Michael Sembello – Without Walls [1986]

MICHAELSEMBELLO_WWCountry USA          

Style WestCoast AOR

Rating 87/100

Band Members Michael Sembello – Lead Vocals,Guitar,Keyboards, Tata Vega – Vocals on ‘Wonder Where You Are’, Steve Rippley,Bud Rizzo,Jennifer Batten – Guitars, Randy Waldman – Keyboards, Richard Rudolph – Bass, Danny Sembello – Bass,Keyboards, Vinnie Colaiuta,Carlos Vega – Drums, Ron Powell – Percussion, Dennis Matkosky,Steve Porcaro – Synthesizers, David Boruff – Saxophone, Herb Alpert – Horns, Stevie Wonder – Harmonica,Backing Vocals, Bobby Caldwell,Cruz Sembello,Danny Sembello – Backing Vocals

Tracks 01. What You Really Want, 02. Last To Know, 03. Funkabilly Swing, 04. Is This The Way To Paradise, 05. Burn It Up, 06. Angelina, 07. Tear Down The Walls, 08. Gravity (Special Dance Mix), 09. Wonder Where You Are, 10. Dangerous, 11. The Picture

Profile Michael Sembello released his debut album in 1983 and the song ‘Maniac’, included in the movie Flashdance, won the following year’s Grammy in its category and become the third highest grossing song from a soundtrack. Due to this fulminant success Michael has spent much of his career writing and performing music for movies and TV shows, so his solo discography is quite narrowed.

His second solo “Without Walls” is a classic mainstream product of its time: commercial but elaborated Pop-Rock AOR with some Westcoast throwing in. “What You Really Want” opens the disc with catchy temperament, featuring a very good guitar riff and solo. This track is a Lite AOR gem. “Last To Know” is one of those pop tracks that has the necessary essence to stand the test of time, with a solid songwriting in the best Canadian style. “Funkabilly Swing” is obviously a funk-rock&pop song, but the sonic treatment here is quite melodic, and the rhythm guitars are just amazing. The eighties magic returns with the AORish “Is This the Way To Paradise”, where Michael sings (especially the chorus) fiercely, and the guitar / keyboard tandem enrich the tune.

“Burn It Up” is another highlight. A pure ’80s uptempo track with an action-movie style. “Angelina” and particularly “Wonder Where You Are” are smooth Westcoast numbers, while “Dangerous” and “Gravity” are commercial, almost danceable tracks. The latter was included into the ‘Cocoon’ soundtrack and the mix is done with the typical studio trickery of the era. “Tear Down The Walls” is a marching, anthemic pop-rocker. This song was later recorded by Argentine musician Miguel Mateos (produced by Sembello) and become a latin hit. “The Picture” is another enormous eighties winner song, with excellent guitar work (Jennifer Batten plays here uncredited), processed drums and glossy production.

“Without Walls” is a terrific album in the classy mid-eighties style, with great songs, superb musicians involved and lush production. “Angelina” and “The Picture” are only exclusive to Japanese CD version, the only country which had the privilege to see the album released on this format.

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Michael Sembello - Without Walls [1986], 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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2 Responses to “Michael Sembello – Without Walls [1986]”

  1. marie fiori says:

    sorry to here about your brother danny………………we here in Ardmore..as well as his neighbors on chestnut ave………will miss him a lot……………

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  2. Spin That 45 says:

    Your review leaves out a very important person and one that both Michael and Danny depended on for building all the synth sounds. Longtime friend and collaborator; Casey Young.
    https://www.discogs.com/Michael-Sembello-Without-Walls/release/584547

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