I can say that my first solo record, Brent Bourgeois, inaugurated Virgin Record’s Charisma label, and my second, A Matter of Feel, finished it off. Even after my first record was completed, they were still hastily assembling sales and radio promotions teams in the various regions around the country; as my second was being wrapped up, they were letting those people go, or re-assigning them back to Virgin. So it goes. The record industry even at its peak was fickle and capricious. A genius one day can’t get out of his own way the next. I had one of those David Spade-like moments after this record had been orphaned back to Virgin Records. No one at Virgin proper had anything to do with this record or me; everyone was up to their ears with their own artists, and having foster projects like this dumped in their laps never went over well. I came to the front desk at Virgin in LA for my first meeting with whoever was taking over the record and the receptionist actually said to me, “And you’re with? Can you spell that?” When I asked for a key to use the restroom in the hall, my first CD was the key-weight.
Honestly, I feel like A Matter of Feel is half a good record. I told the story of how “Dare To Fall In Love” was originally written to be cut by someone else as part of my publishing obligation, but then discovered by my record company and released as the first single. Well, in a classic case of overthink, I decided if that was what the record company was going to promote, then that was what I would give them. I handed in four or five songs that I had set aside for others to cover, songs I wouldn’t have put on my own record. The rest of the record was kind of an extension of the first, revealing the schizophrenic nature of the album.
In the plus column, I would put the title song, “A Matter of Feel,” “Staggered,” “One Foot in the Water,” “Girl Don’t Let Me Down,” (good song, wrong arrangement-the same could be said for the first song, “Funky Little Nothing”) “Alcohol,” (another co-write between Lyle Workman and I–one of my favorites) and “Silent Partner.” Plus, even though the lyrical content is shallow, I really like the co-write and duet with Robert Palmer, “I’m Down With You.” The album was co-produced and mixed by Glenn Rosenstein with a heavy dose of Tommy Sims’ programming.
Robert Palmer was a true gentleman, and a voracious audiophile and music lover. He was as elegant as he looked. Robert was a great early ambassador of world music and could get lost in explaining the intricacies of a Joao Gilberto melody or a King Sunny Adé rhythm. He was good friend, and he died much too soon. Also leaving the earth too young were two other singers on the record, Vince Ebo and Richard Oates. Richard and I had been in bands together since I was sixteen and was my best friend until he passed away in 2010.
I think A Matter of Feel is a wise cautionary tale for artists to follow their hearts, not their heads. On the songs listed above, I was following my heart…
One other piece of trivia: People thought that the girl on the cover was my daughter. She wasn’t. Only my son Adrian would have been old enough for this picture. We did the photo shoot in New York City, and covered all of the usual gritty haunts. After the very serious cover on the first album, I really wanted something lighter. We happened to be shooting right outside the apartment of some friends of my sister’s, who had a young daughter. At the very last moment, I asked if we could take a few shots with her. That became the cover.
As I said, just as this record was being finished, Charisma Records folded (back into Virgin.) The record went nowhere, and I was let go. My recording career was in serious jeopardy. I wrote songs for my publisher for a year or so, and then Charlie Peacock and Nashville came calling…