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第二十章:四周传来的讯息 (1995-1996) (News From Everywhere)

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Chapter Twenty: News From Everywhere (1995-1996)

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      In January of 1995, the new album was almost complete and Air Supply began a short tour of the U.S. They performed in a rather minimalist fashion, as a three-piece band as opposed to five-piece unit they had used for years. The shows were billed as an acoustic celebration of their 20th year together, a concept they introduced in 1990. The unplugged show featured a stark set, with a candelabra resting on the piano that added a bit more stature than the MTV living room couch approach used by so many artists. “The show is very acoustic,” said Russell. “We’ve found that a great song is a great song and lends itself to a lot of different surroundings, musically.”

      The live band now consisted of Mark Williams on drums, Cliff Rehrig on bass, and either Guy Allison or Hans Zermuehlen on piano. “The band we have with us now will hopefully be with us forever because it really is a family,” said Graham. “I know that is really cliche, but it is with us, you know. Not only are they excellent musicians but they know the way that Russell and I think. They do play with other people and they come from great musical stock.” Air Supply played several new songs in concert from the forthcoming album, which was expected for release in March in most countries. “We’ve done four or five shows so far, and the people who have seen us have all be complimentary,” says Russell. “We are playing most of the things people are familiar with but hopefully they will enjoy the stuff we’re going to play from the new record. It’s a great-sounding album, but it’s the kind of thing that needs to be listened to actively. It’s quite an intense album for us.”

      The tour throughout the States showed Air Supply using in-ear monitors on stage, eliminating the need for floor monitors or wedges. This relatively new technology made it possible to move freely around the stage without losing a dedicated monitor. But more importantly, they reduced the strain on a performers hearing and vocals. “We have these specifically made for our ears so that we can listen to the sound on the stage,” describes Russell. “This is more new technology that is very difficult to get used to. They stick this stuff in your ear that is like a Styrofoam and they then yank it out, send it away and give you these tiny little headphones, like what you get with a Sony Walkman. The problem with them for me was not the actual sound in them, but a lot of the stuff we do in concert rely on what the people in the audience are saying. So I have to take one out after each song so I can hear if anybody is making any smart remarks, then I put them back in to sing. They come so highly recommended because they save your voice, and your ears also because you don't have to have such a loud volume on stage. They really are a life saver.”

Graham, Cliff, Mark, Russell, Guy - China 1995

      On March 15, Air Supply was invited by the Ministry of Culture to perform six concerts inside communist China, two each in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The 90-minute concerts were televised, but only to a domestic audience within China. Air Supply’s middle-of-the-road image and its string of chart-topping ballads made them very popular all over the country. Concert organizers charged 4.8 million yuan ($775 million) to any company that agreed to become the sole advertiser and sponsor of the Air Supply tour.

      Air Supply was the second Australian band to appear in China. Australian rock band Yothu Yindi made a brief appearance in 1994 when they played an impromptu performance at a local bar. They were in Beijing to film part of an advertisement for Qantas. Other Western musicians to have performed in China by government invitation included Paula Abdul, John Denver, Paul Simon, Wham! and BB King. Other major stars such as Madonna had tried to perform in China but were refused permission by the authorities.

      Just one week before Air Supply performed in China, Swedish pop band Roxette played a single concert in Beijing. Bringing Roxette to China’s capital took more than a year to arrange, and Chinese government officials had to see performance videos before they gave the OK. The band was forced to sensor their lyrics somewhat; ‘making up to you’ instead of ‘making love to you.’ SheRock was the first American band to be invited to tour and record in China. The group performed a total of 16 concerts in the cities of Shanghai, Huangzhou and Guangzhou before an estimated 125,000 people. Edie Robertson, SheRock’s lead singer, said that the group made some adjustments for the visit. “We had to modify our dress and some of our lyrics. For instance, we had to change the word ‘freedom’ to ‘friendship,’ as the former has apparently rebellious connotations.”

      The concerts in China were an indication of the countries growing commercial appeal to Western pop artists. Air Supply was well positioned to take advantage of this huge market despite strict rules enforced by the communist government. “When we first went there to tour, we had to go in front of this panel,” said Graham. “You had to bring all the lyrics, what your were going to wear on stage, and what songs you were going to do. There were all these generals sitting behind a semi-circular desk and you come in for an interview. They are all sitting very stiff, wearing all kinds of medals, and they ask all sorts of questions through an interpreter. But you have to pass this test before you can play. We had never been there before, and our only exposure to China has been through television and magazines, but right from the very first song that we played, people went crazy.”

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      “For the Beijing shows we played a few nights in this basketball stadium,” says Russell, “and we were given a warning because we usually go into the crowd during the show, but they said we could not go into the audience or they would stop the show. The first two nights we did not go into the audience, but the third night we did and all these green uniforms came rushing forward. But by then it was too late.” Air Supply’s tour of China was an overwhelming success as all six shows were a sellout. An impressive accomplishment considering the Beijing venue’s each seated 20,000. In addition, the band was not sure what kind of response they would get from a country they had not played before. “The people knew every word we were singing,” said Russell. “That makes you feel warm inside.”

