BONDARZ SUPERSTARZ - BREAK A LEG (1980, SELF RELEASED)
Allen 'Al' Bondar - keyboards, guitars, vocals
Norman Smith – bass guitar and vocals
Debbie Bondar - keyboards, vocals
Bryce Dennis – drums and vocals
Jeff Hanaford - guitars, vocals
Forward... by George Thatcher
If you happen to be a fan of prog rock from the early to mid 70's, then you may have stumbled across the name Allen Bondar, and more importantly his music. At an early age, Allen learned the organ and all other forms of instruments. A prolific songwriter, Al found early success in the 70's in the duo Bondar And Wise, featuring musical partner Bob Wise. The duo would tear up the middle states of the USA during the majority of the 70's, but would ultimately be denied a higher level of success because of the quickly changing music environment during that time. Undeterred, Allen Bondar would remain a musical maverick of sorts, and be part of a new shortlived project that would rear its head at the start of the 80's decade. Called Bondarz Superstarz, the trio would create a diverse and at times bombastic LP calling on many musical styles crossing pomp, prog, funk, disco and whatever else was being bandied about at the time.The Songs
It would be easy to cast Bondarz Superstarz to the pomp wind and match them to the likes of Zon and Styx. But that would be too easy and convenient - so we won't. The opening shots fired on the album are provided with 'Entire Cast', a track that is guitar based hard rock. By the time we venture into 'Prelude', the soundscape changes to a fantastic Starcastle like workout, with all the musical ingredients that made Champaign's favorite prog/pomp songs a favorite of mine. Shifting gear into the title track ''Break A Leg', it's still pomp/prog flavored with a huge keyboard fanfare finish that would impress Rick Wakeman I'm sure! The beat is fast and funky on 'Sam', the organ work is so 70's, and the combination with the guitar runs equates easily to stuff recently reviewed by Todd Rundgren and Utopia. 'Winter Rose' is a laid back progressive ballad, with highly concentrated bursts of melody throughout. 'Superman' is a dig at the disco and movie soundtrack music from the era. It's a fun listen, with synths all over the place as too the flute work from Al. 'Joyful Noise' features vocal harmonies again straight out of the Starcastle recipe book. The soaring keys give it an ethereal vibe. This one would appeal to fans of SC and Yes. 'Man's Song' has a harder guitar edge, but the keys are still there too. Again, Todd Rundgren's more melodic side is a reference point here. 'Frogs' is the album's instrumental interlude - containing a backdrop of rain and guitars. 'The Answer' is a beautiful mellow ballad in the mould of Gary Wright, where more soaring keyboard layers are offset by tender piano lines. 'Superstarz Encounterz' is a bombastic montage of synths played out in a 6 and a half minute instrumental. This gives you an idea as to Al's keyboard prowess. Did he nick the riff from Rush's 'Xanadu'? I certainly think so!! lol! What other riffs can you hear?
'Break A Leg' remained an invisible mystery during the LP/vinyl pre Internet era, and only now seems to have reared its head. As you can imagine, this one has never seen the light of day on CD - but that's not to say.. ?? In the here and now, Al is the man behind Dharma Records, which has a few artists on its books, including his son Jake Allen, and a whole raft of solo CD's which he has produced and released over the years. Al is also part of the Dick Wagner Souls Journey Band. Dick as many of you may remember, was an integral part of Alice Cooper's successful run during the late 70's and early 80's. He retired to his home state of Michigan and formed a band - which features the keyboard wizardry of Bondar. It would be nice to see Al release something new along the line of Bondarz Superstarz - or perhaps remaster this baby and put it up for sale via Dharma Records? I wonder if the folks at Inside Out Records would be interested?