Monday, April 18, 2011

Doug Fieger Estate To Release Two Early Fieger Albums

Before The Knack There Was Sky

As part of an ongoing commemorative series of releases, the family of Doug Fieger is making available two albums by Fieger’s first band, Sky. Forty years after their original release on vinyl, Don’t Hold Back and Sailor’s Delight are being released digitally to a new generation. Better known as the lead singer of The Knack and co-writer of the #1 song of 1979, “My Sharona,” Fieger’s place in rock history might never have happened had it not been for the Cinderella story of Sky, nearly ten years earlier.

In 1970, Sky, whose members included Fieger, John Coury and Robert Greenfield, was achieving local success in Detroit. Although underage, the band was frequently booked at the concert venue, The Grande Ballroom, as the opening act for a powerhouse succession of groups including The Who, Joe Cocker and Jeff Beck. In a display of youthful bravado Fieger and Coury sent a letter to legendary producer, Jimmy Miller (Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith), saying that if he ever found himself in Detroit he should come by and listen to their band, and to everyone’s surprise, Miller took them up on the offer.

“On his way to LA he made a pit-stop in Detroit,” recalls Greenfield. “He came to Doug's parents’ house and we played for him in their basement. The next day Jimmy Miller told us he would like us to come to London to produce us. That was the goal we had worked so hard for.”

Within weeks of graduating from high school, a seventeen year-old Fieger and his bandmates were on a plane to London and Olympic Studios with a recording contract on RCA records.

With Miller on board, the lineup of musicians that came in to work with Sky reads like a Who’s Who of 60s rock and roll: Bobby Keys on sax, Jim Price on trumpet, Nicky Hopkins on keyboards as well as Gary Wright (who also produced), Chris Wood (Traffic) on woodwinds, and Ian Stewart on piano. Andy Johns (Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St., Goat's Head Soup and Led Zeppelin IV) engineered and shared producer credit.

Don’t Hold Back was released that year and work on the second album Sailor’s Delight began almost immediately (in LA and at the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio at Mick Jagger’s mansion, Stargroves); this time with a new drummer, 16 year-old Rob Stawinski. Sky returned to LA for the 1971 release of the album, but marketing was weak and sales were tepid. The band broke up and went their separate ways. Fieger went on to co-found The Knack, but he remained close friends with Coury, who also found success in the music business, recording with Don Henley and co-writing the hit “Last Worthless Evening.” In 1994 he played on The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over and continued to tour with them until 2000. Stawinski toured with Badfinger before returning to his hometown near Detroit. Of his time with Sky Stawinski comments, “I am proud, to this day, of what we accomplished.”

After Fieger’s death in 2010 his family decided to go about obtaining the rights from RCA. However, this project was not purely sentimental. Not only did they believe in the quality of the material (all written by Fieger and Coury), but having seen that Sky was frequently referenced on Knack message boards, the family concluded that there was also general interest in the music and wanted to make it available to fans.

Long-time Knack producer Richard Bosworth was called in to digitally re-master the songs. The project interested him immediately; despite having worked so closely with Doug he knew of Sky, but had never heard the songs before. He was not disappointed. “I (was) impressed with the quality of songs Sky composed for theses two albums,” he says. “I've become a fan.”

Discovered among the recordings were some titles and mixes that did not appear on the original albums. They have been included as bonus tracks on the re-releases as a treat for those fans from long ago who never expected to hear a “new” Sky song after all these years.

Don’t Hold Back and Sailor’s Delight are available everywhere now.

Track Listing:

Don’t Hold Back

1. Goodie Two Shoes
2. Take Off And Fly
3. Rockin’ Me Yet
4. I Still Do
5. Make It In Time
6. One Love
7. There in the Greenbriar
8. How’s That Treatin’ Your Mouth, Babe?
9. Homin’ Ground
10. Feels Like 1000 Years
11. You Are the One*
12. Anomona Getcha*
13. Watcha Gonna Do*
*Bonus Track

Sailor’s Delight

1. Make It Tight
2. Don’t Want Nobody
3. Let It Lie Low
4. Taking The Long Way Home
5. Come Back
6. Bring It On Back
7. Tooly
8. Sing For Me
9. Low Down
10. Make It Tight (Mono Mix)*
11. Taking the Long Way Home (Mono Mix)*
12. Mama I Feel Your Sadness*
* Bonus Track

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1 comment:

metalodyssey said...

Very interesting and informative Ryo... I plumb never heard of Doug Fieger's first band Sky. Now, I do. :) I'll have to check these albums out.