Origin: New Jersey, New York (USA)
|Ernie Gold - Skip Parker - Danny Gold - Jon Fiore - Ed Bettinelli|
st - 1983
- Another fantastic period AOR band which is considered to be another ambassador of the G-DAZE website. Preview originated from the New Jersey/New York area, and have a lot in common with AOR colleagues Franke And The Knockouts and I-Ten, playing in a similar style, and all containing great singers, and here on this album Jon Fiore adds a melodic shine similar in many ways to someone like John Blanco from SPYS. To be fair though, if you were to slap on I-Ten's 'Taking A Cold Look' album from the same year, you'd be hard pressed to find a difference such is the similarity.
All the hallmarks of a typical glory days AOR band are contained within this album. The opener 'All Night' is a warm radio friendly workout, followed by the AORtastic 'Open Up Your Heart' complete with stabbing keyboards so prevalent of bands from this era. 'So Blind' is typically 80's sounding, like an early Rick Springfield, while we meander along with the ballad 'Running Back' which never rises to any great heights unfortunately. An attempt at hi-tech AOR emanates on 'Never Hold Back' which isn't half bad, while the most upbeat track is their single 'Red Lights' perhaps the song which best reflects their overall sound. 'Love Finds A Way' is very I-Ten flavoured, especially those Rhodes piano lines from Ernie Gold. I really think producer Keith Olsen had the phrase 'carbon copy' in mind when he mixed this track. Keyboards are a flurry on 'Can't You See' while Fiore could be auditioning for Coney Hatch so good is his Carl Dixon impression. 'It's Over' winds us down in the wimpiest manner possible.
You gotta say.. the production from Olsen on this one really does make Preview sound fresh. I think any other producer would have killed it, but perhaps the sound was not what the industry wanted at the time, but hey, who gives a damn about the industry. This is how AOR should've been played and appreciated. Well needless to say, this album is again as rare as a bucktooth guppy, and one of those titles on the most wanted list for a release on CD. Not much heard of the band members though Jon Fiore sang backing vocals on a few albums (ie Valentine) and as we all know went solo some years after this album and signed to German label MTM Music where he has released two albums to date with a bit of help from the guys in Harem Scarem. -
- Let's have a look at the rise of Preview first. The brothers Ernie (keyboards) and Danny Gold (guitar) had been playing in bands together since they were teenagers. To enter one of the famous 'Band Battle Contests', they started a new band and enlisted the services of their childhood friend Skip Parker (bass). Scoring some free studio time wasn't difficult, as daddy Gold was working as a record engineer at the time. After having played material from Led Zeppelin to Yes, Ernie Gold wasn't faced with many difficulties when he started to write material of his own. After rehearsing that material, they ran ads for a lead vocalist and a drummer and several auditions later they first added Jon Fiore (vocals) and then Ed Bettinelli (drums). The guys were very dedicated and played almost any club possible. Opening slots started coming their way and many of these took place at The Fast Lane club in New Jersey. Owner Phil D'Angelo liked the band very much and added them to the bill whenever it was possible. Another guy that opened doors for the band at the time was their good friend Jim GiAntonio. As a matter of fact, he was the one that introduced Preview to studio owner Ken Wallace and it was at Ken's studio that some of the early demos were recorded. But the persons who really got the ball rolling for Preview were Ray L. Ovetsky and his assistant Julie Hooker. At Kingdom Sound Studios the band recorded four songs for a demo meant to shop for a deal. The buzz around the band started to grow and several A&R people came to see the band in the rehearsal room. One of them was John Kalodner and to cut a long story short, he was the one that signed Preview for Geffen and introduced the guys to producer Keith Olsen. The whole Preview story can be found in detail in the liner notes that were written by Danny Gold himself.
Originally released in September 1983, the 'Preview' album is one that really deserves to be called a classic. Although its total running time is a little more than half an hour, it's a pleasure to listen to from the opening notes of 'All Night' to the final ones of 'It's Over'. Six of the ten songs were written by Ernie Gold, while three others were co-written by Gold and Alan Pasqua (Giant!) and one by Fiore and Pasqua. All of them are AOR pearls and after listening to the album over and over again, I can only conclude that it was a pity this band only recorded one album. -
- Preview frontman Jon Fiore talks about the band's one and only album and his views on why success alluded the band, despite seemingly having all their cards lined up. He also talks about the Fiore albums recorded with the Harem Scarem guys and life as a session singer.
