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Group 87 biography
GROUP 87 were formed as a trio of highly-successful session and solo artists in the early eighties. While they existed for only a few years, they left behind two highly-acclaimed instrumental albums that are considered landmarks by many new-age, jazz, and progressive rock artists even today. The band consisted of multi-instrumentalists Mark Isham and Peter Maunu, as well as bassist Patrick O'Hearn.

Isham began his musical career early as a sort of child prodigy in a number of San Francisco area bands including the psychedelically-influenced SONS OF CHAMPLIN, founded by future CHICAGO keyboardist/guitarist Bill Champlain, before moving on to the jazz quartet RUBIZA PATROL. He also performed and recorded with blues legend TAJ MAHAL, as well as with VAN MORRISON and BOZ SKAGGS, among others.

Maunu performed as a classical violinist and gained the rating of concert master while still in his teens, earning him a scholarship to study at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He recorded with JEAN-LUC PONTY, BILLY COBHAM, and AIRTO among others, and was a founding member of the L.A. EXPRESS.

O'Hearn began his career as a touring member of FRANK ZAPPA's band while barely out of his teens, before basically being fired when he turned his energy and attention to the GROUP 87 project at the close of the seventies. The three met and became friends while in their teens in California, performing and recording demo tracks together in between their various other projects. Former BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS drummer Bobby Columby played a part in their signing by Columbia Records in 1979, which led to their debut release. While former Zappa drummer and future founder of MISSING PERSONS Terry Bozzio declined an invitation to join the band, he did contribute drum tracks for their first album.

The band drifted apart soon after their debut release, a victim of a depressed music market, fast-changing public tastes, and too much success by the individual members in their respective solo and project efforts. Columby left Columbia about the same time, but resurfaced three years later with EMI/Capitol and signed Isham to reform the group for their final release, 'A Career in Dada Processing' in 1984.

The band's sound was a highly-polished blend of jazzy rock and techno with sometimes intense guitar and drum arrangements, while overall having the feel of early new-age music. Their compositions were all carefully arranged instrumentals with layers of ...
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Group 87Group 87
Limited Edition
Sony 2017
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A Career In Dada ProcessingA Career In Dada Processing
One Way Records Inc 1994
$68.56 (used)
Group 87Group 87
One Way Records Inc 2000
$44.94 (used)
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GROUP 87 discography

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3.31 | 12 ratings
Group 87
3.04 | 4 ratings
A Career in Dada Processing

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GROUP 87 Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Group 87 by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.31 | 12 ratings

Group 87
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars This album, released in 1980, shows, in a nutshell, what went wrong with the major label record companies starting in the late seventies, and continuing to this day.

Here we have a band of high pedigree. Peter Maunu had played with Billy Cobham and Jean-Luc Ponty, anong others. Mark Isham was a well-known San Francisco musician by this time. Patrick O'Hearn may be the best bassist ever to play in Frank Zappa's band (listen to The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution or The Purple Lagoon to hear why I say that). Add in two more Zappa alumni, Terry Bozzio and Peter Wolf. You should have a spectacular fusion album, right?


The result, probably guided by some record company executives, is a bland, boring set of placid, almost new age, background pap.

At no time do any of the musicians here take control, and play anything to capture the listener's attention. At best, these are unobtrusive background tracks for a polyester yuppie bar. It doesn't surprise me that all three of the main players on this album went on to become new age darlings. It also is no surprise that Bozzio declined full membership in this band, choosing instead to flaunt wife Dale's, uhhhh, talents, in The Missing Persons.

