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)