By DONNA BALANCIA
Dennis Quaid is definitely Out Of The Box, but he has put out a great debut album.
Dennis Quaid and The Sharks release their first full-length record, Out Of The Box, and the LP is appropriately named, summing up the stories of his unorthodox life.
Quaid has a great sense of humor and it comes through loud and clear on the new record, but there is a satisfyingly deep quality to the music. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of America’s best-loved actors could be so smart, after all, Quaid has played everything from a racer to an astronaut and everything else. He’s done a lot of living and all his moves have been in the press to prove it. But songwriting and performing have always been there.
“I like music as long as it’s good,” Quaid told CaliforniaRocker.com prior to Friday’s record release. “Our music is ‘Junkyard Rock N Roll’ with country. Oh, and we’re the only band that gives a money-back guarantee.”
He may not need to worry about that.
First Album But Many Movie Roles
Quaid captured hearts in films like Breaking Away (1979), The Big Easy (1983), and The Right Stuff (1987), and he’s won awards for his dramatic work. So, one of the perks of being a movie star is you have some high-falootin’ friends. For his music, he’s got some good pals in Bonnie Raitt and T Bone Burnett. Burnett lent a hand in creating Out Of The Box.
But while Quaid has been a beloved leading man in the movies and on TV, all things must pass as they say. Out Of The Box comes at a time when Quaid said he’s ready to devote more time to music, his first love.
“I’ve been writing songs since I was 12,” he said. “We just finished a 40-date tour and we’re planning on touring more. I can do this now because I’m not getting the lead leads any more.”
The 13 songs on Out Of The Box were selected from among 25 the group recorded. It’s a strong collection of mostly Americana-type rocker songs with a few pace-changers thrown in.
“We’re working on our next album already,” Quaid said. Mainly because of a backlog at pressing plants, Out Of The Box will be available on vinyl in six months, he said.
Quaid Has Legs as a Musician
This is not play acting for Quaid, even though he did play Jerry Lee Lewis in Great Balls of Fire (1989).
There are a lot of actors who want to be musicians out there. And no question it’s a smart model to take an actor with a following and convert those fans into record-buyers. There’s a solid fan base that may be the only reliable consumer demographic that is actually spending money on music.
But this is not one of those actor-turned-musician outfits. There are real musicians and real lyrics here with solid sounds, and Quaid and the Sharks blend an upbeat style with fun and important messaging. Sure there’s a “FireFall”-ish feeling to the music, but that was a pretty good band in its day.
With the exception of a few tracks, all the songs are original, written by Quaid. He says it’s his collaboration with James and the bandmates that drives the band’s appeal.
“Jamie and I met and we decided to form a band,” Quaid said. “And 18 years later we’re still together.”
It’s definitely longer than most of Quaid’s other marriages. Quaid tells a lot of personal stories on the album. He says he’s following the examples set by the best in the business like Johnny Cash in storyteller style but there’s something more.
“These songs are basically stories about me in a fictionalized version,” Quaid admitted.
The Personal Perks of Performing
Performing music live also gives Quaid another perk.
“Being on stage in front of an audience takes the place of theater,” Quaid said. “We guarantee a good time. We’re the oldest guys to make it in music, but we’re the new kids.”
Dennis Quaid and The Sharks will perform “You’re So Fine,” on Good Morning America on release day.
Music Selection on Out Of The Box
Quaid clearly has a lot to say on this record. And he’s in good company. His bandmates are James, Tom Mancillas, Ken Stange, and Tom Walsh and each play an important role, he said.
“Good Man, Bad Boy” is one of the songs that captures the essence of Quaid. It’s clearly inspired by the music he played when he was with Bonnie Raitt’s band, with a heavy blues take. “Peaches” is a raucous storytelling of his crazy adventures with a wild gal in his “Dallas Palace,” bringing to mind a “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” Jim Croce-inspired story. “I’m In Love” captures the signs of being reluctantly head over heels with a rock beat. “You’re So Fine” changes the pace with a dusty road, ambling ode to love and “What You Got To Say For Yourself” is a pondering breakup song. The title track, “Out Of The Box” has a psychedelic-meets-Winters Brothers feel to it, blending country rock with ’70s throwback.
The covers are strong. He puts enough of his personality in “Gloria” by Van Morrison, “LA Woman” and “Riders On The Storm” by The Doors and “Slow Down” by Larry Williams.
But perhaps the most important song on the album is “After The Fall,” in which Quaid summarizes the culture the U.S. has adopted.
And like the album’s closing song says, we can’t look back and must move ahead. And if this music doesn’t inspire you to do that then nothing will.
The album is produced by Dennis Quaid and Jamie James. Cut at the legendary Village Studios in Los Angeles, original songs by Dennis Quaid, covers by The Doors, Van Morrison, and Larry Williams. Photo: Greg Allen
CaliforniaRocker.com rating – ???? – Four guitars out of five
Out Of The Box – Tracklist:
1. I’m In Love
2. You’re So Fine
3. Peaches No. 9
4. Out Of The Box
5. On My Way To Heaven
6. L.A. Woman
7. Riders On The Storm
8. Good Man, Bad Boy
9. What You Got To Say For Yourself
10. Walk With The Angels
1 1 . Slow Down
13. After The Fall
Photo: Greg Allen