      Air Supply’s popularity in Asia and Latin America meant that Graham and Russell had very little time to spend on individual projects. Graham’s Robin Hood-inspired rock opera was shelved indefinitely. He knew it would be a tough sell after the release of several Robin Hood movies and plays, including the popular Kevin Costner film in 1991 and the Mel Brooks comedy Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Graham included the title song, ‘The Heart of the Rose,’ on the new Air Supply album. “I wrote the song in 1988,” recalls Graham. “It is a lush meditation on the essence of life, and holds special meaning for me. And, I’ve been saving it. I hope the song touches people.”  

       It was during this time that Russell had surgery to help cure his longtime battle with throat infections. “I had my tonsils out, which was very traumatic for me,” he said. “It took me a long time to mentally get over it, but I had so much trouble before the operation with throat infections and having to cancel shows and stuff like that. It’s a drag when you have your tonsils out as an adult. It’s really painful in your 40s. Since I’ve had the surgery, I’ve been pretty good. I got over the mental thing of having them out, and I think I sing better now than I used to. I sometimes listen to our early recordings and I don’t like the way my voice sounds. I sometimes wish I had some scratch like Joe Cocker or Rod Stewart. But I don’t have that and I’m stuck with this.”  

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        The album ‘News From Nowhere’ was released on March 28, along with the first single ‘Someone.’ There was very little promotion for the album in North America, so many Air Supply fans were pleasantly surprised to find the CD on the new release wall in record stores. The lack of promotion by Giant Records was perhaps an indication of the labels falling confidence in the bands ability to sell records in North America. There were also internal problems developing within the Giant organization, which threatened to change how the label operated. Regardless, ‘Someone’ was released as a single in North America, South East Asia and South America, and debuted at #60 on the Billboard AC chart. Radio response to the song was lukewarm at best despite a positive review by Billboard Magazine:

        Aussie male duo that racked up countless hits during the 80s is ushered back into the competitive fray with a pop ballad that rolls with a rock/world-beat slant a la Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes.’ The two swap verses and chorus segments to dramatic effect - thanks largely to the fact that both still have wildly limber tenor vocal power. First peek into ‘News From Nowhere’ has tremendous promise for widespread play at adult pop radio. - Billboard

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'Someone' Single (Daniel Salome)

         BMG International promoted the album heavily in Asia and had big plans for the band in 1995. To promote the album in the Philippines, several free concerts were announced in April for those who bought a copy of ‘News From Nowhere.’ In late 1994, Clive Gardiner and Air Supply began work on a karaoke video release for the Asian market. The concept was part of BMG’s worldwide move into karaoke entertainment, and the creation of a new original-artist karaoke label called Karaoke Gold. Gardiner was the head of the video department of BMG Entertainment Asia-Pacific division in Hong Kong, and his plan was to develop a multi-format project that centered on a live, 20-track karaoke Laserdisc.

         The Laserdisc concept may have been puzzling to those in North America, because the format was only popular with a small group of enthusiasts, who preferred its superior picture quality to that of VHS and BETA. But in the more affluent areas of Asia, such as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, Laserdisc was the preferred home video format. In fact, Laserdisc was the primary video rental medium in Hong Kong. Gardiner knew the huge potential of the project based on the successful karaoke album by the Bee Gees in 1992, which sold 25,000 units while using outdated video footage. BMG predicted that an Air Supply karaoke Laserdisc might sell 50,000 units, while a live music CD of Air Supply’s greatest hits could reach sales of over 600,000. The project also offered Giant Records an opportunity to capitalize on Air Supply’s success in the 80s. Because the CD was to be a live recording, Giant could release the product in North America with a percentage of earlier Air Supply hits owned by Arista, without having to pay royalties. BMG International was licensed to use Arista recordings because of the partnership they formed several years earlier, which had already resulted in the release of several Arista-based Air Supply compilations outside of North America.


         Air Supply returned to the Philippines in early April for a six-day promotional tour in support of ‘News From Nowhere.’ The trip was part of a lengthy five week tour of Asia that included radio and television appearances and several concerts that focused on the new record. This tour was a prelude to another five week tour of southeast Asia in May and June. During press interviews, Graham told reporters that ‘News From Nowhere’ was the most personal record he had ever written. He wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 11 tracks, some of which touch on the spiritual side of life. “It is different from our previous efforts, although we do recognize that our love songs and ballads have a strong following,” said Graham. “There is a sort of spirituality in this album, and it comes through if you listen carefully enough. We have gone through quite a bit, and this album is perhaps a way of letting us know that we have pulled through fine. I don’t think the [song writing] process has changed, but the way I look at songs, I’ve got a lot better at. In the early years, I used to write a song and that was it. But now I think about it very carefully before I complete the song. The lyrics have become much more important for me now, where in the past, I wrote a lot of lyrics that didn’t necessarily make any sense.”

