Origin: Detroit, Michigan (USA) then moved to Los Angeles
|Jim McClarty - Kevin Russel - Kevin Chalfant - Phil Bryant - Tod Howarth|
Mega Force - 1982 (with lyrics)
- A Pomp Rock style outfit signed to Casablanca Records. 707, named after the classic American workhorse airliner the Boeing 707, claimed roots in the Mid-Western Rock scene. Having formed in Detroit, Michigan before moving to Los Angeles, the band's intital line-up featured keyboard player Duke McFadden, but he was out of the group by the time the appropriately titled 'The Second Album' was released a year later in 1981 which found the group going in a slightly heavier direction. and relocated in San Francisco. This move to the Bay Area prompted some people, who had never heard the group before, believing that the group hailed from nearby Petaluma as the city possessed the telephone dialing code of 707.
Whilst the band was pictured as a trio on the cover of the second record additional keyboard work came from Andy Celley and THE RUNAWAYS vocalist CHERIE CURRIE sang backing vocals on the track 'Rockin' Is Easy'. On the back of 'The Second Album' the trio was personally invited by REO SPEEDWAGON to open dates on the 'Hi-Infidelity' tour. The group then entered the studio to cut a new album entitled 'The Bridge'. However, these sessions, which found Phil Bryant's original vocal lines re-cut by new singer KEVIN CHALFANT, were strangely shelved.
A third album finally emerged on the newly established Boardwalk label, Neil Bogart's newly established company, having sold off Casablanca to PolyGram in 1980, and 707 was bolstered by the arrival of keyboardist / guitarist Tod Howarth and frontman Kevin Chalfant. The latter had been recruited after months of fruitless searching for a frontman although Russell and McFadden had nothing to feel ashamed about with their vocal performances on the first two albums.
The 'Megaforce' album took its name from one of the band's songs, used as the theme for Golden Harvest the sci-fi motion picture 'Megaforce'. This union fared well for the band as the title track duly delivered a Bilboard hit single. ANGEL bassist Felix Robinson was involved in the final few months of the band's lifespan having worked with Kevin Russell and Jim McClarty some years previously. 707 split up sometime during 1983. Chalfant turning up in 1984 fronting STEELBREEZE and later in the JOURNEY splinter group THE VIEW, which eventually became THE STORM. Russell, meantime, was added to the touring line-up of the short-lived PHANTOM, ROCKER AND SLICK in 1985.
Tod Howarth would later tour with TED NUGENT in early 1984 before joining ex-KISS guitarist Ace Frehley's FREHLEY'S COMET and a reworking of the 707 'Megaforce' track was used on the band's first album under the new title of 'Calling To You'. Kevin Russell would briefly be back in the limelight during 1989 with KEEP, a band unit featuring singer 'Michael McDonald' (actually the WHITE TIGER and BLACK SABBATH credited David Donato under a pseudonym), bassist Joey Mudarri and KISS co-founder PETER CRISS on drums. Russell soon exited from this combo. Howarth subsequently toured as a side musician with CHEAP TRICK following his departure and released a self-financed solo album during 1995.
The first two 707 albums were repackaged and released together on CD in early 1998 by Renaisance Records and after an 18 year gap Russell resurrected the 707 name for a 2000 Blues orientated album 'Trip To Heaven'. Joining the singer were bassist Don Bassey and former WHITESNAKE and HEART drummer Denny Carmassi.
2004 saw MTM Classics releasing the shelved album 'The Bridge' for the first time, adding a further three extra tracks to the original sessions. Kevin Russell announced the formation of retro 70's orientated LET IT ROCK in January 2007, involving a cast of seasoned Rock players comprising vocalist / guitarist Davey Pattison, of GAMMA and the ROBIN TROWER band, bass player Tom Miller, of the GREG ALLMAN and EDDIE MONEY bands, with Andy Doerschuk, of RICK DERRINGER and STEPPENWOLF repute, on the drums. -
- Having formed in the late 70's and recorded two superb AOR albums already, 707 were created in the heart of Los Angeles, despite their origins in Michigan. They added a couple of new recruits to their lineup after the departure of Duke McFadden, and preceded to write and record this AOR flagship album. Come to think of it, nothing less than a classic would have been acceptable with five highly talented songwriters in the band. They could play a bit too ?
