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Voices from history

Russ Ballard – Voices

Some people didn't like what the voice did say
So I took the voice and I locked it away
I got the key, I got the key
Voices, I hear voices
#RussBallard #Voices

Even in the 80s there was someone who really came from history. We have seen many artists who had a notable apprenticeships during the 70s, perhaps on the punk scene, then became absolute innovators in the 80s. I think of Pete Wylie and his The Mighty Wah! with Come Back, or Tony James, along with Billy idol in Generation X and later leader of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and their Love Missile F1-11.

Several artists of the 80s had actually been on the scene since the early 60s, and during the 80s absolutely showed a great touch of modernity. Of course, the thought immediately goes to Paul McCartney and historical duets like Say, Say, Say with Michael Jackson or Ebony and Ivory with Stevie Wonder, but Sir Paul was not the only one.

In mid-October 1984 charts saw the entry of a truly irresistible hit by a great author who certainly had less success than he deserved, not only because he had been on the scene since 1961, but above all because Russ Ballard was also the author of many pieces for people like Roger Daltrey of Who or even for Kiss.

In the 80s, when he was approaching his forties, Russ Ballard wrote two great songs that greatly contributed to the visibility and fame of their performers: You Can Do Magic by America, and above all the beautiful I Know There’s Something Going On by Frida, former member of Abba. Frida had some success as a soloist, but the top of her success was definitely due to this song, written by Russ Ballard and produced by the great Phil Collins who also played drums, recognizable by his phenomenal “gated reverb” technique.

To be honest, the good Russ already had five solo albums in his career. His sixth album, which was titled Russ Ballard, exactly like his first album, featured the song that will project him forever in the history of the 80s: Voices.

Voices is, in my very humble opinion, an exceptional song for two reasons. Surely for the text, hermetic at the right point, which speaks of these unidentified voices, which Ballard himself defined in an interview as those voices within us that we sometimes hear, positive or negative. He also added that, in his case, these voices helped him understand many things that Ballard would later want to do or say in the future. In particular, in one verse he says that the voice is waiting for him to set it free, which is a bit like what Ballard did with the inspiration for so many songs.

Then, I think that Voices is a fantastic song also for the overwhelming music and above all for the guitar solos and for the electronic effects: it was certainly one of the most innovative and also engaging songs of the 80s, and it certainly showed Russ’s great experience as an author and as a guitarist.

The video is full of action and shows the escape of a hunted man who manages to find a way out with the woman he must save. A kind of action mini-film that has something in common with Yes’ Owner of a Lonely Heart and perhaps can be a source of inspiration for Mr. Mister’s Broken Wings. Ballard always appears with sunglasses, and he always used sunglasses even during TV performances, a bit like the great Mike Oldfield did.

In short, Voices was truly a bolt from the blue. Even if it didn’t make it to the top of the charts, it certainly wreaked havoc in the pop world and allowed the great Russ Ballard to gather at least part of the great success that he had really been deserving for a long time. As a proof of this, Russ Ballard’s music became a frequent choice for serials like Miami Vice or for videogames like GTA.

Russ Ballard on Wikipedia

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