      ‘Just Between the Lines’ is a song included on ‘News From Nowhere’ that Graham wrote in the 70s, and contains lyrics that are not easy to follow. “This is a song Russell and I used to sing a long time ago when we were still in Superstar,” said Graham. “I rediscovered the song in my Dad’s basement. He lives in Tweed Heads and he was getting on my case about getting rid of a lot of junk I had down there. I found a lot of old tapes including one with this song. I played it to Russell when we were recording ‘News From Nowhere’ and he said that we should do it. It is the favourite song on the album for a lot of people, but it could never be a single, as it’s a bit too esoteric. The words don’t really make sense, but they do to me.” Graham collaborated with Guy Allison on a track called ‘Can’t Stop The Rain.’ “This was written by Graham and me after a gig one night while riding on the bus,” recalls Allison. “It was my first real string arrangement that went to manuscript paper first. Although not a single, it has always been one of my favourite tracks on this album. Both Graham’s and Russell’s vocals are very haunting.”

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'Unchained Melody' Music Video
      While back home in the States, Graham and Russell filmed music videos for future singles ‘Always,’ and the band’s remake of the Righteous Brothers’ ‘Unchained Melody.’ Both songs had enormous potential to get Air Supply deep into the American charts. “‘Unchained Melody’ is on the album because of requests from fans,” says Russell. “That’s the single reason for doing it. Without wanting to sound egotistical, I think we made it an ‘Air Supply’ song.” Graham felt Air Supply recorded the song because it needed to be “reintroduced to a new generation,” especially with his partner’s unique voice. Despite being one of the most covered songs of all time, Air Supply believed that their version was one of the best, and would succeed despite the onslaught of rock, heavy metal and grunge. “I didn’t want to do it,” said Graham, “because everybody and their dog had done it. But I agreed to do it because Russell really wanted to do it. I thought that he should sing it then, as he is one of the worlds greatest singers, and great singers should sing great songs. Once I agreed for myself to do it, we went in and I thought it was one of the best versions of the song. It was a big hit for us in Asia.”

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'Always' Promotional CD Single - Europe

      In May, Air Supply began the long five-week tour throughout Asia, called the ‘Air Supply Always World Tour.’ The tour coincided with the release of the new single ‘Always,’ which was quickly climbing the music charts in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. It was also released in North America, where it did not chart. ‘News From Nowhere’ became the #1 selling album in Taiwan, proving that Air Supply could achieve success without a presence in America. “We actually pride ourselves in that fact,” said Russell. “The market for us in the U.S. is very limited.”

      Air Supply’s popularity in the Philippines continued to grow, and this was apparent when a second show was added in Manila due to insistent public demand. On June 15-16, towards the end of the Asian tour, Air Supply played two live shows in Taipei, Taiwan. Both concerts were recorded as part of the BMG/Giant karaoke video and live CD project, expected for release in November or December. The concerts had Air Supply perform with the Taipei Symphony led by Mei-Ying Lin and Mark Williams. “For the video shoot, Mark conducted the string section, and I never knew he could do that,” said Russell. “I've known the guy for three or four years and I thought he was just a drummer!”  

      BMG Music Taiwan hosted a large party for Air Supply to celebrate the bands 20th anniversary, and the sale of over 160,000 units of ‘News From Nowhere’ in Taiwan. Band manager, Barry Siegel, took part in the festivities. “We have been looking forward to coming to Taipei this time for several reasons,” said Graham. “First, we have a lot of friends here now as we have been coming here for 14 years. Secondly, our album is doing very well here thanks to BMG.”

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New Songs Sampler - Taiwan Promo

      On August 25, the third North American fan club convention was organized around two free concerts at the New York State Fair Grounds in Syracuse. Air Supply played two one-hour sets, consisting of their most popular hits and a few songs from ‘News From Nowhere.’ The live band was Cliff Rehrig, Mark Williams and Hans Zermuehlen. After the second show, a fan gathering took place at the Hotel Syracuse where fans each received a gift upon entering the conference room. One of these gifts was a cassette single of a new and unreleased song called ‘The Way I Feel.’ “I wrote the song in Taiwan,” said Graham. “I had another song ready to go, and another before that. I felt strongly about both but then this one came along. Guy Allison had played the riff a long time ago in March or April and I had my tape recorder on. Guy tinkers around on the piano all the time, and when I hear something I’ll tell him to play it again. I changed the key of the song and within ten minutes it was done. I felt the song was very Beatles or John Lennon-sounding, which always excites me.” Fans at the convention were treated to a preview of the unreleased live concert video that was filmed in Taiwan three months earlier. It was announced that the fan club was about to undergo a major overhaul, with Simon Russell acting as the new club President.

