Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Don Johnson

Origin: Flat Creek, Missouri (USA)

Don Johnson
Don Johnson

Heartbeat - 1986 (with lyrics)


- At the height of his fame as Miami Vice's 'Sonny Crockett' in 1986, Don Johnson landed himself a record deal with CBS/Epic, who most likely saw Johnson's celebrity status as a lucrative money spinner. To ensure the projects  credibility, and musical quality, an eclectic mixture of guest artists were enlisted, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ron Wood, Willie Nelson and Michael Des Barres. This type of talent was supposed to make Don look good, when in reality he was good enough to carry the project with his own voice.

While 'Heartbeat' is  not AOR the whole way through, there are several tracks which fall under the banner, more than making it worthy of inclusion at GDAZE. The title cut is the best known song and was a huge hit back in 1986, reaching no 3 on Billboard if I'm not mistaken. All the AOR ingredients are included, including an addictive chorus. AOR mainstay Chas Sanford adds a melodic guitar solo, although in the video Dweezil Zappa is shown playing it! Johnson dispels the notion this is a joke record with a gutsy, in-key vocal delivery. 'Voice On A Hotline' follows, using searing atmospherics courtesy of some hot sax work, which took a whole two songs to break out. This is followed by a good rocker 'The Last Sound Love Makes' that builds into an intense hookline, which super cool Don belts out in gruff fashion. Zappa adds his real solo on this one. A quality song. However the promise of the first three songs is not kept and the Tom Petty penned 'Lost In Your Eyes' is bland as is the Bob Seger written 'Star Tonight'. 'Coco Don't' is good for a laugh with all it's horns and sax but 'Heartache Away' is victim of a poor chorus, forgettable. 'Love Roulette' is a catchy little number, those horns are killer! Chas Sanford written 'Gotta Get Away' is the hardest rocker on the album, solid riffs and some inspirational lyrics make this a classic. 'Can't Take Your Memory' ends the album on a non-descript note, an MOR ballad that Johnson co-wrote.

It was inevitable that this album would be ridiculed because of an actor trying to sing. Here in the USA that is exactly what happened. MTV ridiculed the song 'Heartbeat' once, smashed the video cassette of the video itself, and put it in a  blender. Sods. But for fans of AOR willing to give it a go, it features some worthy material, typical of the era. Johnson even recorded another album, 1989's 'Let It Roll' which was far inferior and less AOR inclined. But as a vocalist he proved many wrong and had nothing to be ashamed of. Next time you see 'Heartbeat' for a quarter, twenty cents or 10p, make sure you pick it up. Editors Note: The album was re-released on CD in 1999 by Razor And Tie. -


- He is an American actor and recording artist perhaps best known for his lead role as James "Sonny" Crockett in the 1980s television series, Miami Vice. He also played the lead role in the 1990s cop series, Nash Bridges. Johnson is a Golden Globe winning actor for his role in Miami Vice, a winner of the APBA Offshore World Cup, and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also a singer, songwriter, producer, and director...

...Johnson released two albums of pop music in the 1980s, one in 1986 and the other in 1989. His single, "Heartbeat", reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was the title track from his first album, and was a collaboration with Robert Tepper. Johnson is also a good friend of Willie Nelson and Robert Tepper, and was briefly a part of the "Thailand Pack", alongside Tommy Morrison, and British TV funny man Les Dennis. Previously, Johnson worked with Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, co-writing the songs "Blind Love" and "Can't Take It with You" with Dickie Betts, which appeared on their 1979 album, Enlightened Rogues. B.B. King and Jules Taub co-wrote the song "Blind Love", the Allman's covered it. There is no writer's credit to confirm he co-wrote "Can't Take It with You"... -


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