been more successful.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The band released a second studio album in 1986 called Silk & Steel with a drastically reconstituted lineup. That album will be featured in a future Cassette Chronicles article.
The band split in 1987 after recording demos for an unreleased third album. Those unreleased tracks ended up seeing the light of day as songs for the House of Lords debut album and on singer David Glen Eisley’s Lost Tapes album which came out in 2003. He and guitarist Craig Goldy teamed up in 2017 for an album under the Eisley/Goldy banner called Blood, Guts and Games.
Craig Goldy (who I was lucky enough to meet) is best known these days for his time playing in Dio.
Giuffria had two songs (“Never Too Late” and “Say It Ain’t True”) on the soundtrack for the 1985 movie Gotcha!, while a third song called “What’s Your Name?” featured Greg Giuffria and David Glen Eisley.