Rita Coolidge & Air Supply 1986

      Russell ventured out on his own again as a solo artist to record a duet with American singer Rita Coolidge. The song, ‘Is It You,’ was included on Rita’s 1995 album ‘Behind The Memories,’ but was not released as a single. It went mostly unnoticed by Air Supply fans until several years later, when the internet provided greater access to rare and hard-to-find songs.

      There were very few Air Supply compilation CDs released in 1995, as the record labels focused mostly on new material from the band. To help promote ‘News From Nowhere’ in Taiwan, BMG, Arista and Giant released a promotional CD called ‘Air Supply - Gold Hits & New Songs Sampler.’ The CD included the two latest singles ‘Always’ and ‘Unchained Melody,’ plus an impressive mix of 18 songs from 1980 to 1993. Because the CD was a promotional item, it was not released in large volumes, making it highly collectible.


      On November 11, BMG Entertainment held a party in Bombay, India, to announce a joint venture with Crescendo Music. Crescendo was a local Bombay company that rose from humble beginnings in a garage, to become one of the major players in the Indian music and entertainment business. Crescendo was the official distributor of Air Supply recordings in India, and the merger with BMG allowed them to become a multinational company. ‘News From Nowhere’ was released in India in August, and sold quite well considering Air Supply had not done any promotion in the country. In fact, Air Supply had never performed or promoted themselves in India for their entire 20 year career.

      Graham and Russell flew into Bombay for a two-day visit and were impressed with India, despite the uncertainties of the traffic situation and power breakdowns the day before the ‘News From Nowhere’ launch. “People who have heard our music, and understand what we do, they are enthusiastic to see us, and that certainly has been the case here,” said Russell. “Right from when we arrived at the airport, everybody has been so wonderful to us, very warm, open and friendly. We’ve made several attempts in the past couple of years to come here to play concerts, but it was either the weather or some political upheaval that made us have to cancel our plans. But we have thought about coming here for a while.”  

       The BMG-Crescendo launch party was intended to be a quick promotional visit for Air Supply and other artists signed to BMG or Crescendo. The event was for invitees only, and included over one thousand of Bombay’s elite, representing a wide cross section that covered the music, film, fashion and media industries. BMG-Crescendo arranged for several artists to perform, including Indian bands Indus Creed, Mehnaz and Anaida, and Australian chart-topper Merril Bainbridge. As the evening progressed, Russell and Graham became overwhelmed with the live performances and decided to join in on the festivities. Wearing earrings and two-piece suits, they quickly put together five of their greatest hits and surprised the audience with an outstanding impromptu performance. It was the highlight of the night as the crowd clapped and sang along to all the songs. “Our performance was a gut reaction to the music that was being played,” said Russell. “We were fascinated by the stuff - the tablas, the Indian instruments - and thought why not? It was impromptu, nothing rehearsed, just a bunch of songs thrown together. We were surprised. People down in the front were calling out songs that were, for us now, a little obscure. It was very nice to hear that because it means that they’ve listened to the stuff quite intently, because those songs were not necessarily hits.”

       Russell and Graham were unsure what to expect from crowds in India because they had very little knowledge of how many records they had sold in the country. “We don’t know what the sales are,” explains Graham, “but we presume that they are pretty good, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked us to come here. They are anticipating our sales to increase dramatically, but they must be fairly healthy already. I think because we’ve been together for twenty years now, most parts of the world have some kind of knowledge of us. And that’s a nice place to be after all these years. It’s great coming to India for the first time.” Before heading back to America, Air Supply and Crescendo discussed a future tour of India, perhaps as early as February.

Jed Moss

      As Air Supply prepared for a tour of South America, they learned that Guy Allison was leaving the band to join the Doobie Brothers. Graham quickly inquired at a music shop near his home in Utah, asking if they knew of any pianists who might be interested in going on a tour. The store owner, Skip Daynes, introduced Graham to a local pianist named Jed Moss. Graham invited him to his Utah home where Moss provided a small bio of himself. Without holding an official audition, Graham asked if he was interested in flying to Los Angeles to rehearse for a week, before leaving for South America. Moss gladly accepted the invitation but had doubts if he could fit the bill.

       “Air Supply was leaving for a major tour of South America,” recalls Moss. “Graham told Skip he was looking for a classically trained pianist who has chops. I was working at Daynes Music shop, rehearsing upstairs on a 9-foot concert grand Steinway on consignment, which belonged to Graham.[Graham] simply gave me a stack of CDs and asked if I could learn these songs. In fact, I told a friend of mine in Los Angeles to stay home, because they would probably discover that I was a fraud and I’d be right back home. We rehearsed for four days and did one concert in Thousand Oaks, California. Our next concert was in Lima, Peru. I owe so much to these guys because they run all of their rehearsals like pros. It was good because I went into that with a blank page, and I was molded into what was needed. I told my parents, and they had heard all of Air Supply’s music, they just didn’t know Air Supply was the name of the group. So I told my mom I was playing with this group and she started bragging to all her friends that her son was playing for a group called ‘Quality Air.’ She told them that the band had a least ten big hits and everybody she told was like, ‘I’ve never heard of that group!’”

