Lazarus – A Fool’s Paradise (1973)

FrontCover1Lazarus were a 1970s American soft rock band, consisting of principal members Billie Hughes, Gary Dye, and Carl Keesee. Hughes was the leader of the band, serving as lead singer and songwriter, and playing guitar and violin. The band are considered early artists in the Contemporary Christian movement.

The band members of Lazarus met in 1968 in Abilene, Texas, while Hughes and Keesee were attending Abilene Christian College. Hughes, Keesee and Gary Dye formed a band, initially named Shiloh. At a Peter, Paul & Mary concert March 20, 1968, at the ACC Moody Coliseum Auditorium, they were able to meet Peter Yarrow backstage and play him their demo tape.

In association with Yarrow and producer Phil Ramone, Lazarus moved to Peter Yarrow’s cabin in Woodstock, N.Y., signing with the newly formed Bearsville Records (Warner Bros.) label, under the direction of Albert Grossman.

Lazarus released two albums, the self-titled Lazarus, and A Fool’s Paradise on Bearsville Records, both produced by Peter Yarrow and Phil Ramone. The band won a Clio Award for Best Commercial of the Year for the Life Savers campaign.

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The self-titled debut album Lazarus was the second album released on the Bearsville label. On the album’s release, RPM wrote about the band: “A find of PP&M’s Peter Yarrow, Lazarus is a highly talented folkish trio very much in the strain of Crosby, Stills et al. Group has a quality of presence, unsurpassed.

April 1972, a launch celebration in London with Albert Grossman in attendance, was hosted by Kinney (WEA), set to distribute the Bearsville label in the UK, with initial album releases by Todd Rundgren, Lazarus and Foghat.

Released in 1971, this first album featured the single “Warmth of Your Eyes,” which became a moderate hit the following year. Their second and final album, A Fool’s Paradise, followed in 1973, from which “Ladyfriends I (Sing a Song to Your Lady)” was tagged as a single. Both albums were produced by Yarrow and Phil Ramone.

Single

Lazarus played The Troubadour, Los Angeles, toured with Peter Yarrow, and over the next four years, performed extensively throughout the United States and Canada. In a review of The Troubadour, show, Eliot Tiegel wrote: “This is a totally enjoyable twin bill which is touring the country…Lazarus showed off a fine harmonic ability with its three members holding their voices in line and also performing adequately on piano/organ, guitar/violin and bass.”

Lazarus was represented by the booking agency East-West Talent, Inc. who also represented The Band, Paul Butterfield, Foghat, Hello People, and Todd Rundgren.[12] They opened for Rundgren at his USD concert in Vermillion, South Dakota , a city that Rundgren name-drops on his Back to the Bars live album.

Bill Hughes

In 1976, the band won the Clio Award for Life Savers Best Commercial of the Year. The “Life Savers” TV commercial with the song written and performed by the band Lazarus ran nine years nationwide. The commercial starred Peter Billingsley and Suzanne Somers in different versions of the commercial, respectively.

Following Lazarus’ disbandment, Hughes went on to pursue a solo career and later formed a successful songwriting partnership with Roxanne Seeman.

Carl Keesee went to Canada to play a gig and remained there.

“Ladyfriends” from A Fool’s Paradise was included in the Bearsville Anthology released in 2006.

Lee Shively / David Bradstreet (friend of Lazarus) / Carl Keesee / Bill Hughes (L to R):Lazarus02

A Fool’s Paradise is the second studio album by the American band Lazarus. It was released in January 1973 by Bearsville Records, distributed by Warner Bros. Records. All of the songs were written by Bill Hughes with the exception of “Oklahoma Boy” written by Carl Keesee. The album was produced by Peter Yarrow and Phil Ramone. It received significant national airplay on leading progressive FM stations.

“Ladyfriends I (Sing a Song to Your Lady)” was issued as the first single. It is included, with “Baby, Baby”, in the Bearsville Bear Pack No 1 compilation of tracks considered collectors’ items released as a Vinyl LP by WEA, originating in the UK in 1977. The album featured Bobby Charles, Hungry Chuck, Paul Butterfield, Jesse Winchester and Lazarus.

The album was released by Pony Canyon in Japan on September 6, 1995. It was reissued by Rhino Records on CD and digitally. (wikipedia)

They were, in fact, Christian rockers, which was something relatively new in those days — the back-to-Jesus movement, as an offshoot of the counterculture, had just gotten rolling a couple of years earlier. The members were Bill (Billie) Hughes on guitar, violin, and backing vocals; Carl Keesee on bass and vocals; and Gary Dye on keyboards and vocals. Their sound was basically acoustic rock with minimal amplification and lots of harmony vocals — think of Crosby, Stills & Nash or a low-wattage answer to the Doobie Brothers from the time of their second or third album.  (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Gary Dye (keyboards, vocals)
Bill Hughes (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals)
Carl Keesee (bass, vocals)
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Nick Jameson (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Ladyfriends II 2.35
02. Ladyfriends I (Sing a Song to Your Lady) 3.24
03. “When Will the Home of Me Begin?” 3:20
04. “A Fool’s Paradise” 3:19
05. “Baby, Baby” 2:26
06. “Thoughts of You” 2:40
07. “Take Me High” 2:48
08. “Oklahoma Boy”  3:48
09. “This Is a Song” 3:25
10. “Poets and Lovers” 4:29

All songs written by Bill Hughes
except 08., written by Carl Keesee

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