Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!
I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!
You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.
This should be an interesting album. I never heard of it, and I was not familiar with Roger Powell. However, Air Pocket was voted the #1 album of 1980 by a reader poll in Keyboard Magazine. The keyboard played a prominent role in 80s music. So we will see if this is a sign of things to come.
According to Wikipedia, Roger Powell played keyboards and synthesizers with the rock band Utopia, led by Todd Rundgren and featuring players Kasim Sulton and Willie Wilcox, among others, from 1974 until its disbanding in 1985, playing, writing, and singing on ten of the band’s eleven albums. For Utopia’s live shows, Powell created the Powell Probe; the first remote, hand-held polyphonic synthesizer controller, which featured a custom-made shell used to access a complex stack of sequencers and other peripherals offstage, a device also used in a modified form by Jan Hammer.
So, not only was Powell a musician, but he was an innovator. Air Pocket was Powell’s second solo album. His previous album was Cosmic Furnace in 1973.
Now let’s get into Air Pocket.
It was released on January 30, 1980 on Bearsville Records and produced by Roger Powell himself.
The personnel is:
- John Holbrook – rhythm guitar, engineer
- Roger Powell – vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, producer
- Cleve Pozar – drums
- Todd Rundgren – guitar
- Mark Styles – keyboards
Now let’s check out this album! Keep in mind that I’m not a musician or a music critic. And this seems like a musician’s album.
1. “Lunar Plexus”
The album starts off with an instrumental tune. It starts off slow and builds up a bit. Around the midway point it sounds like something that would play over the closing credits of a B sci-fi movie.
Oooh, I like this one! It starts off with a definite 1980 feel. It has that disco/funk vibe, and at the same time it’s new-wavy. And there are vocals in this. I would have liked this without the vocals, but it was a pleasant surprise.
3. “Air Pocket”
The title track is an instrumental. It’s OK. Not much to say about it.
I’m starting to see a pattern here. This song has lyrics. I’m liking this one a lot. Powell’s vocals remind me of Gregg Rolie from Journey. The guitars, drums, and of course keyboards are great in this. This has kind of a prog rock feel to it.
5. “Emergency Splashdown”
Wow, pattern broken here. Another song with lyrics. This one rocks, and sounds different from everything else so far.
6. “Morning Chorus”
This does sound like a morning song as everything is waking up and coming to life. I appreciate it. This is only 2 minutes long, which is perfect.
From reading the song title, I thought this was going to be a rocker. But, it’s a cute little instrumental. It’s pleasant enough.
This is another decent instrumental. It picks up the pace as it goes along.
9. “Sands of Arrakis”
I got bored with this song, and it’s the longest one on the album.
We close out with an instrumental. This might be the best instrumental on the album, so it’s a good way to close out.
Hidden Gems: May favorites were all the songs with lyrics:”Landmark”, “Windows”, and “Emergency Splashdown”
Here is my ratings scale
5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back
For me, I’m going to have to give this a 2. This is nothing I would buy or go out of my way to listen. I do appreciate Powell’s talent though. Musicians, especially keyboardists, would most likely give this a much higher rating.
What are your thoughts on the album? Do you think Roger Powell’s keyboard playing was impressive, especially for that time?
I’d love to hear from you!