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BMG 15 Track CD - 1995

       In late November, BMG released three distinct Air Supply products in Asia, South America and Australia. The first was a live music CD called ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live.’ The second was a karaoke Laserdisc/VHS called ‘Now and Forever Karaoke.’ The third was a Laserdisc/VHS video special called ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live.’ The project was the result of over a year of hard work by Clive Gardiner, BMG and Giant Records.

       “There are twenty songs on the long-form video, and fifteen on the audio CD,” said Graham. “We couldn’t put every hit, since we have more than fifteen. So we just really looked at the songs and the shows, and put together what we feel is part of a retrospective of our hits from the beginning to the present. It is multi-format: CD-ROM, karaoke, Laserdisc, and three video formats. It’s a landmark for us and I think it’s gonna be a big seller. The release date is November 30th all over the world, except America and Europe, where it comes out in February, 1996.”

       Included on the live CD and videos were two new studio recordings, ‘The Way I Feel,’ and a re-recorded version of the 1982 song, ‘Now and Forever.’ ‘The Way I Feel’ was released as a single in some parts of Asia, and was a #1 hit in China and Taiwan. “This song was a big hit in many countries,” said Graham. “It has a very unusual chord structure that changes key in the verse. I love to do that, it sends you on a journey.” The ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits’ CD took the Asian music charts by storm, especially in Hong Kong where it was the #1 album for 15 weeks. In Australia, it reached #60 on the Kent Music Report, which was quite an accomplishment considering all three previous Air Supply albums from Giant/BMG failed to chart in Australia.

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Giant Records U.S. Advertisement - 1996

      The ‘Now and Forever Karaoke’ and ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live’ Laserdisc/VHS videos were selling well, perhaps bolstered by KTV, a Singapore-based satellite TV channel that ran promotional telecasts for the CD and video. In addition, BMG, Warner, and several other record labels purchased a 50% share of STAR TV’s music station Channel [V], which served as an advertising tool for Air Supply’s new releases. MTV refused to play Air Supply video’s, but there was suddenly new opportunities for the band on international TV. “This is the one we have been waiting to do,” says BMG marketing VP Stuart Rubin. “It’s a totally integrated project that is perfect for TV marketing. Air Supply embraced it from the start, because their melodies and lyrics fit right into Asia’s emotional connection to love songs.”

      The video portion of the karaoke product was taken from the two concerts in Taiwan, and included five promotional Air Supply music videos. “This format has been virtually ignored by Western artists,” said Clive Gardiner. “It seems the only reason is that they think karaoke is too amateurish. ‘Now and Forever Karaoke’ is a great personal expression to demonstrate the incredible potential of karaoke in Asia.” “We knew that BMG would be the ones to bring it home because of Gardiner, and a commitment to the type of quality this thing needed,” said Russell. Air Supply was so impressed with the karaoke and live CD that they discussed future projects with local BMG artists, such as Hong Kong pop singer Winnie Lau. “We love Asia!” claims Russell. “We love the possibility of anything happening, and if that means working with Chinese artists, then we don’t want to hold back.”

       The third single, ‘Unchained Melody,’ was released in Asia and Latin America by BMG/Giant, and it did extremely well in these regions. It received significant airplay and was especially popular in karaoke bars. Giant Records released the single in the U.S. but it went unnoticed. The song has become a favourite with fans of the band.  

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Unchained Melody - U.S. CD Single (Giant)

       As 1995 drew to a close, Russell and Graham reminisced about making music together for so many years. “You have to ride the lows and be determined that you can get through this together, to achieve success again and enjoy the kind of success that we are having now,” said Russell. “It’s hard to believe that its been twenty years. I’d never dreamed that we would have maintained such a long career. I have a little seven year old daughter and we will take it a year at a time.” “People ask us what the formula is, and that’s a good question,” Graham said. “When I think about it now it’s like a dream. Like I have been asleep for twenty years. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I think about Australia and the early years.”

       With two albums released in the same year, and their international popularity at an all time high, Air Supply planned to slow things down in 1996. “We have some touring plans for next year, and we’ll see what happens after that,” said Graham. “It will probably be another year before we do a studio album. We need some time to refresh ourselves. We’ve probably got twenty or thirty new songs for the next album. Right now, we just want to see what happens to the greatest hits live collection, and we’ll make plans when we have to. After this I don’t think we will release anything until 1997. We don’t want people to get fed up with us! I’d also like to do movie scores. Nobody has asked me, but I’d like to.”

       1996 began with a tour throughout the U.S., including a performance in Alaska. The smaller venues that Air Supply played in the U.S. allowed fans to experience a more intimate performance. This included reworked versions of the group’s hits and also acoustic performances. “Our profile in the U.S. is much lower than it is in a lot of other countries, so we sort of scale the show down to suit the audience,” said Graham. “This is our 20th year together. So to keep playing the hits the way they were is virtually impossible for us. Of course, the audience will still recognize them completely, they’ll just be in a different light.”

