Info compiled/ written by Eddy_litE – I have no idea where various snippets came from.
The history part came from Rock Detector
Copyright Musicdetector Websites 2008
A coed group including the Blackfoot, Rick Derringer, Axis, Rod Steward and Alcatrazz credited guitarist Danny Johnson. PRIVATE LIFE arose from a project put together by Johnson with vocalist Kelly Breznik. The pair had worked together in a band previously. Johnson and Breznik were joined by Johnson's ex-Axis and Rod Steward band colleague Jay Davis on bass, erstwhile Badfinger drummer Lenny Campanaro and a keyboard player by the name of Jennifer Blakeman.
Blakeman had played with Breznik in previous incarnations of PRIVATE LIFE, the name having been in the custody of Louisiana born Breznik for some five years prior to its adoption by the singer for her new project with Johnson.
It was whilst Kelly was still living in Louisiana that she became friends with Valerie Bertinelli, the actress wife of Van Halen's Eddie Van Halen, but it was through using engineer Don Landee on demo tapes in Los Angeles that Van Halen became interested in working with the band. Van Halen wound up co-producing PRIVATE LIFE's debut album, 'Shadows', with Donn Landee. The group signed to Warner Brothers and almost naturally were then taken out on tour by Van Halen.
The band's sophomore album, a self-titled offering, found Van Halen and Ted Templeman on board although Jay Davis and Lenny Campanaro had made way for Steve Kershisnik and Chris Frazier respectively. Amongst the tracks on offer was a cover of Van Morrison’s 'Domino'.
In 1991 Danny Johnson was working with ex D'Molls singer Desi Rexx and former UFO drummer Andy Parker in Rexx And Johnson. By 1996 he had enrolled into the veteran act Steppenwolf, appearing on their 'Feed The Fire' album.
1. Shadows (1988)
2. Private Life (1990)
Both albums were released by Warner Brothers Records in the US. WEA/Warner released them in Europe as well. They were originally released on CD, vinyl and musicassette.
In the early 2000s Wounded Bird Records re-released both titles on 1 CD. In 2008 Warner/Rhino re-released them once again separately although I have no idea if they were released as CDs or only as downloads. I also have no idea how they will sound, but Rhino has a tendency of squashing all the life out of their releases so it wouldn’t surprise me if they did that on those too.
Wounded Birds Records has a reputation that is respectable in that area, but sadly the release is not easily tracked down.
PRIVATE LIFE - SHADOWS (1988, WARNER BROS)
‘Shadows’ Album Cover Art
Kelly Breznik - vocals
Danny Johnson - guitars
Jennifer Blakeman - keyboards
Jay Davis - bass
Lenny Campanaro – drums
Produced by Edward Van Halen and Donn Landee
Quite a lovely slice of AOR from this Los Angeles quintet, with a mix of male and female, plus established personnel plus not so well known. The band apparently got their break after being witnessed by actress Valerie Bertinelli, she was so enarmored with the band, she got her husband Eddie Van Halen involved. So it was that Warner Bros too became involved, giving the band a home, with Ted Templeman and Van Halen doing the production honors.
Of the established players, Johnson had just come off a stint playing with Alcatrazz (refer their 'Dangerous Games' album), Both he and Jay Davis were previously with 70's rockers Axis, plus they did a stint together in Joe Cerisano's Silver Condor. Meanwhile Blakeman had moved west to LA from Louisiana to further her music career. However, the star of the show is vocal princess Kelly Breznik, who really does have an incredible voice, and who fits the bill perfectly for the type of music that Private Life play, which is radio friendly melodic rock/AOR. Altogether, a soaring
voice combined with power and control. We are not lacking for anything of the ten tracks on offer here. Personal favourite is the absolutely gorgeous & intense ballad ‘Rockabye Angel’, other favorites include the album opener 'Put Out The Fire', the surging relentlessness of 'Last Heartbeat' and the vivid melodies of 'Spirit Free'. However, the others aren't far behind either, including the punchy 'Hold On', the hard rocking 'Runnin The Race' or the AOR freefall that is 'Don't Blame It On Love'.
Overall it's a pretty complete AOR album, and has few weaknesses on it. The stellar vocals of Ms Breznik make it a compelling listen. On the other hand, their follow up album (a self titled one at that) from 1990 was a little disappointing, and doesn't quite reach the heights of 'Shadows'. Stick with this one instead.
01 Put Out The Fire
02 Last Heartbeat
03 Don't Blame It On Love
04 Don't Let Go
05 Rockabye Angel
06 Spirit Free
07 Hold On
08 Runnin' The Race
10 Amazing Grace
SELF-TITLED Second Album (1990 - Warner Bros.)
‘Private Life’ Album Cover Art
Jennifer Blakeman - keyboards, backing vocals
Kelly Breznik - vocals
Chris Frazier - drums, backing vocals
Danny Johnson - guitars, backing vocals
Steve Kershisnik - bass, backing vocals
Produced by Edward Van Halen and Ted Templeman
A nine days’ wonder…
Though, still a very enjoyable album with all the elements that graced their debut. ‘Private Life’ may sounded better but as far as songwriting goes these songs are the ‘Shadows’. ‘Fallin’ Apart’ is probably my favourite here, with it’s bluesy layed back swing it’s a great track, reminds me even of Janis Joplin had she been alive in the 90s. Though pretty mellow and poppy, ‘Nothin’ To Lose’ stands out from the rest too. Just simply a good pop-song that provides a warm blanket to the listener. All in all the songs just don’t jump out as the ones on the first album did, which was also far more unique. The only remaining factor that’s keeping up with the high standards of the first album is Kelly’s incredible powerful vocals. Goosebumps all over my body any time I hear her sing. (Where have you gone Kelly?!!)
1. Touch Me
3. Fallin' Apart
5. Night All Night
6. Nothin' To Lose
7. Give It Up
9. Cure For Love
Preview snippets for both albums can be found on the iTunes page
Notes on this release:
Not a vinyl transfer this time. It’s a remaster I did from the original promo musicassettes from WB US. I have the first album on vinyl still and once owned the original first CD pressings. A vinyl transfer of the best of the two albums (‘Shadows’) can be expected in the not too far away future.
The tracks in this release are tagged as to fit on one CD. Artwork is included but it’s not the best quality. Those are from the original first WB CD issues. Ofcourse you can choose for yourself if you want to burn them to one or two CDs.
• Note: The reason I did this remaster in 2008 was because of the quite big difference between the two albums' sound. While the second S/T is fine, the first one is a typical 80s AOR style production. There’s nothing wrong with that and there have been released far, far worse productions in that era. But it’s all a bit too clean, sterile if you will and would’ve benefitted from somewhat more power.
Ofcourse, it is what it is and again, nothing wrong with it. But since it’s one of my favourite 80s AOR albums and spinned regularly I wanted to see if I could pimp it a bit. I used the original HQ chrome musicassettes (promo) since these seemed to sound the most analog and warm. Captured the output of a Denon DRM-600 using Cubase’s brilliant 32 bit TrueTape™ compression technique. So, in contrary to what I usually prefer I compressed the music to reach for that wanted oomph. I’m quite fond of the results, though I must say that it is not necessarily better as the original.
EddylitE - december 2009
©2009 - Hipper than Hell Records * Eddy_litE appears courtesy of himself * You have been Aped
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