Ok Jon, so it's great to talk to you again. It's been a long while. I was looking back through the site and it was 1998 when we last did an interview.
Yeah, it was a long time ago when we were doing all that stuff with Harry and whatnot.
I'll go over all that again but I thought I'd start back at the beginning.
Well, you're back on the CD shelves with Preview again.
I know, that's kinda nice. It's nice that it was out. I remember when those guys called me from Rock Candy and they said that they were gonna do the re-release. That was nice, you know, you don't expect much of any of this stuff to happen.
Well it's great for the collectors.
Yeah it's nice that it can get out there again and who knows? I don't know how it did, so.
I don't think it's been out there too long so I'm not sure either. It hasn't been on CD before has it?
No and that's a good thing. They said they were gonna send me one. They sent me early CDs of what they did to give me a sample of what they did. They sent Judas Priest and a whole bunch of Riot and stuff like that. I looked nice and I said great when it comes out send it to me.
So it was 1983, twenty four years ago!
Yeah, long time.
What first springs to mind now, when you think of Preview?
For me it was exciting because it was the beginning. It was the beginning of getting a record deal, I was young and we had that opportunity and we got there. We had the record deal.
It was an interesting time. It was fun. It was hard work but it was a lot of fun. Getting up into the record deal, you know how it is…it was a lot of work it's not just luck. Its years and years of traveling to and from Long Island where the Gold brothers lived and I would work with them. We'd just work on these songs and record and just do it. It was a lot of work, a lot of money, a lot of my own money just getting to and from. But we all wanted the same end result and we got there. Unfortunately we just didn't have the success we thought we'd have.
I was reading through the liner notes from the re-issue which guitarist Danny Gold wrote.
I didn't know that he got to write the linear notes.
Yeah, it's a really nice and fairly detailed little story.
Well don't forget, it's their interpretation of what they want it to sound like… (laughing)
The thing that struck me about reading the notes was, I mean you had a major label, you had major management, and you had Keith Olson producing the album. We had everything.
Yes, you had everything. So why didn't it work out?
Did you happen to see the Keith Olson story on this?
Oh, you should check that out. If you Google my name you'll get a whole bunch of things and eventually you'll pull up Keith Olson's interview for Preview. Or maybe if you just Google Keith Olson and punch in Preview and see what happens.
I actually interviewed Keith but I can't remember if we talked about Preview.
Well Keith did a whole article or an interview on Preview and what he thought about the group. It's interesting. His thoughts were like the group should have never been signed and I'm surprised because he was there. He was the one that came and saw us.
He actually said you shouldn't have been signed?
Yeah, you know I guess someone asked him about his success as a producer. I don't know who was giving the interview or how our names came up. Maybe it was how many groups that you wish would have happened that never did or something like that. He said Preview, but his story was interesting.
Interview Link: www.angelfire.com/zine2/strutterzine/KEITHOLSENINTERVIEW.htm
In a nutshell, what did he think you were missing?
Well we had problems in the studio. Again, the fault of the record really not coming out was really because, you mean you don't know the story? Did these guys ever explain it to you?
Oh, what happened was, we had four labels vying to sign us. So we were hot. We were rockin'. Someone saw something in us. They liked us. We had great songs…another group, another look you know, whatever. We could have been anyone of those other groups that sustained.
We could have been the Bon Jovi. I think what happed was when we went with Geffen we were all like a little bit, “yeah let's go with Geffen. He's coming back, starting a new label he had John Lennon, Elton John you know, the superstars on there”. We're saying “how do you miss with a guy like this?”
Epic was offering us a deal. Chrysalis was offering us a deal. We went with the Geffen thing. They flew Keith Olson to New York to see us and Keith obviously liked what he saw. I'm not trying to boast, but from what I understand he loved my voice and he loved the songs. That's what got him and he even says that in the interview. Great singer, great voice you know.
When we got into the studio he felt a lot of the guys couldn't cut the tracks. So there was that issue going on. He wanted his studio guys to come in. Whether or not it was easier for him to cut a record like that rather than work with the group, work with the tedium of doing all that. Whatever it was, we were young, we were naïve. I remember the guys were upset. You can't blame them. They felt like this was their chance and Keith doesn't want to use them on the record. He wants his studio guys. He has this core of guys that he used like on the Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar records and that was his core.