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Graham's Home in Utah

       Graham took advantage of this time in America to build a recording studio on the top floor of his home in Utah. The 32-track home studio was an important step for Air Supply because it gave them greater control over the recording process, and made them less reliant on Giant Records, who were becoming less interested in throwing money into the band. “It gives me more freedom,” said Graham. “I don’t worry about spending money with the clock ticking. I can work at my own leisure, and start preproduction and put the songs in order.” Los Angeles was Air Supply’s main recording base for many years but most of the band was now living in Utah, so it made sense to centralize the recording process. Furthermore, Graham was now comfortable producing his own music, and was hoping to produce and promote other bands in the future. In addition to the new studio, Graham and Jodi purchased 1,000 acres of land adjacent to their property, with the intention of creating a wildlife preserve. “We do love it here,” said Graham. “I don’t think we could buy this place anywhere else.”

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Fan Club Merchandise 1996

       Giant Records released ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ in Europe and North America in February. The CD was already considered a big success in Asia, where it soon reached sales of over 500,000 units, and became the second best selling album of 1996 in Hong Kong. Only Celine Dion and her ‘Falling Into You’ album kept Air Supply from the top spot. The Giant Records CD featured a reversed album title, and included just 12 tracks compared to 15 on the earlier BMG international release. “We have been asked for ten years to record a live album,” says Graham. “We have never done one. Because this is our 20th year, it was time to do it.” ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ was the first hits collection released in North America since the multi-platinum 1983 ‘Greatest Hits,’ and it sold surprisingly well despite having no support from radio.

       The Air Supply fan club went through major changes in 1996. Club organizers Cindy and Simon Russell put together a new lifetime membership offer, which included a welcome package complete with Air Supply collectibles and a backstage pass valid for all live shows. The club operated out of Beverly Hills, California.

       Air Supply was well ahead of most bands when they launched a home page on the internet in 1996. The initial site was rather primitive, like most websites at the time, but for fans with internet access, the website offered a plethora of information about the band, including concert dates and new merchandise promotion. Online commerce was still several years away from becoming mainstream, so Air Supply merchandise had to be ordered through the official fan club by phone or mail. The website was especially important to Air Supply fans because it provided information about the band at a time when the media, particularly in North America, showed no interest in them.

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       The newly renovated fan club sold the final item in the ‘Now and Forever’ karaoke/video project, a unique CD-ROM called ‘As Close As This...’ An Interactive Voyage Into The Music of Air Supply. Clive Gardiner and Rosemary Tan produced the ambitious and highly creative CD-ROM, which required a rather powerful computer at that time. The CD featured 50 minutes of exclusive video footage, a new song entitled ‘Mother Said,’ personal career diary of Air Supply, trivia, a media-bank of press articles and many never-before seen photos. The project gave fans a glimpse into the personal, and often guarded lives of Graham and Russell. “I hope you will enjoy the journey and get to know us a little better,” says Russell, “as we’ve shared not only our ‘job’ but also our private lives with you. The last twenty years has been an incredible experience for me. Our beginning in Australia, our first experiences in the U.S. and Asia, our successes and a million other things have been captured for you to explore here.” The CD-ROM was manufactured and distributed by BMG International Asia Pacific and Giant Records. In North America, the CD-Rom was sold exclusively through the official fan club in very small quantities. It quickly sold out and has become the holy grail of Air Supply merchandise.

'Once Upon A Time' CD - Korea

       Sony Music released a compilation CD in Korea and Taiwan called ‘Once Upon A Time,’ which contained 18 songs from Air Supply’s first three albums. The CD was essentially a time capsule of Air Supply’s early career, with an emphasis on the 1977 U.S. album ‘Love and Other Bruises.’ Unlike most budget conscious CD compilations that contained few or no liner notes, ‘Once Upon A Time’ included a 16-page collector’s booklet with lyrics and never-before seen photos of the band. The CD was housed inside a flashy slipcase designed to resemble a book. ‘Once Upon A Time’ was mostly confined to Asia for several years, until online commerce allowed fans from around the world to discover it. The uniqueness of this CD makes it a popular item with collectors of Air Supply music.

       One of the highlights for Air Supply in 1996 was a tour of Australia in June and July. It was Graham and Russell’s first major tour of Australia in 17 years, and they were not sure how the Australian fans would respond after such a long absence. Before the release of ‘Now and Forever Greatest Hits Live,’ Australia essentially ignored Air Supply’s new material. Radio refused to play any of their recent albums. Fortunately, the tour was a success with a 90% sellout of all 12 shows. Guy Allison returned to play keyboards/piano on the Australian tour because Jed Moss was not available.

