Saturday, May 14, 2011

Novo Combo: Too Long Gone

Here’s a song that brings back memories of when I was the music director at WCIR-FM in Beckley, WV. Novo Combo had released their second album “The Animation Generation” in 1982 and the single “Too Long Gone.”

While the song was not being heavily promoted across the US, the independent promoters were anxious to get this Polydor release some airplay in the smaller markets. What they really wanted were for the P3 (Parallel 3 or smaller market) stations to add the record and to generate some interest in this tune so they could get some major market airplay.

This song had nearly everything – a great guitar lick – a memorable lyrical hook; however, the record company didn’t have it at the top of their promotional priorities – therefore, whoever the Polygram people were promoting at the time be it John Cougar Mellencamp, the Moody Blues, Def Leppard, or another one of their better known acts, Novo Combo got left behind in a stack of wax.

I don’t have my charts from those years – at least I don’t think I do – so I cannot remember if we added the record or played it unreported in nighttime rotation. Listening to “Too Long Gone” nearly thirty years later, I can’t imagine not adding the record. The song still sounds great after all of these years. While Novo Combo never made it to the big time in Contemporary Hit Radio, they did get a fair amount of airplay on the Album Rock stations.

The lead singer on this cut was Pete Hewlett from Pittsburgh. One of his pre-Novo Combo records was by the Euclid Beach Band and their song about America’s third coast – Lake Erie. “No Surf in Cleveland” was produced by Eric Carmen and I’ll get around to featuring this song as summer gets closer. In addition, Novo Combo's drummer was Mike Shrieve who, as member of Santana, had previously drummed on eight of their albums.

As an addendum, I will have to insert the comments of my longtime friend John Sellards who had never heard this song before. He compared this cut as to sounding like "the Police with an overweight Jon Anderson singing lead." Well, that's pretty descriptive.

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