NEW ENGLAND

Country USA

Style AOR

newengland

New England is a four-piece rock and roll band hailing from Boston, MA. John Fannon (guitar & vocals), Hirsh Gardner (drums and vocals), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards and vocals) and Gary Shea (bass) broke out of the local scene with the release of their self-titled album on Infinity/MCA in 1979. The first single, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya”, became an AOR smash and even cracked the Top 40. The album was produced by Mike Stone and Paul Stanley of Kiss, whom New England toured with for much of 1979 and 1980. For their sophomore effort, entitled Explorer Suite, the foursome once again called upon veteran knob-twirler Mike Stone. Highlights from this album are the orchestral title track, “It’s Never Too Late”, and “Conversation”, which features New England’s trademark lush background vocals. The touring never let up for the boys from Boston as they split their time on the Explorer Suite tour between headlining large clubs and sharing arena billing with Journey, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and Kiss among others.

The group had a live stint supporting Kiss, but New England slid between the cracks of other Aucoin projects. The group’s success stalled when their record label Infinity Recordswas absorbed by its parent company, MCA Records in 1980. The group moved to Elektra Records for their second album, Explorer Suite. That album garnered almost no notice however the first single was the album’s title. Apparently, the powers that be at Elektra wanted “Explorer Suite” released as a single since Queen had their monster hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. However, their songs, “Living In The Eighties” and “Converstation” received more airplay than did the intended single. “Explorer Suite” has since become a sought afterCD by AOR fans. Todd Rundgren’s production on the slightly harder-rocking third album, Walking Wild, also did not improve sales. The perfect choice of a song to release for radio would have been, “Don’t Ever Let Me Go” however that was not the case on this third album. New England then dissolved with Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo joining Alcatrazz.

For the third album, Walking Wild, the legendary Todd Rundgren was at the helm. The results of these sessions were hard-driving anthemic tunes such as “Don’t Ever Let Me Go”, “L-5” (co-written by Fannon, Waldo & Rundgren) and the kick-ass rocker “Holdin’ Out On Me”, which features Hirsh Gardner on lead vocals. The frustration over the lack of label support grew and the band parted ways. While Fannon & Gardner went on to successful careers as producers and Shea & Waldo former Alcatrazz with Graham Bonnet & Yngwie Malmsteen, nothing seemed to match the excitement of New England. The real strength of New England was the combination of four strong & diverse individuals: Fannon’s lead vocals & songwriting, Waldo’s whirling keyboards, Gardner’s driving skin-pounding and high-pitched vocals and Shea’s thunderous bass lines.

After the break-up, all of the members remained in the music industry. In late 2002, New England reunited to record “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, a song from the Hirsh Gardnersolo album, entitled Wasteland For Broken Hearts. It marked the first time the group recorded together in 20 years. In recent years, the band has reunited for a few live concert|shows in the Boston area. Gary and Jimmy guest appearances at various musical instrument conventions such as the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in places like Anaheim, CA.

The reissue label Renaissance Records has released a CD version of the first album, New England. GB Records has released the other two albums on CD, plus a live album and an album of early recording studio/studio sound recordings and reproduction/recordings made before the debut album. In 2009, Wounded Bird Records reissued Explorer Suite and Walking Wild on CD.

DISCOGRAPHYdiscography

NEW_ENGLAND_ST NEW_ENGLAND_ES NEW_ENGLAND_WW

– New England [1979]
– Explorer Suite [1980]
– Walking Wild [1981]

 

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