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NEW ENGLAND

Crossover Prog • United States


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New England biography
US outfit NEW ENGLAND was formed in 1977 by John Fannon (guitars, vocals), Hirsh Gardner (drums, vocals), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards, vocals) and Gary Shea (bass). They were discovered by then Kiss manager Bill Aucoin, who took them under his wings, at least in the early stages of their career.

They were signed by New York based label Infinity Records, who issued their self-titled debut album in 1978. A stint as support band for Kiss followed, but when their label was absorbed into the mother company MCA the label support dried up - probaby because Infinity Records had made substantial losses from the day it was set up. The label folded after a disastrous decision to release recordings with Pope John Paul II with a first pressing of 1 million copies, most of which were returned.

Come 1980 and New England sign with Elektra Records, and the release of their second album Explorer Suite follows suit. The album didn't make much of an impact though, and the level of label support conicided at least to some extent with the sales figures.

For their third effort Walking Wild in 1981 they hired Todd Rundgren to produce the album, and he also co-wrote one tune with the band. For this venture New England's sound changed towards songs harder and more anthemic in nature, but with sales still low and label support as good as non-existing the band found themselves going nowhere, and in 1982 they disbanded.

All the members remained in the music industry thereafter, but apart from a handful of live shows in the last few years they have chosen not to reunite. The band name New England remains well known though, and they have fans in most corners of the world to this day.

New England official website

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NEW ENGLAND discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NEW ENGLAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 7 ratings
New England
1978
2.05 | 3 ratings
Explorer Suite
1980
2.95 | 2 ratings
Walking Wild
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
1978
1998

NEW ENGLAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits Live
2003

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NEW ENGLAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 New England by NEW ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.02 | 7 ratings

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New England
New England Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars From Boston, Massachusetts came this powerful young US AOR/Hard Rock band, born in 1977 as a result of the gathering of guitarist/singer John Fannon, keyboardist Jimmy Waldo, drummer Hirsh Gardner and bassist Gary Shea.They were discovered by Kiss' producer Bill Aucoin, so their first album was produced by Paul Stanley together with Mike Stone, best known for his work with Queen and Asia.''New England'' was released in 1979 on Infinity Records, brunch label of MCA Records.

A marginal entry in the database, New England played mostly AOR-flavored Hard Rock with often syrupy lyrics and powerful driving guitars.The musicianship was always great with catchy groovy tunes and memorable compositions.But the personal approach of the band came from Jimmy Waldo and his huge interest of using analog keyboards like organ and even greater mellotron in a steady base, unlike many bands of the style, which were mostly synth-oriented or simply did not know how to use these instruments.On the other hand Waldo adapted the sound and added the grandiose sound of mellotron in New England's sound, delivering often passages with symphonic hints.The tremendous hit ''Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya'', the smooth ''Shall I run away'' or the groovy ''Alone tonight'' are excellent examples of the Waldo's unique approach with great organ/mellotron parts.BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST should have been definitely an influence.Additionally the band used also some great multi-vocal harmonies in a very vintage way, reminding either of THE BEATLES or STYX at their best, the later influence being also evident in the softer parts.Of course this is not a prog album by any means, rather a prog-flavored straight ahead AOR/Hard Rock/Pomp Rock release, but the blend of the band's pompous style with symphonic-inclined keyboard parts along with the careful vocal harmonies make them worth exploring.

Regarding the Pomp/Hard Rock point of view, this album is definitely a masterpiece.But even a hardcore prog fan with just a bit of interest on melodic and accesible tunes should give ''New England'' a spin.Warmly recommended.

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 New England by NEW ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.02 | 7 ratings

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New England
New England Crossover Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is not a prog record. It does, however, feature a unique breed of widely popular rock music that freely drew inspiration from the worlds of prog and art-rock in the late 1970's and early 1980's. If Journey, Styx and Asia have no songs of interest in their discographies for you whatsoever, I can save you some time by advising you to stop reading immediately. "Do not pass go. Do not collect their albums".

The AOR radio hit from this album, "Don't Ever Wanna' Lose Ya'", is fairly representative of New England's approach, combining distorted guitar and majestic keys with big vocal harmonies against the backdrop of a straight rock beat to create a swirling confection that is as powerful and compellingly catchy as it is sentimental and sometimes even sappy.