So he felt like that's what he wanted to do. The guys were upset so were went to David and he said let Keith do what he wants to do. He's gonna make you stars. That's what his words were. I remember plain as day being in his office and him saying let him do what they want to do. “He's gonna make you stars”.
And me, as far as I'm concerned, I'm saying I wanna do whatever it takes to get to the next step. Get the power, get the next record out. It was a tough time, it was a tough task.
It wasn't an easy time. It's a funny, funny thing. I mean I've got some stories. I mean I got that song on the record It's Over that I wrote because Keith Olson heard it and said where'd this come from? It was a tough time.
That was your only writing credit on the album, right?
Well that was the reason. I wanted to write more songs, but those guys wanted to do writing and I was the singer, the frontman. I mean, no offence, it was a tough time but it pissed them off that I was on the front of the album.
I did everything I could do to just hang in there. That's how it was. I'm a firm believer that people get what they deserve. Unfortunately we didn't get the success out of that but luckily I went on and did very well in other areas. I don't know how well they did. I know Ernie went on and wrote on or two songs that became hits…he had a hit song with Taylor Dane but I don't know after that. I was lucky enough to be a studio guy for twenty years so I did pretty well. I ended up writing for a lot of artists after a while too.
I've talked to a lot of bands and songwriters over the years. The whole control issue and who has it – the label or the artist – is a similar problem isn't it?
Yeah, it's a similar problem. You work it out eventually. You usually let things like that go in the beginning and sort of wait until you get the success under your belt and then things change. I realized that. I thought, you know what, fine let's get a hit record then we'll come back and we're all gonna be more valuable to each other. Especially if they want me to sing the songs, you know what I'm saying?
It seems that guys that perhaps didn't find success on albums like this, even though they're cult favorites….the guys that ended up better off are the ones that did turn to songwriting.
Right, exactly, songwriting is the best. That's where you're gonna make your money.
I don't know if you can talk specifically but what is the value of having a hit song as a songwriter?
It's hard to say what a value is but luckily over the years working with a lot of R&B guys I've had pieces of songs. It's hard to say what the value is but you can't think in terms of one or two or three you just have to do a lot because it all adds up. And it's all different for everyone.
Some people do publishing deals so they'll get some money up front and they're betting that the songs are gonna do well. You can go either way. The good thing is you have the money in your hands whether it could be several hundred thousand dollars, a million or a half a million, whatever.
Then if nothing happens you have that money at least. But if something happens you win also, but you're giving up a little bit because they're loaning you the money. It's a totally different thing. You gamble when you don't get.
I other words, we in Preview, we were in a position where we, and back in those days you could get a chunk of money in advance - so if you've got a label that's so hot on you that, they were talking about Preview being a big, big, big group, Keith Olson, this and that - you strike while the iron's hot.
We're talking to Geffen records. We're talking to this label and that money and they're offering us a nice chunk of money back then. And since I was a writer on one of the songs I was part of it. So I remember going into these meetings. It was like the Gold's don't want to do it. They don't want to give it up. They want to hold it and it's their right to do it, but it turns off certain people. I think it turned off Geffen records in a way.
I just think that they felt that they were going to be a problem later on down the road. I don't know what it was exactly but to be honest with you…it's not their fault that the record didn't do well.
The problem really lied between when it took so long to get the record finished because of the problems. Keith was doing a lot of drugs, a lot of cocaine back then. I'm not saying he didn't do it on everybody else's records. We weren't the only ones, but our luck and our timing just didn't work out.
I also, maybe more so I blame John Kalodner the guy who signed us. He's the guy. He loved us. It was up to him to be in that studio listening to the record, finding out what wasn't right and what we needed to do to change it. But instead he said well let Keith do it. Keith's gonna do it. Then in the end when he gets the record and the record is maybe not what he expected it to be who do you blame? You can't blame us because we're being told what to do by Keith and Keith has no direction from Kalodner because Kalodner hasn't been listening to it. So it's really a tough situation. Kalodner gets the record and maybe by then, a year or year and a half later, they're not as excited. Things are changing. Music changes like anything else. So they try and remix it.
