Monday, June 4, 2018

Aim - 1974 - Aim for the Highest

Aim for the Highest

01. Aim For The Highest 2:47
02. My Friend 4:16
03. Hollywood 2:02
04. You Need Me 4:22
05. Seattle 3:37
06. I'm There 4:04
07. Morning Magic 2:18
08. How Are We To Live 2:56
09. Endlessly 2:59
10. 4 O'Clock Rock 3:18
11. We Can Make It 3:05

Michael W. Overly - lead & background vocals, guitars, flutes
Patrick O' Conner - bass
Warren 'Bugs' Pemberton - drums
Loren Newkirk - electric and acoustic piano, organ, harpsichord
Alan Estes - congas, background vocals

Recorded and mixed at Wally Heider's Hollywood

There are elements of Steely Dan in here as well as the Doobie Brothers, but vocally I hear a hint of Stevie Wonder in Michael Overly's performance. Add to this a smattering of a jazz influence (listen to Overly's scat vocals on 'You Need Me' and Loren Newkirk's electric piano work throughout), and you have one very interesting album. The predominant mood of 'Aim For The Highest' is one of sunny, West-Coast positivity. 

A very cool logo on Aim's only LP and easy to spot in cut-out bins for many years; Aim was headed up by guitarist Michael W. Overly who made a name for himself as a solo artist and later in the group Christopher Cloud with Tommy Boyce formerly of the bubblegum songwriting duo Boyce & Hart. Following the 1973 LP 'Blown Away', Christopher Cloud split with Overly forming Aim shortly thereafter and hitting the road with Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult, The Guess Who and BTO in support of 'Aim For the Highest'.

With the band's photo surrounded by what appears to be angel wings and lyric content on several tracks that could be construed as 'religious', I imagine this was tough album to market. The title track sets the tone with a loud Ohio Players influenced funk-up, turning it down for the lazy R&B of 'My Friend' and 'Hollywood' which checks-in as side one's best cut matched with the poppy 'Morning Magic' happily recalling the first Steely Dan album. 'Endlessly' is a nice classically based ballad which includes harpsichord, an instrument.

I love this album. It's so high energy that it's hard not to be infected by the enthusiasm in the grooves. I can't sing to save my soul, but that doesn't stop me from trying to keep up with Michael Overly's atmospheric, Soaring vocal range. To this day I think his guitar playing / style and vocals are some of the most unique that I've ever heard. The rest of the band are no Slouch either, they're all excellent. The drummer is exceptionally impressive and the bass player lays down a very solid foundation for the soaring guitar and vocal work.

I believe there's a possibility that this album is a "Christian" rock album due to some of the references made in the lyrics, but the message is so subtle that unless you're really paying attention to the lyrics you'd never know. At any rate listening to this album is pretty much a spiritual experience anyhow so that's not a detracting point.

These days Michael Overly lives in Dayton Ohio and writes some of the best instruction guides for guitar that you can buy. If you play, check out 12 Tone Music Publishing...

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