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Private Lightning

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Private Lightning album cover
01
Physical Speed
4:44
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02
Song of the Kite
5:05
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03
Thriller
3:39
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04
Cultists of True Fun
3:33
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05
Heartbeat
3:28
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06
Bright City
3:59
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07
Side of the Angels
5:04
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08
When You're Laughing
4:12
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09
U.s. Love
3:31
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10
The Moment
4:21
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11
Laugh and Cry
3:48
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12
Light of Lightning
3:03
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13
We All Fall Down
3:34
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14
Geneva
3:14
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15
Give Me the Night
3:09
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16
Fighting Biology
3:05
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17
I Want to Take You Away
3:46
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18
Rock for Real
2:43
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19
Angelinia
3:57
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20
Martha's Song
4:04
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21
Tight With You
3:11
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 21   Total Length: 79:10

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They Say All Music Guide

The tremendous music created in Boston, despite the overwhelming financial success of Aerosmith, the Cars, Bobby Brown, New Edition, New Kids on the Block, and others, never received the respect and opportunity afforded other cities like Seattle, New York, Memphis, and San Francisco. Private Lighting is another case of a band with depth and an overabundance of talent, not getting a fair shake. “Physical Speed” opens this album with the ultimate car song. The theme of Jonathan Richman’s “Roadrunner” reactivated by a band well versed with driving on America’s Technology Highway, Route 128. Vocalist Adam Sherman performed the song over the same backing tracks in French. That version, “Vitesse Physique,” never made it to the disc, but received airplay in New England. Originally produced by songwriter David Wolfert, who also recorded Peter Criss’ 1980 solo disc, Out of Control, at Air Studios, Montserrat, A&M pulled Wolfert from these sessions and the disc ended up being produced and engineered by Robin Geoffrey Cable. The curse of not releasing the demos strikes again. Clearly, the label did not have faith in the original producer, yet the band’s versions of “Song of the Kite” and “Physical Speed” got lots of local airplay in the Boston area, as did the tapes by the Cars before them. This unique band, featuring the violin of Patty Van Ness, the songs and guitar of Paul Van Ness, Sherman’s distinctive voice, augmented by keys, bass, and drums provided by Eric Kaufman, Steve Keith, and Scott Woodman respectively, knew how to record their music. The demos have a bite that is missing on this re-creation. Still, the album has merit. Adam Sherman’s “Heartbeat” has tension, has drive. The drums don’t have the greatest sound in the world and they are up in the mix, à la Roy Thomas Baker’s vision of the Cars. That sound hampers “Bright City” and the rest of the disc. John Cale would have been the perfect producer for this group. He understands string work in a rock context, and his A&R and production work for everyone from the Modern Lovers to Jennifer Warnes and Nico could have brought this mix together successfully. A song like “Cultists of True Fun” demanded that kind of eccentric professionalism. Managed by Fred Heller, who didn’t seem to know what to do with Mott the Hoople, this is a band that should have enjoyed the success that J. Geils and the aforementioned Cars worked hard for and achieved. A truly original sound, songs like “Side of the Angels” needs power rather than the homogenization here. Singer Adam Sherman came to Boston from New York when post-Lou Reed Velvet Underground member George Nardo invited him to be part of the Rockets, a band represented by Velvets manager Steve Sesnick. In 2001, Sherman found a song of his covered by ex-Modern Lover Elliot Murphy and Ian Matthews of Matthews Southern Comfort on their duo disc, proving good talent does get recognized, but also proving that record labels and management can inhibit musical growth. This album is a testament to great music being shipwrecked by the business. You can hear through the production flaws, though, and the magic, somehow, bursts through. – Joe Viglione

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