Liner Notes from Steal Big by Dan Walters I first saw Heart Attack Diner in the mid 80\'s at a battle of the bands event in Orlando. I was struck by their songs, musicianship and the personal magnetism they generated on and off stage.They enthusiastically delivered good power-pop songs with strong playing and flawless vocals. During the set the PA and amplifiers shut down leaving the band with only the drum set generating sound. The drummer kept playing, the guitarist and bass player kept singing and started to clap their hands. The audience cheered and clapped along. The band kept this up until the power came back on (to another cheer) and then finished the song. I became a fan that night and over the next few years attended dozens of their shows--shows which were like carnival events. Lots of interaction with the audience and drunken spontaneity spilled over into dog piles on the dance floor and 20+ people on stage with grade school percussion instrum! Ents singing along to \'Feelin\' Alright.\' I think a couple of people actually joined the band temporarily just by showing up and getting on stage night after night. The Diner wouldn\'t say no to anyone or to any song. I think I was there the night the \'Hokey Pokey\' somehow inked it's way onto their song list. In those years in Orlando--the pre boy band era, pre Matchbox 20/Seven Mary 3 regular-guy-pop signing frenzy--The Diner was generating a huge local following and the beginnings of the industry buzz that usually follows such excitement. By the time the labels came calling The Diner was driving a hard bargain and chose to remain independent. They released a cassette that was full of great songs but didn\'t capture the excitement and performance level they were bringing to their live shows. The band members began to pursue individual interests and soon Heart Attack Diner was only playing a few times a year. They released a CD that was basically a hodge-podge of recordings from various versions of the band: two different drummers, with and without saxophone, with and without keyboards. The unifying thread to the album was the singing and writing of bassist Shawn Fernandez and guitarist Rick Bailey. Their singing together was a major feature of this record, the blend and quality o! f which brought to mind the pre-Sergeant Pepper Beatles. The songs themselves were catchy, memorable pop which seemed to draw equally from Philly soul and British new wave. Despite these two recordings, Heart Attack Diner has been sadly under-represented on records. Until now. This record brings together the great singing, the 20+ years of playing together and a new batch of catchy, clever, melodic pop songs that explore themes ranging from joy to despair, from every-man sketches of domestic life to the perils and complications of romantic attraction. In addition to Bailey and Fernandez, original drummer Parke Hill is here. Parke was missing for a few years playing in other bands but has been back in the Diner for many years. Saxophonist Tom Holyce joined the band soon after the trio performance I saw in the mid 80\'s and has been in the band ever since, including playing drums for a time during the missing Parke years. Longtime keyboardist Byron Cornwell adds sounds and sonic depth missing from the earlier Diner recordings. Rick Bailey has produced numerous records for other artists over the past 25 or so years and brings a wealth of ideas and experience to the production of this record. In recent years Parke Hill has begun producing and, now part! Nered with Rick, the two of them have crafted a record that is sonically rich and varied, with clear, layered arrangements that deepen the impact of the songs and bring repeated pleasure to the ear. It has been years since the last Diner record and it took them at least two years to make this record. They fussed and rewrote, re-mixed, fought, made up and finally delivered this record to the pressing plant. This is the album Diner fans have long expected the band to make. This definitely is the one I\'ve been waiting for. I\'m glad they finally did it.
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