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THE BALANCING ACT BIOGRAPHY

The Balancing Act formed in Los Angeles in 1984. Their sound was built upon the folky feel of acoustic guitar, almost bordering on country (imagine Violent Femmes doing country music under the guidance of The Plimsouls' Peter Case). Uniquely layered harmonies, non-conventional instrumentation and thoughtful, sometimes quirky, songs rounded out their distinctive sound. After releasing the EP NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS on their own Type A Records label they caught the ears of Jay Boberg who urged Sam Gennawey, head of new I.R.S. imprint PMRC (Prinitive Man Recording Company), to give them a listen. Voila! The second artist signed to the new upstart imprint!


That they often chose to cover songs by the likes of Captain Beefheart, Funkadelic, or Public Image Ltd proved that they were not your typical folk-rock act. And this may have contributed to their eventual break up.
By their third and final record, PMRC was gone, so the prophetically entitled CURTAINS appeared on the IRS label proper.

Despite musically growing with each release, being a favorite among critics and having a devoted fan following, they failed to achieve commercial success and called it quits in 1989...

Willie Aron heads up a new band known as Mystery Pop (previously known as Spanish Kitchen). Mystery Pop's new CD came out in late 2002...


THE BALANCING ACT I.R.S. DISCOGRAPHY

This discography will cover only THE BALANCING ACT's recordings for I.R.S. Records. Recordings for other labels, other recordings, solo recordings and guest appearances, may be mentioned in the biography or discography, but details can be found by visiting some of the cool links for THE BALANCING ACT, below...

Albums & EPs

IRS 39097 NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS
IRS 39097 (Released 1986)

Vinyl & Cassette

Produced by Peter Case
Engineered by Edgar Garcia
Assisted by Ken Paulakovich
Recorded at Track Recorders, Los Angeles, 28 Nov 1985 and 2-9 Feb 1986
Cover Design By Lindsey Loch
Mastered at Precision Lacquer
Dedicated to Big Ray

Musicians:
Jeff DavisGuitar & Vocals
Willie Aron Guitar & Vocals
Steve Wagner Bass & Vocals
Robert Blackmon Drums & Vocals

Track Listing:

  1. Wonderful World Tonight 3:09
  2. Who Got THe Pearls 3:16
  3. A TV Guide in The Olduvai Gorge 4:22
  4. A Girl, Her Sister, And A Train 3:03
  5. The Neighborhood Phrenologist 3:14
  6. Zig Zag Wanderer 2:51

Los Angeles based quartet The Balancing Act got off to a rough but promising start with its acoustic debut, the EP NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS. With song structures reminiscent of early Violent Femmes (but without the offensive overtones) they managed to keep simple tunes fairly interesting despite sparse, repetitive arrangements. Definitely an atypical folk-rock group, the key from the beginning seemed to be the combination of smartly written, quirky tunes with unique vocal harmonies. Swapping turns on lead vocals worked in the band's favor, as each member had straightforward but adequate pipes. Their vocals dramatically improved over the next two years. Although the opening song, "Wonderful World Tonight", grabs the casual listener's attention successfully, none of the tracks on this EP are standouts. Recorded in 1986, NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS is by far their least impressive work, but it does give a strong clue that this is a likable band offering something new, and they're heading in the right direction.

--Greg Benson


Cope 2 THREE SQUARES AND A ROOF
IRS 42082(Released 1987)

Vinyl and Cassette

Produced by Vic Abascal and The Balancing Act
Recorded by Vic Abascal
Recorded at Lyceum Studios, Santa Monica, June & July 1987
Cover Design by Felice Matari
Cover Photos by Laurie Gaffin
Mastered by John Golden at K-Disc, Los Angeles


Musicians:
Jeff DavisGuitar & Vocals
Willie Aron Guitar & Vocals
Steve Wagner Bass & Vocals
Robert Blackmon Drums & Vocals

Song Listing:

  1. Three Cards 3:19
  2. This is Where It All Begins 2:56
  3. Kicking Clouds Acros The Sky 3:22
  4. Whiskered Wife 2:41
  5. Adventure 3:58
  6. Ballad Of Art Snyder 3:58
  7. Red Umbrella 2:57
  8. Governor Of Pedro 2:05
  9. Waiting For The Mail 3:08
  10. Searching For This Thing 3:41
  11. We're Not Lost 3:10
From the opening notes of The Balancing Act's first full-length album, it's obvious the group has grown leapsand bounds in the year since their low budget debut EP. Production-wise, we are treated to a fuller, gentler sound, with deliberately improved vocal performances and intricate harmonies. Unlike their first effort, nearly every track is a standout here, and although The Balancing Act is still an acoustic-based band, the more complex (and often electric) arrangements on this album serve each song much more effectively than before.