 Group 87 by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.31 | 12 ratings

Group 87
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by gr8dane

4 stars This is one of those records I picked up because of the cover.I don't know why exactly,but it stood out somehow. I have never heard any music like this,anywhere,ever. The best way for me to describe this music,is if you wake up from having some extreme weird trippy dream,this would be your sountrack.Or a soundtrack for some visual short film of apocalyptic aftermath. Very sci-fi-ish. The music is slow and kind of grinds it way into to you. Talking about soundtracks,Mark Isham has since made loads of them.Several solo albums,new- agey 'Castalia',which is very good and a jazz fusionish album 'Blue sun',which is excellent. Terry Bozzio and Patrick O'hearn were both Zappa musicians. O'hearn has since been quite successful making some really nice new-age albums,which are a kind of a lighter continuation from Group 87. Don't know anything about Maunu,except I owned a guitar driven new-age album once which was OK. Clem of Nazareth gave a great track by track,so I won't get into that.Thanx Clem. So if you are of the adventurous sort looking for unique music, or a dreamer looking for a soundtrack to those dreams,this could well be what you are looking for. It sure works for me. By the way,These guys did open up for Weather Report way back in 81 I think,would sure have liked to experience that.
 Group 87 by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.31 | 12 ratings

Group 87
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tmay102436

4 stars For me, this is one of those albums that you play on a rainy Sunday afternoon, cup of tea, sit and listen...and I mean really listen. As you are listening to master musicians creating music, not exploiting their chops just to be cool.

I loved this album when I first heard it, and am listening to it now in Sept of 2008 - It stills has the same calming, enlightening effect on me. As we all know, all of these muso's have done a lot since this time, but to me, this sort of launched their individual careers with a piece of solid, yet transparent beauty that doesn't come along often enough.

The harmonic structure, blended with just fantastic musicianship makes this a have to have in the prog/jazz/rock genre.

Thanks for listening, and thanks to all who LISTEN to Progressive rock!


 Group 87 by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.31 | 12 ratings

Group 87
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Combining jazz fusion, hard rock, AM pop, soul and L.A.-style shimmer, Mark Isham, Patrick O'Hearn, Peter Maunu and Terry Bozzio put together this little project in 1980. Though a bit sterile by today's progressive standards, it is a solid session during an interesting but breif period in instrumental music.

On this, the first of two records, the veteran studio players present a classy but not-to-serious selection of adult progressive fusion that is low-key while still quite adept, taking its time with nine medium- length cuts. The material moves along gradually with a relaxed penthouse pace but is broken up by passages of clever arranging and instrumentation, Isham's horn leading the way with layers of chords, Bozzio responding sympathetically in hand with O'Hearn's solid bass, and Peter Maunu providing some clean and foamy electric guitar on top with a few nice hard rock moments. Little of it is cutting edge or exciting and some progsters will simply be bored by Group 87, but on a lazy afternoon it proves to be a simple, easy to digest slice of instrumental pie, pleasing, inoffensive and entertaining.

 A Career in Dada Processing by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.04 | 4 ratings

A Career in Dada Processing
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Group 87’s second album came out nearly four years after their debut, and probably wouldn’t have happened at all had former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer and newly- hired EMI/Capitol executive Bobby Columby not been the catalyst for the band’s signing with Columbia Records back in 1980. Columby was a firm believer in Mark Isham in particular, and after Columby left Columbia and moved on to EMI he was interested in acquiring new talent for the label but lacked major investment capital. A Group 87 album was an attractive option considering the former members of that band were all local, independently successful, had a polished sound, and were a known and reliable commodity.

By 1984 Terry Bozzio had found fame and fortune by planting his scantily-clad wife in front of a microphone as the voice of Missing Persons, and had secured former Group 87 bassist Patrick O’Hearn to support the effort. So the former trio became a duo, and was in need of a drummer. While Michael Barsimanto and Wire Train drummer Brian MacLeod were credited on this second and final release, the drum tracks were primarily recorded by Mike & the Mechanics member Peter Van-Hooke.

And in large part the drum work is electronic, as is much of the album’s other instrumentation. That is the most noticeable difference between this and the first Group 87 album. From the opening “Postcard from the Volcano”, the breadth of synthesized music is quite surprising, and is in large part what makes this album a bit of a disappointment. The compositions are for the most part as fresh and tightly constructed as the first album, but the dull thud of digital drums and layers upon layers of synthetic keyboards give the music a sheen that at times becomes too predictable, and even too polished. Other than some doodling guitar work from Isham, the first two tracks (including “Pleasure in Progress”) are mostly programmed sounds tapped out on a couple of keyboards. This may have been innovative in 1984, but much like some of the early Kraftwerk albums it doesn’t stand up all that well in today’s hyper-digital computer age where pre-teens can mix identical works on a Casio connected to their laptop.