       The Australian concerts were a big hit with the fans, but not with the local music critics, who had a long history of bashing Air Supply:
       Air Supply’s performance was a truly bizarre experience. Most of the show was like a cross between Meatloaf and Andrew Lloyd Weber, all overblown rock theatrics, pomp and bombast. Any of the Hilton crowd expecting an evening of gently reflection, a nostalgia act pumping coins into the jukebox of its greatest hits, received a rude shock. Air Supply were like the Spinal Tap of love ballads. Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, augmented by bass, drums, pianoforte and electric cello, declined to play some of the better-known material, opting for more recent, heavier songs from albums that went unreleased or largely ignored in Australia.

       It was one of those ‘we’re still artists’ gestures that seemed out of place on the Hilton circuit. When they did bring out the hits, many were dealt with heavy-handedly, devoid of their original sweetness. Hitchcock, his voice in fine shape, did his best to charm the audience, but within two songs, his partner Russell was telling us how to behave, calling for the crowd to clap louder, scowling with disapproval as he did so, as if we were all ungrateful children who didn’t deserve to be visited by his talents. Later in the show, having repeated this trick a few times (as well as throwing in a couple of blatantly Messianic poses and patronizingly suggesting that we might not be able to understand his lyrics), he moved to the front of the stage and aggressively gestured for everyone to get to their feet and clap. Now there’s an idea: BYO standing ovation. It was not a complete washout. By the end of the evening, they were in more successful territory with a simple version of ‘Unchained Melody’ and a restrained ‘Here I Am,’ which showcased their attractive voices and melodic skills, but it was too little, too late. - Jon Casimir, The Sydney Morning Herald

Graham and Russell with Winnie Lau copy - 副本.jpg
Winnie Lau - 'Love Is Gone' 1996

       Air Supply’s success in Asia allowed them to take advantage of a recent surge in sales of multi-artist hit single compilation CDs in the region. Having a song included on a successful compilation CD could fetch a significant royalty cheque for a band. The first volume of the EMI/Polygram ‘Now’ series sold more than 2 million units in Asia alone, doubling the volume previously reached by a compilation album. BMG and Warner Music were eager to join in on this potential and released an international hits package titled ‘Max.’ Among the acts included are Air Supply, Take That, TLC, and Simply Red. Air Supply appeared frequently on American hit compilations in the early 80s, but the popularity of this format faded in North America. “Compilations here [in Asia] have never had that cheap element to it that they may have had in the States: shoddy packaging, songs cut short and stuff like that,” said David Bland of BMG Asia Pacific. Kathleen Tan of Warner Music agreed, and felt it was important for artists to realize that appearing on a compilation CD could do wonders for their wallet. “A lot of our artists,” she said, “don’t immediately recognize the value of compilations. Negotiations can take time, but compilations can really drive sales, and everybody can have a piece of the pie.” Air Supply, who were rarely opposed to releasing their own compilations, were featured on several Asian multi-artist compilations in the late 90s.

       Air Supply’s desire to work with Asian artists was realized when Graham wrote and produced a song for Hong Kong singer Winnie Lau. ‘Would You Ever Walk Away’ was a duet between Air Supply and Lau, and was included on Lau’s BMG/Elite album ‘Love Is Gone.’ Winnie Lau was by no means considered a music star in Asia at the time, having released just one previous album, but she was a successful and popular film actress in China. ‘Would You Ever Walk Away’ was released as a single in parts of Asia, and in November it hit #1 in Hong Kong.

India Concert Bryan Adams.jpg
(Right) Bryan Adams, Russell, Robert Plant, Graham - Nov 30, 1996

       Channel [V] India, the relatively new music television brand, hosted the Indian Music Awards show on November 30 in Mumbai. The ambitious outdoor event took place at the Andheri Sports Complex, with an estimated crowd of 6,000. The award show featured performances from local Indian acts and several international musicians such as Bryan Adams and Led Zeppelin. Air Supply was one of the main attractions. They performed ‘Now and Forever’ and ‘All Out Of Love’ before a packed house. At the time, Air Supply was the biggest international seller in South Asia, which was home to a third of the world’s population. “I think it’s great that they are hosting this show live on the net,” said Graham. “I don’t really know much about Indian artists, but I hear it is picking up. We still have to see a lot of the country and we are going to do that someday. India is a really cool place to be.” Led Zeppelin and Queen received lifetime achievement honours, while Air Supply won the Channel [V] Chosen One award. The crowd went through the roof when the Australian duo received their award and announced that they would be back in India in January for a performance. The entire event was broadcast on television the following day, and was considered a success despite some technical glitches that delayed the show for almost two hours. “No one has brought this amount of talent to the stage here before,” said Channel [V] India GM Jules Fuller. “Television is such a new medium here: there’s no infrastructure to pull something like this off. Still, we only pulled in five people from the States and England. We bit off a huge chunk. Probably in retrospect we should have done it smaller this year, but it worked really well in the end.”

