You’ve Seen The Difference

Last September I reminisced about some of the LPs my college radio station had gotten gratis from the record store where we purchased 45s to play on the air. Not surprisingly, my list wasn’t exhaustive, and an omission or two has surfaced in my head since then. Here’s a bit about one of them.

…in a chamber (that’s how it was stylized on the cover) was the first album released by Bay Area band Wire Train. It came out on 415 Records, which had just signed a distribution agreement with Columbia, and was produced by then-415 A & R guy David Kahne (Translator was a label-mate, and Kahne produced their early stuff, too). “Chamber of Hellos” was the putative single, and I do hear it every so often these days on SiriusXM’s 1st Wave. But that’s not the song that caught my ear when I threw a chamber on one of WTLX’s turntables one late Fall 1983 weekend when it was off the air.

Take a listen to “I Forget It All (When I See You),” and see if you agree that it’s, er, how to put this?–strongly reminiscent–of a tune I happen to adore that got lots of notice, if not chart action, earlier in the year?

I’ve listened to …in a chamber a couple of times in the last 24 hours, and it’s fair to say my reaction is not nearly so enthusiastic as that of Allmusic Reviewer Tim Sendra (“…unspools like a greatest hits collection…’Chamber of Hellos‘ is the big hit, an almost insanely catchy modern pop rocker that has the kind of chorus that’s instantly recognizable after many decades.”). Overall I had trouble differentiating one track from another, and while they don’t have an unpleasant sound, I don’t currently feel the need to go back to this album all that often. It probably says something that the copy-cattish “I Forget It All (When I See You)” manages to stand out to me as a relative highlight. (Sendra does note the similarity I hear, for what that’s worth, and thinks it compares not unfavorably with the ‘original.’)

Wire Train stayed together in one form or another for almost a decade, releasing another four albums. …in a chamber turned out to be the only one that ever charted (peaking at #143), though I did see some of the others in record stores over the years.

(This is an expansion on a point I made in passing three years ago.)

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