Highlights include a closing duo of songs cleverly crafted to serve as a soundtrack for the mind's eye of anyone who has ever daydreamed of being a rock star. (Now that's what I call a very large 'target audience'!) Although the transience of fame remains palpable throughout "The Last Show" and "Encore", any semblance of day to day realities, trials or tribulations of such a lifestyle are otherwise bypassed in lieu of providing the listener a more idealized version of vicarious rock-star wish fulfillment.

"Turn Out the Light" is one of the most "well-adjusted" songs of yearning for lost youthful innocence that I've ever heard. The ballad "Shall I Run Away" hints at some of the saccharine tendencies that would surface to a greater degree on later albums.

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 Walking Wild by NEW ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Walking Wild
New England Crossover Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lack of label support and diminished sales prompted the band to call it quits after "Walking Wild", their third studio effort. That's too bad. New England had just begun to find their own unique voice so to speak. Overt ELO, Queen and Styx mannerisms are subdued this time out, replaced by a forward looking embrace of the trends and technologies of a new decade. The result is an album that integrates a wide range of influences without striving too hard to duplicate any specific one of them.

Never a band to shy away from obvious pop hooks and power pop roots, "Walking Wild" has more than its fair share of lightweight throw-aways. Speaking solely from a "progrock interest" perspective, it offers very little to earn itself a position of distinction on one's "wish- list".

Fans of well produced, intelligent 70's/80's pop-rock with hooks to spare, however, will find some magic moments to enjoy, assuming they are blessed with a measure of tolerance for the dated sounds of the era and a few syrupy moments along the way.

(Prog content note: This album was produced by none other than the great - and also sometimes a bit syrupy - Todd Rungren.)

Highlights from "Walking Wild":

"Get it Up"

A catchy symphonic tune about striving to reach ever-greater altitudes despite the accompanying increased danger of falling (or failing) from such heights. Even massive success has its hidden dangers... Is it possible for one to get so high that they launch into orbit, never to plant their feet on solid ground again?

Listeners patient enough to endure the relatively trite (and dated) opening will be rewarded by a substantive, if slightly pompous, keyboard part throughout the chorus. Fully recognizing this as the song's finest moment, they are more than pleased to repeat it another 4 or 5 times for us before the inevitable wrap-up.

"You're There"

Atmospheric keyboards augment the pensive ambience as a catchy melody hooks the listener with subtlety on the album's closer "You're There". It is a song of earnest yearning, one which points toward a promising future that might have been - had New England been able to hold things together for a few more years.

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 Explorer Suite by NEW ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.05 | 3 ratings

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Explorer Suite
New England Crossover Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If there is an AOR-archives website somewhere, this band should certainly be one of their darlings. After all, Kiss guitarist-songwriter-vocalist Paul Stanley "discovered" the band and even produced their eponymous debut. After denting the top 40 with the anthemic rocker "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya'", New England branched out to include more art-rock and pop-rock on their sophomore effort "Explorer Suite". They hired Todd Rundgren to impeccably produce their third album "Walking Wild", a (now dated) collection of songs on the forefront of the move to integrate the cutting edge of New Wave influences into the world of AOR pop rock.

In their proggressive-(ish) moments, they combined the art rock leanings of early 1970's ELO and Styx with the catchy rock hooks of Cheap Trick - briefly tagging it all with inspired keyboard solos some of which would not have been at all out of place on a genuine prog album. Most of the time, they walked a fine line between hard rock, arena rock, pop rock, and pomp rock. Think of a unique mix of Europe's "The Final Countdown" with ELO's "Discovery".

One curiosity to me is how their lead vocalist and songwriter John Fannon (from Boston USA) adopted the affectation of a British accent! Like a USA teenager reciting lines from their favorite Monty Python film or skit, one gets the feeling that Fannon so loved the music of the British invation that he adopted their vowel pronunciations as his own. For some reason I'm still oddly amused at how well he flew under the radar doing this "fake British accent" with such a straight face, semi-successfully selling records along the way!

