Vinyl Archeology

While perusing the stock of a record fair last year, my buddy was analyzing how I shopped. He assumed I bought records strictly because of the music. When I pulled out a copy of Stryper’s “To Hell with the Devil” with its original cover artwork, he learned that my interest was deeper than just what was in the grooves. There are many points to a record that a CD or, God forbid, a digital download can provide.

This came into view once again this week. After hearing a particularly enjoyable song on XM’s “Hair Nation” station, I did some Google research which, as it normally happens, led to a few more Google searches.

The song was “Hot Cherie” by the American band Hardline. This band released their debut album, “Double Eclipse,” in early 1992 at a time when “hair metal” and hard rock was falling out of favor. Two songs from the album broke into rock radio. The first was an original track titled “Takin’ Me Down,” co-written by Johnny and Joey Gioeli along with Journey (and Hardline) guitarist Neal Schon. “Hot Cherie” was the second release and made a better run up the rock radio airplay charts.

Reading through the history of “Double Eclipse,” a bunch of well-known names popped up. In addition to Schon’s appearance and writing credits, his Journey cohort Jonathan Cain co-wrote two tracks. Rock royalty Eddie Money co-wrote one track. And then there’s band member Deen Castronovo.

Castronovo’s previous experience included his role as drummer in the “supergroup” Bad English. After Journey broke up in the mid-1980s, keyboardist Cain and guitarist Schon met up with Cain’s former Babys bandmates singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Philips to form the new band. Castronovo was recruited to fill out the rhythm section. Bad English released two albums and three top 40 singles (including the #1 hit “When I See You Smile”). When Journey reformed, Castronovo joined Cain and Schon in the band’s second era.

But getting back to my original search, I wanted to know more about “Hot Cherie,” which Wikipedia stated was “a cover of a top 40 hit by Danny Spanos.”

Danny Spanos had some minor successes back in the early days of MTV and my personal record collection includes his less popular “Here Comes Trouble.” As Wikipedia is wont to do, the song being a “Danny Spanos” hit doesn’t fully explain the ancestry of the track.

A year before Spanos released the EP “Passion in the Dark,” the Canadian band Streetheart wrote the song, but it wasn’t released until their 1984 compilation “Buried Treasures,” after they disbanded. This led me to find some Streetheart material.

My local record store had a copy of the band’s sophomore release, 1979’s “Under Heaven Over Hell.” The sleeve lists the band members as Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve on bass, Kenny Shields on vocals, Daryl Gutheil on keyboards, Matthew Frenette on drums, and John Hannah on guitars. This lineup changed slightly from the first album where Paul Dean was the band’s guitarist and co-writer on three of the 2nd album’s tracks.

Some of these names were familiar and required another web search.

Dean left Streetheart after the first album and drummer Frenette split after the second when they formed Loverboy with singer Mike Reno and bassist Jim Clench. After replacing Clench with Scott Smith, Loverboy went on to record eight studio albums, four of which went multi-platinum in the United States.

The name “Spider” Sinnaeve also sounded familiar. After Streetheart broke up in 1983, Ken played on Helix’s 1984 “Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge” before joining Tom Cochrane’s band Red Rider for their RCA Records debut. Later, Sinnaeve would join a touring version of The Guess Who in 1999 and replace Loverboy’s late bassist Scott Smith in 2001, filling out 60% of the roles in Loverboy with 60% of Streetheart .

Record collecting is an experience on many levels. Whether you’re enjoying Neal Schon’s wailing guitar on “Hot Cherie” or admiring Robert Sweet’s fantasy artwork on “To Hell with the Devil” or following the family tree of Canadian rock bands, there’s just so much more on offer from a 12-inch vinyl canvas. Hours of entertainment can be had in addition to the 40 minutes of music found on a long-playing record. So pick up a good liner note and give it a read!


Michael Mercer is a veteran reviewer of music and audio components. He got his start working for The Absolute Sound as a teenager and then made his way over to Atlantic Records, working with the legendary producer Arif Mardin. Considered one of the leading "crusaders for personal audio", Mercer can be found writing for many audio publications on the Internet.

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