Like a song in the night, vocalist Carl Anderson left us much too early last year. In February 2004, he lost his fight to leukemia. Having appeared on countless albums over the years, Anderson had a unique voice that rose above his surroundings. Born a twin in the mountains of Bedford County Virginia, Carl was raised by God-fearing parents. Carl often said that he got his boundless energy from his twin who died at the young age of eleven. His music career took off after securing the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has graced the albums of such artists as Eric Marienthal, Maynard Ferguson, Weather Report, Richard Elliot, Keiko Matsui, George Howard as well as Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons. One of his better known works was a disc entitled Fantasy Hotel. As a tribute to Carl, we would like to review that disc and pay homage to a great vocalist……
Released in 1992, Fantasy Hotel was the seventh solo release from Anderson. Produced by Russ Freeman and Andre Fischer for GRP Records, the disc had ten new songs including a single entitled “Once In A Lifetime Love.”
The first track “I Will Be There” features Carl's vocals as clear as ever. Accompanied by the background vocals of Leslie Smith, Anjani Thomas and Maxi Anderson, this opener is up-tempo and showcases the talents of drummer Tony Morales and bass, keyboards and electric guitar of Russ Freeman. “If Not For Love” is a David Foster arrangement with a catchy refrain and deep background harmonies as well as the sax solo work of Dave Boruff. “Once In A Lifetime Love” is one of my favorites here. Morales and Freeman join the background ladies once again as Anderson's vocals soar on the refrain offering a sharp contrast to the syncopated verses. Freeman's electric solo blends nicely as they join towards the end to finish this one out.
“Love Will Follow” features an All-Star cast with Nathan East joining on bass, Gerald Albright on sax and Mark Portman on keyboards. Freeman and Morales make sure this Kenny Loggins re-make showcase Carl's vocals. Albright's solo is refreshing as are the ladies background vocals. The fifth song from Fantasy Hotel is the scat-like “Enough Said.” Carl reminds me a lot of Jarreau here and the presentation lends it to being a great live number. Alphonso Johnson's bass keeps this one driving along with some nice background vocals by the ladies once again, and Portman's keyboards. “All I Wanna Do” is arranged by Freeman and he plays everything here… keyboards, guitar, bass and drum programming… with Morales on occasional percussion. This one is catchy, and Anderson seems to be having fun with it. Freeman's keyboard work is remarkable, and sounds very much like background horns.
“The Closest Thing To Heaven” is the first one here arranged by Brad Cole and Andre Fischer. It's eerie to hear it now, and Carl's voice is so clear. This is a nice arrangement, and builds with a lot of emotion. “Lover's Mask” is an intricate intertwining of vocals and instruments. Anderson 's vocals play off of each note until rising to an uplifting chorus. “I'm No Stranger” begins as a funky little number with some nice bass and percussion. Carl's vocals are strong and play nice against the background of Brad Cole's piano. This one builds until the end and is one of the better numbers here.
“Wish I Could Stay (Fantasy Hotel)” is dark while being accompanied by only a piano. It's almost as if he knew his time here would be short. It's reflective as well as wishful. He writes “wish I could stay as time and reality intervenes; now it is past and only pictures remain. But reserved for you in the center of my soul is the garden suite at “Fantasy Hotel.”
Thanks Carl. Godspeed to you as you lift up your voice in the heavens above. As for the Fantasy Hotel, we'll be by often to check in……
Visit Carl's website for more information: www.cstone.net/~dgarlock/carl/