PAUL SABU

Country USA

Style Melodic Hard Rock

Producer, artist, writer and guitarist Paul Sabu was born on January 2nd, 1957 in Los Angeles, California. By the age of two he was plucking strings on a Sears Silvertone guitar. Fortunately he upgraded to a Stratocaster by age 15 and the seeds of what would become a remarkable career were sown. In 1976, he recruited friends Rick Bozzo, Dan Holmes, Steffen Presley and two others into a band he named Sabu, after his late father. The group would play clubs in and around Los Angeles all while Paul was in pre-Med school. At one such gig in Hollywood, in 1979, he met Marc Kreiner a well established publisher. Approaching him after the
 show, the publisher communicated how impressed he was by Paul’s arrangements, songs and guitar playing. “He said to me, ‘Do you do any Disco?'” Surprised but not offended by the question, Paul responded: “No, but I’m great at emulating styles, so if you play it to me, then I can do it.” “For some reason, he just liked me and gave me a break,”Paul would later say. “God was looking down on me and gave me a chance.” Initially in partnership with Tom Cossie, Kreiner had cut simultaneous album deals with the MCA label and an independent imprint Ocean Records.

The 22 year old was no longer a student in Med school, instead he was cutting demos and working A & R for Kreiner and Cossie’s Disco-oriented MK Productions. “I was like a sponge for knowledge, and learned anything I could,” Sabu told interviewer Brian Rademacher. “I would stay up all night, sweeping and cleaning the studio just to hear others work, to learn new tricks, anything.” Within a very short time, Paul Sabu had developed the studio chops to produce artists on his own. His first act was a bubbly nightclub singer from Baltimore, Maryland named Debbie Jacobs. The two collaborated on her debut album 1979’s “Undercover Lover.” The MCA Records release spawned two very successful 12″ singles. The title track was the first release and placed in the top 40 of the club charts. The second release, “Don’t You Want My Love,” however shot up the charts and became a bona fide top five club hit. A third track from the album, “Hot Hot (Give It All You Got),” helped cement her status as a high energy diva. With brisk sales of her first album and strong chart action, a second LP was commissioned by MCA. Once again Sabu assembled the same group of musicians and background singers at the same L.A. studio. Having perfected “her sound” the previous year it wasn’t hard to deliver a top notch piece of product. 1980’s “High On Your Love” was a six track tour de force. The title track easily became her most recognizable number, while a stunning remixed version of “Hot Hot (Give It All You Got)” became a hit all over again.

Next Paul turned his focus onto another would be diva Gwen Jonae. For her first recordings Paul coupled her with the female duo he had used on Debbie Jacobs recordings and created Sister Power. The “Sister Power” album was released to DJ’s in a two 12″ singles package and spawned another club hit with “Gimme Back My Love Affair.” The Ocean Records release would be there only album. However the admiration Paul had for Gwen would result in his producing two 12″ singles for her in 1983 (“Destiny” and “Red Light Lover”). Then Marc Kreiner brought actress/singer Ann-Margret to Paul. Kreiner through his deal with Ocean Records had signed Ann to a record deal. Ann, ready to reignite her recording career, was a perfect match for the upstart producer. Their first collaboration was the sweltering “Love Rush.” Paul’s arrangement and thundering tracks gave Ann her biggest hit ever. The song hit #-8 in October 1979 and it’s success merited a full length album from the two. The Sabu produced “Ann-Margret” album was released on MCA Records and a second 12″ single, “Midnight Message” peaked at #-12 in the spring of 1980. He would give Ann one more club smash in 1981 with “Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime.”

Closing out 1979, Paul along with his friends from his 1976 group, released their own self-titled album for Ocean Records. “Sabu” spawned the 12″ single hit “We’re Gonna Rock” which peaked in the Top 20 on club charts. Sabu would have another album the following year on MCA Records with the minor hit “Rock Me Slowly.” Paul would have one more 12″ single in 1983 with “Shotgun.” The single was a solo outing as Paul had severed his ties with his band mates after the dismal sales of their 1980 album. The song was part of his deal with San Francisco based Arial Records.

