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Ez Jon Erikson
Summers Of My Life

A review by Richard Radcliffe

This collection of EZ songs is quite different to his previous one, "EZTRAVAGANZA." The major difference is the recording and mixing, which were done in a different studio and by a different producer, this time the very talented Paul Adshead at Stable Music, Saddleworth. With the switch from analogue to digital, the sound quality has also improved. The general, overall quality is superior, the EZ vocals being clearer, the respective instrumental solos more precise. It’s very well produced and moves EZ to the next level. The genre of songs is varied again. He mixes Springsteen type ballads with Electro Pop, solemn moods intertwine with ecstasy (or should that be "EZtasy"??!!). The presentation improved a hundredfold from the original "Eztravaganza" cassette release. CD special, complete with pullout lyric book, with Ez looking well cool (and a great deal older than on "Eztravaganza"!). Onto the songs themselves:-

 

Fun In The Sun – The collection gets off to a rip-snorting start with this infectious, holiday hit. We are on holiday and we are having a great time! Making effective use of saxophone and guitars, this immediately shows the clear sound that distinguishes this collection from the previous. It is all more professional and clearer in tone. There’s no unnecessary background noise, and the EZ vocals stand out. He fills the song with all the best ingredients of holidays, his lyrics are humorous, finding time for summer movie references. Elvis and Cliff get a mention, and the song actually begins with a play on the opening of Buddy Holly's "Raining In My Heart". There is a definite 50's rock 'n' roll influence here, endorsing the innocence of the song. We are in the summer groove! 8/10

 

The One In Your Life – I have heard this song through all of its’ various versions. I would be surprised if any of EZ's other songs have such a chequered history. Finally though he gets the version he wants. I have to confess though, I never really liked the main tune. It just didn’t have the spark of the others. I still don’t like the song very much, but I have to admit this is, by far, the best arrangement of this song. There is a nice clean sound to it – and it moves along at a brisk pace. EZ is in control of it throughout, and the arrangement backs him up nicely. There is a fab sax solo in the middle too, further enhancing the end product. The song's inclusion as the second on the album is to show the subject of "Fun" now falling in love, and also because this is, after all, a commercial song. It’ll never be one of my favourites, but it ain’t as bad as it used to be! Pure pop! 6/10

 

Half The World – This song of unrequited love is a nice little tender addition to the collection, and follows on nicely from the previous song. Using a simple guitar accompaniment, the EZ vocals are allowed centre stage. It’s a lovely tune, the melody and lyrics conveying the message of one-side love. Contrasting with the last song though, I feel that EZ struggles with the pitch a little. A lower key may have been more suited, I think. Maybe more accompaniment would help too. Ultimately it’s a very sad song, preparing us for the thoughtfulness that is a feature of this collection. Make no mistake though, this is a lovely song. 7/10

 

Masters Of Our Destiny – This is an example of the different styles EZ adopts in this collection. Here he gives us a Folk Rock song, yet captures an early 80's Electro-Pop/New Romantic feel, with a definite Bowie influence. It has an edge to it too, and a great deal of attitude. The lyrics discuss the nuances of life, how unfair things can be at times. EZ explores the human condition in a candid way, bringing into focus the chaos that is around us. “ Who are the masters of our destiny, are we the masters of our destiny, or does our destiny lie in other hands?”. His wry observations will bring a nod of the head from many of us. The air of one of supreme pessimism. But despite this it succeeds in being quite lively. The notable keyboards and electrical guitar providing a strange, yet melodic accompaniment. EZ uses the song to bring a harsher tone to his voice. The song shows his flexibility, and I for one think it is a bold move. It’s an experiment too which is successful. 9/10

 

Angry Skies - The last few songs have been rather pessimistic. But this one is just downright depressing. There is just a harmonica, simple guitar, keyboards and vocals. It starts out rather well with EZ reminiscing about his childhood. An idealistic yet accurate picture is built up. But then it goes into a careful evaluation of all that is wrong with the world. As one negative emotion and event follows another, it does not make entertaining reading or listening, and the slow beat really emphasizes this. We have had half the world not being loved, little control over our own destiny, and now these days full of angry skies! Lighten up EZ!!!! Songs have been written about sad things though since the beginning of time, maybe it just isn’t my preferred choice. It’s not a bad song – there’s some lovely melodies within it. It’s also pretty well sung by EZ too. But it’s just too depressing for my tastes. 5/10

