Dave Jenkins - guitar, vocals; Steve Price - drums; Bud Cockrell - bass; Cory Lerios - keyboards
Formed in 1973 by former members of Stoneground and It's a Beautiful Day, Pablo Cruise developed a strong following in Bay Area clubs before landing a record deal with Herb Alpert's A&M Records label. The group's initial recordings were inconsistent yet promising, but their 1977 album, A Place in the Sun, was a breakthrough, combining strong melodies, memorable hooks, versatile musicianship and songwriting contributions from all of the band members. Though typically regarded as a soft rock band, Pablo Cruise blended elements of pop, jazz, surf music, reggae, and even country music into the mix: so smoothly, in fact, that a lot of critics didn't even notice. Radio listeners were another story and the album's first single, "What'cha Gonna Do?" became a Top 10 hit. This led to greater recognition and an opportunity to open for The Doobie Brothers during their peak of popularity, which helped gain the band legions of new fans.
Captured by the King Biscuit Flower Hour in Virginia Beach, when Pablo Cruise opened for The Doobies, this performance captures the group at that pivotal moment in their career in 1977, when their A Place In The Sun material was fresh and new and the future never looked brighter.
Not surprisingly, this performance emphasizes material from that album, beginning with the inviting "Can't You Hear The Music," written by keyboard player Cory Lerois and drummer Steve Price. Two songwriting collaborations between guitarist Dave Jenkins and Lerois are next, beginning with the longing "Never Had A Love" and followed by their big hit at the time, "What'cha Gonna Do," by which time the audience is engaged. The album's up-tempo title track, co-written by bassist Bud Cockrell and Lerois, became the follow-up single and a high energy performance of it rounds out the new album material. The recording concludes by dipping back to the band's previous album, with the piano and guitar fueled instrumental "Zero To Sixty In Five." This conveys the solid musicianship of this band better than any of the vocal tracks and is a most impressive conclusion to a solid performance by Pablo Cruise in their prime.
-Written by Alan Bershaw