In 1984 Paul would have one last foray into the disco genre with the artist he had first entered it with. Newly married, Debbie Jacobs was now signed to the Personal label, and in January her latest single was issued with a pink blurb plastered on the front: “Debbie Jacobs-Rock sings “DOCTOR MUSIC,” arranged and recorded by Paul Sabu and produced by Rusty Garner for Endless Music Productions.” The song, a forgettable remake of a 1977 Renée Harris club favorite, was hardly a hit. “Doctor Music” spent just four weeks on the Dance charts and struggled to reach #-50. Paul’s reign as Disco King ended with a resounding thud instead of a bang. Over the last quarter-century.
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Paul then re-formed SABU in 1985 after Kidd Glove to release the outstanding ‘Heartbreak’ album, which included the hit single ‘Angeline’ through the Wolverhampton based Heavy Metal America label in 1985. The Musicians utilised, bassist Rick Bozzo, keyboard player Dan Ellis and drummer Charles Esposito. Up until then, Paul had always relied on outside engineers and mixers to bring out the best of his music, but they had never given him the sound he really wanted. So, with the afterthought of, “I’m sure I can’t do any worse”, he starts the additional job of recording and mixing engineer, while continuing production. On the album, Paul plays all guitars, and does all lead vocals, ‘Heartbreak’ was the first album I produced and engineered myself.

Unfortunately though Paul was to be seriously affected by the Heavy Metal America label going into liquidation, leaving Paul to rethink his strategy, with the result that he promptly put a new band together, the AOR Gods Only Child. Five albums that must not be missed in any AOR collection and that can all be connected to the name of Paul Sabu are Alexa’s self-titled album, Kidd Glove’s self-titled album, Paul Sabu’s “Heartbreak”, Only Child’s self-titled album and Shania Twain’s “Beginnings” (full of AOR instead of the country rock she later became famous for). “Only Child” was originally released by Capitol in 1988 and is still regarded – by many – as Paul Sabu’s best ever. I’ve just compiled a list of 100 albums of all times and Only Child’s debut album is one of them. Why? That’s easy! It contains first-class songs like the opening rocker “Just Ask”, a heavenly “Always” and sing-along-songs as “I Believe In You” and “Shot Around The World”. On the re-issue, which has been digitally remastered by Robert Papst (still remember him?) and released by YesterRock, two bonus tracks have been added to the original ten:

“Young Guns” and “Vice Versa”, both coming from films of the same name. If my words can’t convince you, then I can refer you to Kerrang! that once published a top-40 list of AOR albums of all times. “Only Child” ended in the 22nd place. Sabu got back into production handling songwriting & production duties for an album that was by singer Eilleen Edwards. These sessions would reappear in 1999 as ‘Wild & Wicked’ after Edwards had made her mark globally rechristened Shania Twain.

Paul Sabu would later hook up with ex-Bonfire members Joerg Deisinger and Angel Schlieffer to form a proposed new version of Only Child. However, as it transpired the new group took on the SABU title. The resulting product, seeing Derek Smith on drums, was considerably heavier than past SABU material, taking on a harder sound and with Paul Sabu’s voice remarkably rougher in approach. This band also cut the 1998 ‘Between The Light’ album, this effort, including a cover version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Was Made To Love Her’, having both Smith and Tony Montana sessioning on drums. Further Sabu albums’s such as ‘Strange Messiah and ‘High & Mighty’ provides even more awarded praise.

Over the last quarter-century, Paul has sharpened his talents as a producer, session guitarist and songwriter, releasing albums under Paul Sabu, Sabu & Only Child. His name is a familiar one to music industry veterans, most of whom know little or nothing about his disco productions.

His work with artists such as David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Little Caesar, Lee Aaron, Madonna, Malice, Robbie Neville, Motels, The Nelsons, Prince, John Waite, Tattoo Rodeo, Fatal Smile, and Shania Twain have earned him fourteen Platinum and eleven Gold records.

He also has a lot of movie and tv series soundtrack credits, among which are Accused, American Drive-In, Assault Of The Killer Bimbos, Baywatch, Beverly Hill 90210, Diving In, Ghost Town, Goulies II, Hard Rock Zombies, Meatballs 4, Million Dollar Mystery, Sex And The City, To Die For, Trick Or Treat, Twin Sitters, Vice Versa, and many more. His own musical vehicles were Sabu and Only Child, bands with which he recorded albums that were described as big sounding, with lots of depth, fat keyboards, blistering guitars, and vocals combined with a great chorus. No small wonder that he was the darling of several Melodic Rock magazines, who dubbed him L.A. Session King and AOR hero! Paul Sabu’s albums are still much Very sought-after items among AOR lovers, and his reputation as an AOR God still holds today.

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– Heartbreak [1985]
– Paul Sabu [1993]
– In Dreams [1995]
– Strange Messiah [2007]
– Call Of The Wild [2011]
– Bangkok Rules [2012]

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