On “The Mask Maker” Isham vacillates a bit between keyboards and his trumpet, and the soft brassy tones of that instrument bring the sound back closer to what made the band’s first release so inviting. I’m not quite sure what Maunu is doing on guitar, but it sort of sounds acoustic, which means it probably isn’t or you’d think I’d be sure. This is a very slow and delicate tune, almost a new-age number, which is not surprising considering both these artists would lean that direction in their careers following this release.

Isham keeps the trumpet going on “The Apple Bites Back” and even adds some mandolin, which combined with Maunu picking up the tempo a bit on guitar makes this an upbeat and energetic piece. Like many of the songs on their first album though, Isham stops short of really developing the composition and it comes off as kind of a sound- bite demo. Too bad, this one had real potential.

“Lough Erin’s Mist” is a short, almost ambient track that is pleasant enough but never really seems to go anywhere. Not sure what the point was to this one.

The title track is both the longest and most interesting track on the album, with a combination of digital and some acoustic drumming, long and spacey trumpet work intermixed with the keyboards, and what almost comes off as a slight climax toward the end. Again, this is more new-age than it is neo-progressive or anything else, but Maunu’s guitar work is quite innovative and the keyboards at least blend well instead of sounding canned. Also Isham experiments with some harmonic keyboard progressions that are rather unusual and so are at least interesting.

Other than some slightly jazzy guitar, “Angels and Obelisks” is another purely ambient track that seems to be heavily inspired by some of the stuff Andy Summers and Robert Fripp were doing together around the same time, although a bit less energetic. Here again Isham’s trumpet (and violin!) give some texture to an otherwise rather dull tune.

The album (and the band’s career) closes with “The Death of Captain Nemo”, a song whose title says ‘epic’ but whose score is mellow. This thing is more about trying to make keyboards sound like running water and slow waves than it is about any kind of progressive arrangement. Kind of a disappointing end to kind of a disappointing album.

This is a really interesting band that had an opportunity to have a real influence on a whole generation of post-rock and experimental artists that would come along starting just a few years after their demise. But instead the band plays it very safe on this release, mixing then-popular digital keyboards and fake drums with spacey tempos and flat rhythms. I’m going to give this one three stars, but in reality that is just rounding off what is probably a 2.6 star effort. If you want to know what this band was really capable of, buy their first album, or pick up Isham’s self-titled solo album of upbeat new- age music that came out six or seven years after this, or try Maunu’s inspirational but hard-to-classify solo debut ‘Warm Sound in a Gray Field’ instead. This one is a little better than ‘collectors-only’, but not by much.


 Group 87 by GROUP 87 album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.31 | 12 ratings

Group 87
Group 87 Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars Group 87 were a super group of sorts back in the early eighties, with trumpeter/ keyboardist Mark Isham counting studio work with Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, and Boz Skaggs to his credit; bassist Patrick O’Hearn having been a member of Frank Zappa’s band in the seventies; and guitarist Peter Maunu having worked with Jean-Luc Ponty and Billy Cobham, in addition to being a founding member of the L.A. Express. All of them were up-and-coming musicians in the southern California area, and all would go on to successful careers as studio musicians, composers, and producers. Drummer Terry Bozzio was on his way out of Zappa’s band and in the process of forming the pop sensation Missing Persons with his wife and O’Hearn, so he declined an invitation to join the band but appeared as a guest musician on their debut.

This is an entirely instrumental album, consisting solely of drums, trumpet, bass, and guitar, with the remainder of sounds coming out of a variety of keyboards and synthesizers operated by Isham. This is a sound that is undeniably eighties, but is also rather difficult to classify. While one might be tempted to lump then with more traditional jazz/fusion bands, there is nothing improvisational about this music. Every note seems carefully orchestrated and executed with precision. Each arrangement starts around a central basic rhythm, and then constructs a series of progressions that often seem to have little to do with that rhythm, usually with a combination of percussion and synthesized keyboards. The whole thing works deliciously well.

