Bourgeois Tagg was born out of the band Uncle Rainbow. Uncle Rainbow was a popular Dallas club band who moved to the Bay Area and became a popular Northern California club band, never quite getting over the hump to getting a record deal. Larry Tagg and I left the group in 1982 to pursue our own brand of original music. We added drummer Michael Urbano, guitarist Lyle Workman, and keyboardist Scott Moon soon after. After a successful club run of our own, Bourgeois Tagg was signed to Island Records early in 1985, and came under the management wing of the legendary rock impresario Bill Graham.
Here is what reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine said about Bourgeois Tagg’s eponymous debut album: If you want to know what the ’80s really sounded like, take a listen to Bourgeois Tagg’s eponymous debut album from 1986. This is where all the disparate trends of the early ’80s came together to create the sound of mid- to late-’80s mainstream rock: there’s the remnants of pre-MTV arena rock, the synths of new wave, the post-Rundgren blend of power pop and stadium anthems, and the immaculate studiocraft of mainstream pop, where it was possible to hear every individual drum in Phil Collins’ 11-piece kit. There are lots of synths, lots of basslines played on synths, lots of clean, post-funk rhythm guitars, breathy vocals, and big hair on nearly every member. It’s the kind of record that sounds like nothing was actually was made by a human, outside of (perhaps) the lead vocal.
Overall, I think that’s a pretty fair assessment, although what’s funny is, we were a really good live band who lost quite a bit of that “liveness” in the studio in our attempt to make the most modern studio record we could. And part of that process was to line everything up and make it land perfectly in time. This was the very beginning of quantization and as hard as it is to justify now, it was quite a cutting edge thing at that moment in time. When I listen to the record now, I have to laugh at how rigid it is, when we weren’t really like that at all. The proof is in our next record, Yoyo, which was recorded with Todd Rundgren. But this record was very much a product of its time, and was well received by critics and in the industry, and got us tours with the band Heart and and English singer Robert Palmer.
Oh, and one more thing: My sister Coral made the painting that became the album cover. And there is a funny story about that. Tower Records in San Francisco used to put huge masonry squares on top of their building of new releases, and our cover was one of them. When the run was over, they asked if someone wanted it, or they were going to probably just go over it with another cover. The thing weighed about 600 pounds. In a major surprise, my mother decided she wanted the thing to put in the family home in Dallas, given that it was my album and my sister’s art. So she paid to have it shipped to Dallas, and there it stayed for 25 years until my father finally had to sell the house and move into an assisted living facility. Below is a picture of it going to its new home.
You can listen to the album here. (Please share the link with your friends.)