The highlights of this record are "Explorer Suite" and "Hope". The former alternates between mellotron rich prog-lite passages and catchy pop rock choruses. The latter opens with an expressive acoustic guitar passage before settling into an earnestly pensive groove. Both allow ample time for guitar and keyboard solos to transcend normal pop limitations. "Honey Money" and "Livin' in the Eighties" are well crafted rock radio friendly up- tempo tunes with art-rock around the edges. (Think The Cars, Toto, Boston or Loverboy)

Certainly one of the less progressive items you will find here in ProgArchives. But if you like any of the 70's or 80's output of the bands mentioned in this review, New England may turn out to be a semi-obscure AOR band worthy of "exploration"...

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 Explorer Suite by NEW ENGLAND album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.05 | 3 ratings

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Explorer Suite
New England Crossover Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

1 stars An average AOR album, a decrepit prog album.

New England was an obscure American AOR band who was discovered by KISS' producer. The band released their debut self titled album in 1979, and this album, The Explorer Suite, the next year. The band has two obvious influences: KISS and Queen. The sugar coated and pop covered production of the album makes for great radio hits, but makes for scratchy ears for any prog fan. It is far fetched to call the band Crossover Prog in general, and this album accentuates any negating argument to the band's progressiveness. Each track would be great for 80's radio, and many were, but each track lacks any progression or relatively any actual creativity in the songwriting at all.

The album opens with Honey Money, a related to prog related pop hit. Although the melodies are eternally catchy, and the cheesy synthstrings and Hammond chords add a slightly interesting dynamic, the song boils down to the same thing: a painfully simple pop song. Although I'm pulling the stereotypical prog purist card, I can't help it; there is very little good to be found in this song or the rest of them.

Livin' in the Eighties is almost identical to the previous track, with different riffs. More belonging on a KISS album than anything else, the song is fantastic for radio play, but lacks anything that I would call true "creativity." Although the instrumental section displays a glimpse of hope with an interesting synth solo, the song still reeks of AOR pop.

Conversation abandons any hope for the progression of the band. The lyrics are a giant ball of cheese, and the instrumental work is so simplistic an elementary band could have recorded it. Overall, the song follows pretty much the same formula as every other song on the album, and displays absolutely nothing special for the album.

It's Never Too Late has a glimpse of hope in the intro, with an interesting instrumental display, before it abruptly ends and breaks into another pop song. The only redeeming quality is the reprise of the introductory theme, which is painfully short each time.

Explorer Suite is one of two of the only songs I find almost enjoyable on the album. Reaching the mind blowing length of 6 minutes (gasp), the song is the one of the reasons I listened to the album more than twice. Deriving the influence more from Yes than KISS, the song has some interesting qualities to say the least. Although is not what I would call Prog, it is the closest the band has come so far. The chorus is still painfully poppish, but the verses and instrumental section do proffer a more proggish output.

Seal It With a Kiss is painful for me to listen to. Although the other song do have some proggish tendencies, this song throws in the towel and goes all out 80s pop. For those who don't know, 80s pop is not what I would call "good," or remotely enjoyable, as is this song is. As the title infers, the lyrics are painfully cheesy, and the entire song is just a musical fluke.

Hey You're On The Run is just like the previous track, following the same formula, with only slightly less pure pop feel. Overall a pretty bad track.

No Place To Go has a nice intro, but again follows a similar formula as almost every other track on the album an breaks eventually into a more ballad-like pop track.

Searchin', just like the previous track, follows that same interesting intro-pop verse-pop chorus-pop verse-almost interesting bridge-pop chorus-outro formula as almost every other song on the album, making this not special in any way.

Hope is my second tolerable track, but just barely. Again a 6 minuter, the track has the heaviest KISS/Queen fusion sound on the album, with some boring but different riffing and an actual guitar solo and not just a crappy little diddy lasting half a second. The synth solo also has some interesting qualities, and overall the song has a more tangible output to contribute to the album.

You'll Be Born Again is a forgettable piano outro, with some mellow melodies and some simple but nice playing. Overall, it's a fine outro, with nothing really special going for it.

ALBUM OVERALL: Prog? That's funny. Pop? Well obviously. The Explorer Suite presents very little material that I find listenable, and even less content that I find tolerable. The album is filled with sugary pop hits aimed at success on AOR radio stations, and the album did have some decent success. The melodies are catchy, the instrumental work is simple, and overall the album is just a very average album, even by pop standards, and by prog standards, well, it's just bad. 1 star.

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