“Future of the City” starts with a cold and glistening electric piano that is joined by a quiet, jazzy trumpet before blossoming into a rich blend of guitar, drums and cymbals. The whole thing sounds like a Joe Jackson (ala ‘Night and Day’) piano-bar tune with a little cool Al DiMeolo thrown in for effect, while Maunu’s guitar work is just pure fusion. Midway through the tempo shifts with a warm synthesized passage with Isham’s trumpet rising above in an almost celestial fashion. A great opening to an unusual album.

The basic rhythm of “Magnificent Clockworks” reminds me a lot of Jeff Beck’s version of “Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat” with its purposeful and driving beat that is at the same time smooth and soothing. Guest drummer Terry Bozzio is spectacular, particularly as he works above the rim with some great percussion. Maunu’s guitar work is funky but very measured and Isham lays some melodic and spacey keyboards on the whole thing to give it a bit of a fast-paced ballroom feel. If you’ve ever heard Georgio Morodor’s work on the ‘Electric Dreams’ soundtrack, you’ll have an idea of the tenor of this track.

The group slows down considerably for “Frontiers: 1856”, a lazy keyboard-driven piece with some very lush bass and acoustic guitar passages that just seem to float around the room on a good stereo. The acoustic qualities of this track are just superb. My only complaint about this particular recording is that it is entirely too brief. This could have easily been developed with some nuances of time and movement built into the arrangement to even greater effect.

Maunu gets a bit funky with his electric guitar on “Sublime Feline”, with Isham seeming to work at keeping up with Bozzio’s aggressive tempo. Isham also weaves some really unusual trumpet work in, very dissonant tones that blend very well with keyboards. Behind all of this is a persistent bell-like synthesizer rhythm that gives this a futuristic feel, or as close to one that a twenty-seven year old recording can muster. The disassociated ending is very unique, and much more interesting than the fadeout ending used on most of the tracks.

The back side of the vinyl album opens with “The Bedouin”, a pulsating, snared beat from Bozzio along with a stark piano score that sounds very much like the album’s opening track. This almost sounds as if the band took the opening number and just slowed it down a bit, but the slightly syncopated beat dresses it up with a completely new sound. Other than the drums, this is an almost completely synthesized composition, and would not have been out-of-place on one of the later Alan Parsons Project albums.

“While the City Sleeps” is also heavy on early techno sounds, but like “Frontiers” the tempo is slow and smooth. Isham’s trumpet here is as close to pure jazz as he gets anywhere on the album, but once again the whole thing seems to be more like a sampler, and should have been developed quite a bit more.

“Moving Sidewalks” is centered around a choppy electric piano riff and string-driven synthesizer, along with more of the interwoven and understated trumpet work that almost sounds synthetic itself (heck, maybe it is). Useless trivia – Moving Sidewalks was the name of ZZ Top Billy Gibbon’s first band. Has nothing to do with this song, but thought I’d bring it up.

“Hall of Glass” sounds like something that Luc-Ponty might have done, quietly executed with careful attention paid to each note, but no particular theme to drive it and so left to the interpretation of the listener. While the album as a whole is quite strong, this one borders ever so slightly on filler.

The album closes on “One Night Away From Day”, dominated almost completely by Maunu’s soaring guitar passages and Bozzio’s avant drum work. This is another track that could easily pass for something from Jeff Beck around the same timeframe, and works very well to cap off the album.

Like I said before, this is a rather unusual album that is difficult to classify. While on first listen it seems a bit light and fluffy, repeated playing reveals the high level of precision and virtuoso playing of each musician. The band suffered from poor management as well as a major slump in the record industry in the early eighties, so there was little promotion of the album, and the members moved on to other ventures. They would reform for another album a few years later, but it lacked the fresh feel and quiet energy of this debut. This is a great recording for those who enjoy skillful musicianship and tight fusion with an early techno feel to it. A worthwhile investment if you can find it. Four stars.


Thanks to clemofnazareth for the artist addition.

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