Keep or Cull – John O’Banion


Thrift stores are kind of great fodder for a blog about albums.

In part because LPs tend to be priced so affordably that if you see something you don’t know, you have incentive to try it since it isn’t a huge drain on your wallet.

I had no idea who John O’Banion was before seeing this in a goodwill bin.

Based on the cover, I’d have guessed vaguely country or singer-songwriter, but nope.

Most of the songs on this 1981 Elektra album were written by Joey Carbone and/or Richie Zito.

Although Zito has worked with folks like Neil Sedaka and Elton John, he scored his biggest success producing sleek radio pop rock for folks like Heart, Eddie Money, Bad English, and Cheap Trick.

Carbone’s credentials range from session work for Rod Stewart and Cher, to music director for Star Search, to crafting the theme to It’s Gary Shandling’s Show.


The album is very much an early 80s pop rock album.

In fact, the very first song Love You Like I Never Loved Before sounds very much in the vein of Huey Lewis and the News’ If This is It.

Many other songs vaguely remind me of Foreigner, but not quite with that band’s signature hooks, although O’Banion does sound slightly like Lou Gramm.

One or twice, the album veers more toward pop, like the vaguely post disco champagne fizz of If You Love Me or the romantic balladry of Love is In Your Eyes.

There is even a cover of Walk Away Renee that reminds me of the contemporaneous TV theme work of Mike Post, which is to say that the bittersweetly baroque 60s song becomes a bit bombastic.

Love You Like I Never Loved Before – one of seven songs with the word love in the title – was a top 40 hit, but that was about it for his chart action in the US.

He acted a bit, recorded a bit more, and died just a few days shy of his 60th birthday in 2007.

That story is kind of sad.

But this album doesn’t really resonate with me.

It is well crafted, but nothing really stands out or transcends the formulations of radio friendly pop rock.

And so it’s a cull for me.