We're cleared for takeoff and leaving ground with the title track, surely one of AOR's official flag waving anthems. Tod Howarth's keys are immediately to the fore during the stirring intro, and continue to support the melody throughout. The classic rallying cry chorus sweeps us to cruising altitude, setting the tone for the album. Released as a single, it charted at a respectable #62 on the Billboard charts, but deserved better. 'Can't Hold Back' blasts off with a big hook and waves of synth, developing into another melodic anthem chorus where the superb keys return full force, having disappeared during the verse. 'Get To You' is an entertaining study on the elusiveness of the opposite sex, well arranged and very catchy. Very limited keys on this one, but still an enjoyable romp. 'Out Of The Dark' slows the pace down elegantly, featuring heartfelt vocals and some great chord changes. Once again, super keys from Tod. We're back in powerhouse rock territory with 'Hell Or High Water', bringing out some great riffing and a fierce guitar/keyboard duel, not to mention some clever tempo changes. 'We Will Last' kicks off side two with a majestic array of keys, and builds into another wonderful anthem. On this one Kevin Chalfant sings the chorus alone and brings it off beautifully - a tribute to his much loved vocal talents. Surprisingly, it didn't chart when released as the second single. Next up is the sultry mid tempo strut of 'Hello Girl', you can hear the Frisco influence on this catchy slice of AOR. The unexpected keyboard hook in the middle is a delight, and the vocal duet with Kevin Russell works nicely. Yet another memorable hook, inventive tempo changes and a very catchy chorus provide the magic on 'Write Again'. Opening up with a flurry of drum rolls, 'No Better Feeling' develops into yet another feelgood anthem, focusing on the joys of hitting the open road and opening the throttle. Once again the vocal duties are shared with Kevin Russell, who did most of the vocals on their first two albums. The classy west coast balladry of 'Heartbeat' returns us safely to the runway for a smooth landing, showcasing a more restrained side to the band and yet again, full of trademark 707 melodies and elegant chord changes.
Like so many great AOR records, 'Megaforce' should have sold platinum but didn't, despite it's association with a major film of the same name. Even more disturbing is the fact that it's still awaiting it's debut on CD, and 707 fans everywhere are running out of patience. Reissue companies please take note. Footnote: 'Megaforce' has since seen a reissue on CD courtesy of MTM Classix. -
- Original members: Kevin Russell, Jim McClarty, Duke McFadden & Phil Bryant began in Hollywood in 1978. The band went on to score a couple of rock radio songs that are still on many classic rock radio play lists today. "I Could Be Good For You" & "Megaforce". 707 went through a few personnel changes in it's brief career. Plagued by poor management ,record label politics and inner struggles the band called in quits in 1983. This is all a too familiar story as told time and again on VH1's "Behind The Music". Four young musicians (Duke McFadden, Kevin Russell, Jim McClarty and Phil Bryant) with a dream started the creative process of writing songs at S.I.R. Studios in Hollywood five days a week with an intense creative work schedule. The boys hammered out song idea after idea. Duke,Kevin & Jim being the main contributing songwriters brought new ideas to rehearsal every chance they could. They finally took their music to the live stage. That stage was The Starwood Club in Hollywood. It became 707's home base in the formative years. It didn't take very long for the buzz to spread around town that 707 was the band to see. Selling out show after show around L.A. the band was eventually signed to Casablanca Records (Kiss, Donna Summer, Angel, Cher). The debut record was released in early 1980 which included "I Could Be Good For You". Sadly though shortly after the release of 707's debut album Jim, Kevin & Phil parted ways with Duke. 707's The Second Album was the three guys with hired keyboard players filling in. That record was a shift in musical direction and was much more of a straight ahead rock record. The record produced no real hit single (again record company politics and too many change overs). 707 headed out on their very first national sell out club tour with a hired keyboard player to round the band out.. It was a thrill for the guys to take their music to the fans! After a long and grueling winter tour the guys returned home and set out to find a new fourth member. That was Tod Howarth. 707 was now a 4 piece band again and ready to move ahead. In 1981 707 was asked by REO Speedwagon to open on the very successful "Hi Infidelity Tour". It was a huge tour. 707 played to arena crowds night after night and were loved by the fans every show! 707 went on to record The Bridge, however it was never released due to yet another change in the record company coupled with more poor decisions from management. The Bridge was shelved (it was finally released in 2005). The guys were very let down, but as always they pushed onward with a positive attitude and wrote and recorded Megaforce. Towards the end of the recording process of the the Megforce record the band was getting outside pressures to get a "front singer". This was the trend at the time in melodic rock and so the record company strongly suggested 707 follow the trend. This never went over very well with the guys back then! 707 agreed and hired Kevin Chalfant to re-record many of the vocals on Megaforce and for the Megaforce Tour. Phil Bryant left 707 at the completion of Megaforce. Once again 707 headed out on tour with REO for their "Good Trouble Tour" in 1982. 707 hired bassist Felix Robinson (Angel) to fill in for the Megaforce Tour. Original co-founding member Kevin (Russell) became very disenchanted upon returning home from the Megaforce tour. Far too many inner struggles had taken place and too many poor decisions being made once again by the bands inexperienced management team. 707 was getting further and further away from the original sound and direction of the band. Kevin (Russell) decided to call it quits and by 1983, 707 was finished! In 2000 Kevin Russell was asked by (the ill-fated Bedrock Records) if he would be interested in recording a rock record using 707 as the moniker. Kevin agreed (against his better judgement) and that record was Trip To Heaven. Bedrock Records went under due to their complete inexperience in the record business. Renaissance Records released 707 The Fourth Decade in 2007. This was a record that Kevin put together using material from the early to mid 80's as well as some outtakes from Trip To Heaven. At present Kevin has turn down all offers to record any new 707 records. In Kevin's latest interview he has stated that; " 707 is in the past and I have left it there. The real 707 will always and forever be Duke, Jim, Phil and Kevin. If you have any doubt just go back and listen to the first 707 record. All the other 707 lineups were us trying to find the magic again. 707 is a precious memory of a time when we were four young struggling musicians just trying to be heard. Thanks for listening." -