Sunrise

Sunrise were an American art-rock/pop band that released a self-titled album on Buddah in 1977. The album was produced by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and engineered by Ralph Moss, whose other credits from the era include albums by Gladys Knight & The Pips, Glass Harp, Lou Reed, Mother Goose, Norman Connors, Ruth Copeland (Take Me to Baltimore), and Les Variations. Sunrise singer/keyboardist Domenic Cicchetti later surfaced on albums by Liza Minnelli and Meat Loaf.

Members: Michael Berman (bass, vocals), Domenic Cicchetti (keyboards, background vocals), Ronn Payne (guitar, background vocals), Greg Vance (drums)


Sunrise (1977)

On their singular album, Sunrise tie the harmonic expansiveness of their jazz-rock contemporaries to the pop foundationalism of the mid-’60s beat boom. The album’s two instrumentals, “Saturn Rain” and “Blue Bessie Bossa,” both work to bridge the stylistic gulf between Revolver and The Inner Mounting Flame. “Saturn Rain” showcases the rapidfire precision of Cicchetti and guitarist Ronn Payne, whose lines weave in and out of one another with harmolodic dexterity. On “Blue Bessie Bossa,” a flurry of legato licks, rapid-fire bass lines, scat harmonies, and diamond Fender runs are unleashed over nonstop chromatic key changes.

Meanwhile, the album’s vocal tracks demonstrate how jazz-rock runs can be reined into the Beatlesque framework. The harmony pop of “Don’t Ask Now” races through a sequence of fuzzy guitar licks, glowing Fender fills, soaring ARP passages, and phased hi-hat runs. Elsewhere, the mid-tempo “Find Some Time” weds four-chord harmonies to a slick hi-hat backbeat. On the slow, subdued “Christine,” Leslied effects thicken the song’s minor-key, organ-padded tenderness. On the 2/4 rhythmic plop of “Sunrise Scherzo,” guitar filigree and vocal harmonies recurrently wind through a flange-laden sonic spiral. Across the album, conventional bar chords in the verses are constantly interspersed with far-reaching sharps and flats in the bridges and middle sections.

The album’s colorful, pinball/poker-themed cover was created by comics artist Jim Evans, whose other music-related credits from the period include cover illustrations for the Beach Boys 15 Big Ones and the Allman Brothers Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas (both 1976) as well as ex-Doors guitarist Robby Krieger‘s 1977 jazz-rock album Robby Krieger & Friends.


Legacy

Musically, the Sunrise album casts a wide net between the melodic charm and quaintness of Stories, Sleepy Hollow, The Buoys and The Movies with the harmonic density and grandeur of Ambrosia, Fireballet, Surprise, and Yezda Urfa. In doing so, Sunrise threaded a needle between rock’s foundationalist past, maximalist present, and fractious future, in some sense presaging the skewed complexities of Tin Huey, Wazmo Nariz, Oingo Boingo, and Wall of Voodoo.


Discography:

  • Sunrise (1977)

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