Billy Newton-Davis - Love Is A Contact Sport (1986/Columbia)

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It is no secret that Canada has always been one of the top countries when it comes to the lighter side of AOR, and more particurarly the genre known as high-tech AOR. Cats Can Fly, Body Electric, Platinum Blonde, Glass Tiger...the list of high quality acts to come out of the country is very long and impressive.

Not as known amongst the larger AOR crowd is this 1986 gem from US born canadian singer Billy Newton-Davis titled "Love Is A Contact Sport". Part of the reason might be that Newton-Davis is more widely known as an artist within the R&B/soul field, but digging deeper into his 80's albums there's actually more than enough high-tech AOR leanings in the music to keep most fans of the genre intrested. More specifically, Davis' music is a mixed bag

of R&B, pop and soul with the production style and often

 

prominent guitars consequently pushing the material in a more AOR'ish direction, not unlike Alan Gorrie´s wonderful "Sleepless Nights" album from the year before.

"Love Is A Contact Sport" features 9 tracks, most of which were co-written by Davis himself with some being provided by outside writers. Opening track "Deeper", for example, was written by Michael Bolton and Doug James and is a really good tune with a chorus that sticks like glue. Another highlight is the quirky but great "Electricity" that was originally recorded by the late Dan Hartman in 1984 and which Davis covers effortlessly.

The title track, once again, sounds like something that could have been on the Alan Gorrie album; upbeat and poppy, but still with enough bite to qualify as high-tech AOR.

Thankfully, most of the material follows the same theme and the ballads are kept to minimum, with the only possible exception the semi-ballad like "Perfect Love" - although definitely a good song in it's own right.

Newton-Davis would release the follow-up album "Spellbound" in 1989, earning the Juno Award for best R&B/soul recording and scoring his biggest Canadian chart hit with "I Can't Take It". Another worthwhile album with a handful of really good tracks, even if I hold "Love Is A Contact Sport" as the better and more consistent of the two.

A nightmare to track down on CD, your best bet getting a physical copy of the album would be on LP of which copies does show up on ebay from time to time.

This album might not qualify as a bonafide classic, but is definitely an enjoyable listen and a good solid addition to any Lite AOR collection. Recommended.

 

KIM PALMER

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