Their songwriting skills have also dramatically improved, yielding far less of the repitition which plagued NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS. "Whiskered Wife", "Red Umbrella" and "Searching For This Thing" are about as entertaining as pop songs can be. "Adventure" and "3 Cards" are finely crafted folk tunes with a unique edge, and "The Governor of Pedro" marks the welcome return off adding a fun instrumental to the mix (a staple of many great '70s pop albums, now sadly gone by the wayside). THREE SQUARES AND A ROOF is a success on all levels, leaving the listener eager to find what's around the next corner.

--Greg Benson


Cope 2 THREE SQUARES AND A ROOF/NEW CAMPFIRE SONGS
IRS 42082(Released 1988)

CD Only

Produced by Vic Abascal (* Peter Case)
Recorded at Lyceum Studios, Santa Monica, by Vic Abascal (* Track Record, Los Angeles)
* Engineered by Edgar Garcia
* Assisted by Ken PaulaKovich
Mastered by John Golden at K-Disc Los Angeles (* at Precision Lacquer)
Cover Design by Felice Matari, Lindsey Loch
Photos by Laurie Gaffin

Musicians:
Jeff DavisGuitar & Vocals
Willie Aron Guitar & Vocals
Steve Wagner Bass & Vocals
Robert Blackmon Drums & Vocals

Song Listing:

  1. Three Cards 3:19
  2. This is Where It All Begins 2:56
  3. Kicking Clouds Acros The Sky 3:22
  4. Whiskered Wife 2:41
  5. Adventure 3:58
  6. Ballad Of Art Snyder 3:58
  7. Red Umbrella 2:57
  8. Governor Of Pedro 2:05
  9. Waiting For The Mail 3:08
  10. Searching For This Thing 3:41
  11. We're Not Lost 3:10
  12. Wonderful World Tonight 3:09 *
  13. Who Got THe Pearls 3:16 *
  14. A TV Guide in The Olduvai Gorge 4:22 *
  15. A Girl, Her Sister, And A Train 3:03 *
  16. The Neighborhood Phrenologist 3:14 *
  17. Zig Zag Wanderer 2:51 *

CD-only release featuring both their debut EP and the full length LP. See the reviews for the individual releases, above.


Cope 2 CURTAINS
IRS 42237 (Released 1988)

CD, Vinyl and Cassette




Produced by Andy Gill
Engineered by Ronnie S Champagne


Musicians:
Jeff DavisGuitar & Vocals
Willie Aron Guitar, Keyboards, Melodica & Vocals
Steve Wagner Bass & Vocals
Robert Blackmon Drums & Vocals

Song Listing:

  1. Generator
  2. She Doesn't Work Here
  3. Lost In The Mail
  4. Red Pants And Romance
  5. Dangerous Roof
  6. Can You Get To That?
  7. Understanding Furniture
  8. Sleep On The Trusty Floor
  9. Fishing In Your Eye
  10. Between Two Oceans
  11. Learning How To Cheat

Prophetically titled, The Balancing Act's swan song is also their masterpiece, which is quite an impressive feat considering how likable THREE SQUARES AND A ROOF was. On CURTAINS, we find the group in a much more adventuresome mood. Suddenly their sound has a power it had lacked heretofore. Acoustic guitars take a back seat to intricate percussion (a world of difference in two years by drummer Blackmon), stronger rhythm guitar, and the welcome addition of piano, keyboards and melodica.

It's difficult to single out highlights from this splendid pop album, but without a doubt "She Doesn't Work Here" will be most listeners' favorite, not only because it is an excellent sing-along, but also most can identify with its frustrating theme of opportunity lost. Another nice surprise is the band's fantastic cover of Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That?", a song so good you'll want to write them a thank-you note! It's not the only track that surprises, though. "Fishing In Your Eye", "Generator" and "Understanding Furniture" sound so fresh (yes, over a decade later) that even after repeated listenings one still wonders just how music can be this good. (This is known as the Steely Dan Phenomenon).

What a shame that sales never equalled the critical praise The Balancing Act received, for since they've disbanded we've certainly missed out on some wonderful, intelligent, and infectious music.

--Greg Benson


Compilations & Soundtracks

CONFESSIONS OF AN IRS GROUPIE (IRS-SOUNDS [no #]): features "Can You Get To That?"


THE BALANCING ACT LINKS & OTHER COOL STUFF

Alas there are few links on the WWW for The Balancing Act! We'll keep looking for more but in the meantime, check out this site pertaining to Willie Aron:

Hopefully we'll add some more real soon!


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