John Crawford is a platinum-selling musician who saw a rise to fame as bassist with the Los Angeles-based synth pop group Berlin, which he founded with Terri Nunn in 1978. The pinnacle of their mainstream commercial success in the mid-80s came with the Giorgio Moroder-penned single “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 film Top Gun, which was Berlin’s biggest international hit. After a multi-year hiatus from song writing, he was inspired to start again after VH1 aired “Bands Reunited: Berlin” in 2006. With his passion for song writing rekindled, Crawford wrote a collection of new songs which form the album, entitled After Berlin, released on Hembot Records in 2015.
The truth is there is no easy way to describe John Crawford. There were hundreds of things written about him and Berlin in the past, and there will be hundreds more now. There are comparisons to every genre and desperate attempts to lump After Berlin into some category when it’s just not possible. Pop? Rock? Alternative, or Indie? And that’s the beauty of this album. It defies strict categorization, because it is all of those things.
Crawford slips into shimmering rock n’ roll with “Sunshine Girl,” which cascades down into a beautiful tune – “I Feel Like Dancing,” wrapped in sumptuously jangling guitars. The standout songs that follow, continue this trend and feel: the incessantly taut “I Am,” the transcendent “Loneliness,” the sparkling “Escape,” and the catchy indie-pop of “Love Is Easy,” which is my favorite track.
John Crawford obviously took his time crafting this album, and making the kind of intelligent rock, people would expect from him. But the sound is entirely different to that of Berlin – this is a beautiful thunderstorm of upbeat instrumentation, with the sound of a spiritual sonic experience, and just a touch of retro nostalgia.
The first time you listen to the songs on After Berlin, you hear the powerful music arrangements, which wrap itself around you. But eventually you start to realize that lyrically the album is amazing as well. There seems to be something very cerebral about listening to these songs.
After Berlin is a brave and ambitious recording that seeks to do something different and doesn’t find John Crawford resting on the laurels of his past experiences. The sound is layered and there’s so much going on, you want to pick each piece apart and hear all the different instruments and the production touches that are generously sprinkled throughout all eleven songs. It paints a portrait of an artist confident and content to have moved to the next step…After Berlin.
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