80′s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Stabilizers (Erie, PA)

This obscure gem was brought to my attention by a kind reader named “Personage.” I am very grateful for the information – one listen to a track uploaded to YouTube, and I was hooked.

The Stabilizers were actually more of a duo rather than a band, the core of which was made up of Richard Nevens (guitars, keyboards) and Dave Christenson (vocals). The duo toured the Pennsylvania area, along with session musicians, for several years before being discovered by and signed to Columbia. Using music recorded on 4-track equipment, they released what would be their only LP of original music called Tyranny.

I have had the pleasure of finding and listening to this album in total. My take on this group is that they were the penultimate 80′s New Wave band, blending the sounds and styles of several accomplished groups and artists of the same era. “One Simple Thing,” a single from Tyranny, peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Another single, “Tyranny,” was released, but failed to chart. Even though the duo had started recording tracks for a second album, it was never released.

I am not one to echo what I have read from other music reviews, preferring to form my own opinions; but “One Simple Thing,” as well as other tracks from Tyranny, appear to have strong influences from such Stabilizers contemporaries as A-Ha and The Fixx. Christenson’s vocals are on a par with Morten Harket’s – full-range, perfect pitch, and earnest. Musically, the blend of synths, guitars, and other assorted instrumentation conjures up memories of The Fixx and Canada’s Eight Seconds. All in all, this was a magnificently listenable band that for mysterious reasons just did not break through.

One unreleased track showed up as part of the soundtrack for the 1991 movie “If Looks Could Kill.” The title of this song is “Maybe This Time.” Not as strong as the tracks from Tyranny, it is still a polished creation that hints of what might have been forthcoming had the duo not called it quits.

Take the time to listen to the two Stabilizers tracks that are still up on YouTube. Also, there is a MySpace page you can go to and listen to/purchase the entire Tyranny album. Meanwhile, you can also purchase their music on iTunes and Amazon. Serious 80′s New Wave audiophiles who were in the dark about this duo, like me, will be very glad for the chance.

Enjoy!

“One Simple Thing” via YouTube user eriesummer85:

“Tyranny” via YouTube user mrbriefcasetv2:

Discography

Tyranny (1986)

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15 thoughts on “80′s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Stabilizers (Erie, PA)

  1. Oh my! I have a lot to catch up on. I am thrilled that there’s a cool band from Erie, PA. I sometimes claim to be from there because its the coolest town name in North America.

  2. Happy New Year ((((((Joey)))))

    They happen to be a cool band from a cool-sounding city. :-) I hope you’ll check them out. All the best to you for a great 2010!

    Hugs,
    MissP
    xo

  3. The original band, I don’t recall the name, was VERY hot in Erie and amazing live. Rich was not part of the original band. The other key member turned down the offer from Columbia records in order to attend law school. He played sax, keyboards and sang. I don’t remember the fellows name any longer. Believe me, that first 4 or 5 piece band had the magic. The music on the videos is slow, repetitive, kind of washed out sounding compared to Dave’s early days.

  4. Thanks, Jeff, for another view of this band. I love hearing from people that knew the band back in the day, heard them live, were fans, etc. I really appreciate that you took the time to throw in your two cents’ worth. :-)

    All the best,
    MissP
    x

  5. It is very strange that just yesterday I was at a party in Erie, PA and met a family member of one of original band members – one of the two that did not stay with the band.

    I recall seeing these guys for a year or two before they released their album nationally in the mid-80s. (And yes, I said album – I’m old. LOL)

    I was in college and remember seeing these guys regularly at various clubs around town whenever I came home for a break. My favorite was a place right along the lakefront called the “P.I.” (the Presque Isle inn.)

    Their big “send off” took place in the summer of ’85 (I think) where they performed at a summer event called “We Love Erie” days. There must have been thousands of people at this outdoor concert in the center of the city. We all thought this was the beginning of something really big for them.

    I still listen to the CD quite often – and have always thought “If I found Rome” is about the city of Erie – telling the story of someone who grew up here, left and returned to find a city that is proud but struggling to survive, as many have left this region over the years. “If I found Rome today, would it be the same?”

    Just my take.

    I really love every song on the CD, including Tyranny and “I don’t need the pain.”

    Very wild I was having a discussion about the band just 24 hours ago and then stumble across this exchange.

  6. Hey PGG – I really appreciate your point of view. I am actually learning more about the band from people like you leaving comments than what I could find on the internet. I had to LOL when you caught yourself saying “album” – not indicative of being “old” – that’s what they were called back then. :-) I remember making a bet with someone that CDs would never catch on – how naive was that???? But then I also scoffed when I was told back then that one day people would shop, bank, and communicate with computers in nearly every home…..talk about being clueless!

    Thanks again for dropping in and taking the time to share your memories.

    Cheers!
    MissP
    x

  7. I just found my 45 single of “Another American Rock & Roll Story” & “Thinking Of You” from Prophecy, Dave’s pre-Stabilizers band from Erie. (Also other members of the pre-L.A. Stabilizers).

  8. Hey, I found an old billboard from the original Prophecy dated 1982 where they played for 4 hours at the Playland resort in Meadville. If any original member of the band would like it, just comment.

  9. I have over 1500 cd’s – mostly from the 1980′s this album is my all time favourite, an absolute gem that sounds as fresh today as when it was released back in 1986.

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