 

Mama’s Goin’ To The Ball Tonight – Hurray! Ez has lightened up! And what a terrific song! It’s fast moving Rock 'n' Roll. There is nothing terribly original about it, but it’s a breath of fresh air after the seriousness of the last 3 numbers. EZ is joined by “big bruv” Sam – a fine singer in his own right. The combination works extremely well, and this has become a real classic of Sam and Ez's gigs together. Especially good is the question and answer section towards the end – “Where’s Mama?” sings EZ. “At the Ball” Sam replies – brilliantly built up to an explosive climax. It never lets up for a second, and I defy you not to tap your foot to its' beat. Now we’re back on holiday again, with this real showstopper. 9/10

 

No More A Fool – Hot on the heels of "Mama" comes this fast moving track. The style is quite different though. We are back in 80's land here, with a touch of a "Wham!" feel to it. The continuous drumbeat, the singing, electrical guitars, lively keyboards; this is one that really goes for the jugular, and makes you move your body! There’s a tremendous amount of energy being expelled and the EZ vocals are really impressive. This catchy tune rams home it’s beat, and never lets up at all. It’s the best arrangement on the collection too, no one instrument outdoes the other – all combine to produce the excellent whole. Brilliant. 9/10

 

Otiose – I reviewed this on "Eztravaganza", but here’s a new, acoustic version. It really fulfils the same purpose as it did before. Things are calmed down, we’re on holiday after all. The new version gives EZ a chance to shine on the vocals, which he does very well. Only a strumming guitar accompanies him as he chills out. I would have preferred to hear a new song – but the whole ethos of "Otiose" is very fitting to this collection. It’s found it’s natural home. 7/10

 

Unforeseen Circumstances – We are back in Springsteen land here, but not as downbeat as "Angry Skies." A harmonica greets us, and the arrangement builds up from there. A repetitive melody allows the lyrics to be the highlight. In true Springsteen style it reads like a story. It is very pleasant sounding too, easy on the ear, and as an original Springsteen-inspired track it’s excellent. The story of a guy who's marriage has failed, and is parted from his children, back at the house where he grew up, trying to make a new start. The EZ Vocals are quite suited to this kind of ballad. There is also a very effective use of double tracking. We are in the poignant lyrics here again, but the tune is sufficiently upbeat to not bring things down. I like this one. 7/10

 

Summers Of My Life – The title song of the collection is the highlight. The waves crashing on the shore reinforce the holiday theme, but events have moved on in the subject's life from the innocence of "Fun In The Sun." He is now looking back on lost love in a holiday town where he has spent many a summer, observing the changes that have taken place. There is an acoustic guitar nicely, consistently strumming in the accompaniment, along with the keyboards, merging all of it together with EZ vocals doubling up to provide a rich harmony. There’s a lovely acoustic guitar solo in there too, which really pushes this into the Classic range. Memories dominate the whole CD, never more so than here. But there is a sense of optimism creeping in now, even though EZ still feels the need to say how bad things are at times. This superb song finishes the Collection off nicely, it is wonderfully put together by all concerned. 9/10

 

This collection manages to combine fun with thoughtfulness, mundane with magic. "Eztravaganza" managed to achieve the same. But "Summers" does it better, because it all sounds better. The mixing and arrangements are miles ahead – most of the balance is done to perfection. EZ mixes up the songs nicely (apart from the 3 pessimistic ones from 3-5). There’s traditional ballads, New Jersey blues, Rock 'n' Roll standards, 80's Harmonics. There’s crowd pleasers, there’s introspective numbers. "Holiday" is the overall theme. "Summers" and "Fun" nicely bookend the collection, but some of the songs are just too downbeat for the vacation motif. The EZ vocals have improved. A variety of styles combine. This is another very good collection from EZ, who has now turned himself into a very talented singer/songwriter.

 

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