They got a guy to change it, make it heavier. I think they wanted it more like Def Leppard. Maybe Def Leppard started to happen then. Who knows? Don't forget they put the record out and we had no video. That was the time of MTV. We were an MTV band but there was no video involved.
In fact I remember that they didn't even want to put this record out. The label, as far as they were concerned, they weren't excited over it whatever the reason. Our manager and with our pressure they put it out and they were hoping maybe with the little airplay it would get something would happen with it. Unless you promote something it doesn't happen. It happened to be a good record. I mean there was a hit song on there.
Oh it's a great record. You can tell the era it came from but it's still a very fresh record.
Yeah it's a great record. Everybody who hears it loves it. I love the record. I still listen to it to this day.
So that's pretty much the Preview thing. Then when we were ready to talk about doing the second record again we did demos and we had some good songs. I just think maybe they saw the problems and that was pretty much it. The drummer playing on the record, Ed Bettinelli…nice guy and he played some songs but the bass player wasn't there.
It is a shame it didn't work out.
Getting back to you…what was your first job as a session guy?
Well after that when they didn't pick up the second record I just got lucky. I came back to NYC and our manager at that time knew somebody who was writing commercial jingles and doing session stuff in NYC. Big time, they were very successful. They were writing all the major car commercials and stuff like that. They needed a rock guy to so a song and I came in and here I am singing with these guys and they don't look like me. I have long hair and an earring in my ear and stuff like that ya know. But that's the voice they wanted and I got lucky. From there on I just kept doing them one by one. It took a little while. It didn't happen over night. Maybe it took about half a year. I did a lot of demos and stuff like that. Then when I got my first commercial on the air, I think it was Soft 'n Dry deodorant or something like that, then it just took off and I was doing everything. I was hot for a long time. I was singing everything. I'd work with all the top session guys. The next thing I knew that's what I was doing every day.
Wow, and that's been very lucrative for you?
Oh, it was ten hours a day working in the studio. But the interesting thing was that you got paid for it instantly. It was all union. I don't know if you know anything about this but it was all union work. You're an actor in SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and then you get residuals on top of that. So coming from the Preview thing, you know we did the touring for about a year or so and had the fun of the big tours with the Pat Benatar's and the Asia's and opening up for all those groups. It was exciting but it wasn't fun being an opening act. You just wait for that time and you can see that it could happen. And you say wow if we could only have that hit record it would make a big difference. Just that one hit could start it off. I wasn't meant to be but anyway.
So the commercial thing ended up and that was a long, long, long run. Then Michael Bolton came back into making commercials. He couldn't get locked up in records then all of a sudden I met him in commercials. You know his rock thing didn't really do that well. (laughter)
So all of a sudden he's doing commercials with me because his manager had another guy who had been doing commercials for a long time. Another guy like me who'd had a couple of records. There are a lot of guys like that. We all had that similar thing. They all had records but it didn't happen for them. Some of the writers for the jingle companies did too. Some of them had some success.
It was a lucrative business because some of them had hit records on the outside that they wrote for people but they knew that they could do so well in commercials that they were writing commercials. If you're a writer you write, if you're a singer you sing. That's what you're supposed to do. If you can't find a place to do it then you shouldn't be doing it. You can't just sit by the phone and wait. It's just like an actor. Are you just gonna sit and wait for your next role? If you love it you don't do it for the money you do it for the art and you go out and find a place to act. Whether it's in a play, a musical or this or that you've gotta find a vehicle for your creativity.
Are you still doing that yourself today?
I'm still doing some writing. My last success was some songs I wrote with another friend for George Benson. We had three songs on his record which came out last year. The name of the record was Irreplaceable. It did fairly well. It was out in Europe and I still see the residuals that come out through my ASCAP. I wrote the title song called Irreplaceable and another song called Strings of Love. I co-wrote that with a couple of guys that were very successful songwriters. And another song called Six Play. So we wrote six songs and we had a Grammy nomination. Not for one of our songs but George always get Grammy nominations. So there was an instrumental on there that got nominated. George won Grammies this year for a record he has out with Al Jarreau. In fact he's coming here on the 11th of April and we're gonna see him. So that was a highlight when that happened last year. That was fun. Still do some writing and feel like I still have some good songs left. I still do some singing here and there. I haven't done any recording in a while.
(Interview: Jon Fiore http://www.melodic-rock.com/interviews/jonfiore07.html)