Monday, June 9, 2008

Dean Might Thank His 'Lucky Stars'

Born in New Jersey in 1955, Dean Friedman found himself among the throng of singer/songwriters jostling for success on the pop scene during the 1970s. He had an average working class suburban upbringing, and bitten by the music bug found himself working a series of odd jobs whilst seeking his big break in the music biz. He did the classic weddings, bar mitzvahs circuit whilst attending college, whereupon one of his teachers brought him to the attention of music artist agents Allen Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky.

A record deal followed in 1976, resulting in Friedman’s debut album self-titled album in early ‘77. Lifted from the album was the single ‘Ariel’ which was soon added to radio playlists, and by mid year ‘Ariel’ peaking at #26 on the U.S. charts, eventually spending 22 weeks on the American charts. Without detracting from the songs quality, it was a typical radio friendly love ballad, which were prevalent at the time, but the lyrics were a cut above, clever and poignant - about a nice vegetarian Jewish hippie. ‘Ariel’ didn’t translate to other markets so well, stalling at #91 in Australia.

Friedman’s second album ‘Well, Well Said The Rocking Chair’ was released late in ‘78 but unfortunately didn’t repeat the success of his debut effort in the American market. However, Friedman did manage a major breakthrough on both the U.K. and Australian charts with the single ‘Lucky Stars’. The song was a really clever ballad duet with session singer/songwriter Denise Marsa, performed in an almost conversational tone, very evocative for the listener. (Denise Marsa continued writing and performing, releasing a solo album ‘Self’ in 1998, and she is now involved in public relations with the KeyMedia Group)

‘Lucky Stars’ was a huge hit on the Australian charts, peaking at #6 in early 1979, following on from its success in the U.K. late in ‘78, reaching #3. The album ‘Well Well, Said The Rocking Chair’ performed well too on the back of ‘Lucky Star’s success (OZ#70, UK#21). Friedman enjoyed two more minor hits on the U.K. charts during 1978 with ‘Woman Of Mine’ (#52) and ‘Lydia’ (#31). Friedman released another single titled ‘McDonald’s Girl’ in 1979 but it was banned by the BBC for some reason (did the BBC actually need a reason for banning a song in those days - maybe the corporate McDonalds angle). The song was later covered by a band called The Blenders and went to #1 in Norway in 1998, and was also covered by Barenaked Ladies (1992).

Friedman released another collection of his own songs in 1982 with the album ‘Rumpled Romeo’, again featuring his accomplished story-telling lyrics wrapped in palatable soft-rock, but the era of the singer-songwriter had taken a more acerbic edge by that time, and Friedman‘s run at chart success was well and truly over. For a time Friedman’s creative energies were channelled into scoring music for video games (he is now President and Creative Director of InVideo Games) and wrote a number of instructional books relating to music. A dedicated career artist, Friedman has continued to write and record his own work in his home studio, with his most recent album ‘Squirrels In The Attic’ released in 2006. It’s a pity this gifted musician didn’t experience a more prolonged tenure in the mainstream spotlight.

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