Greatest hits 1995 special edition.JPG
Repackaged CD - Oct. 2002

       In December, Air Supply completed a 13-day Christmas-inspired tour across Canada. About half way through each concert, children from the audience were brought on stage and Air Supply performed songs from their 1987 Christmas album, including ‘White Christmas,’ ‘Silent Night,’ ‘The Christmas Song’ and ‘The Eyes Of A Child.’ According to Graham, this was the first time Air Supply had played holiday songs live in concert. The concert at Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg included a contingent of WSO (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra) performers, which added an elegant underlay to the five-member band.   

       Air Supply had a brief rest over Christmas, before heading to Asia in 1997 for concerts in India, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam. 1996 was another year of extensive touring around the world and at home in the U.S. Overall, it was a great twelve months for the band, thanks largely to the success of the ‘Greatest Hits Live’ project. The ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ CD was a big seller for many years. By popular demand, the CD was repackaged in 2002 as a limited edition. The CD, titled ‘Greatest Hits Live in ‘95,’ was designed entirely by Jodi Russell, and included her own photography taken during the 1995 Asian tour. It was sold exclusively through the fan club and at live shows, and included the same 12 tracks to the North American release of ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever.’


hitchcock 发表于 2013-3-28 11:05
译文: <转载请注明空气补给中文网>
      1995年1月,新专辑即将完成,Air Supply准备开始全美巡演。他们的演出相当简约时尚,从三人乐队渐渐到如今的无人阵容。演出被注明为不插电为了庆祝他们的成军20周年,就像他们1990年那样。这个不插电的演出中有一个钢琴上的烛台相当引人注目, “演出的感觉很纯粹。” Russell说。“我们发现经典的歌曲就是那么的经典。”

  巡演乐队阵容现在包括了鼓手Mark Williams,贝斯手Cliff Rehrig,钢琴Guy Allison或者Hans Zermuehlen。“我希望这支乐队能够和我们永远在一起合作,因为这有一种家的感觉。” Graham说。“我知道这些话有点多余,但这是真的。不仅仅因为他们是很棒的音乐家,更因为他们能够了解Russell和我心中所想的。他们也和别人合作,所以他们在音乐上的造诣很高。” Air Supply在演唱会上演唱了几首新专辑中的歌曲,希望在3月能够在大多数国家发行。“我们到现在已经演出了4,5场,都是免费得。” Russell说,“我们演唱了大多数人们熟悉的歌,他们也希望我们能够演唱一些新专辑中的歌曲。这是一张听觉上很棒的专辑,但是这是一张值得去好好聆听的专辑。”

      Air Supply在全美巡演上使用了入耳监听器,为了消除地面监听。新的科技使得能够相对更容易的在舞台上移动。但是更重要的是,他们降低了表演者的应变。“我们有了这个特别的改变,这样我们就能在舞台上听到自己的声音了。” Russell形容道,“这是一项新科技,有点不太习惯。像一块泡沫塑料一样的东西粘在你的耳朵里,像sony walkman随身听一样。而对我来说最大的问题确是听不到外面真实的声音了,但是我们在演唱会上做的很多事情都依靠和现场听众互动。所以我不得不在每首歌结束的时候把一个耳机拿掉,这样我才能听到外面的声音,然而再戴上去唱下一首歌。这东西的确强力推荐,因为它可以保护你的嗓子和耳朵,你可以不用在台上唱了太响。真是一个保护人的好东西。”

      3月15日,Air Supply被文化部邀请在中国演出6场,北京,上海,广州各两场。90分钟的演出被电视播出,但仅仅在中国内部播放。Air Supply的排行榜金曲在中国非常走红。为了这次Air Supply的巡演,演唱会组织者向赞助商和广告商收取了480万人民币。  

      Air Supply是第二支登录中国的澳大利亚乐队。澳大利亚摇滚乐队在酒吧中做了一次简短的演出。他们在北京为澳航拍摄宣传片。其他被中国政府邀请前来演出的西方乐队有Paula Abdul,John Denver,Paul Simon,Wham! 和 BB King。其他一些主流艺人如Madonna尝试来中国演出,不过被当局拒绝了。

      就在Air Supply来中国演出的前一周,瑞典流行乐队Roxette在北京开演唱会。把Roxette带到中国首都来演出花费了超过一年时间来安排,中国政府在点头同意前看了他们的许多演出视频。SheRock是第一支被邀请来中国演出和录音的美国乐队。组合在上海,黄州和广州在12万5千名观众前演出了16场。SheRock的主唱Edie Robertson说为了这次访问组合做了许多调整。“我们不得不修改了我们的演出服装和一些歌词。例如,我们不得不把 ‘freedom(自由)’ 改成 ‘friendship(友谊)’ 因为前者具有明显的叛逆的含义。”   

      在中国的演出预示着西方流行音乐有着越来越多的商业吸引力。Air Supply对于利用这个广大的市场有着良好的定位,尽管共产主义政府有着严格的规则。当我们第一次去那里演出的时候,我们只能在挡板前演唱,” Graham说,“你必须带上所有的歌词和舞台上穿的衣服,还有你要唱的歌。许多军官坐在半圆形的桌子后面,而你则是接受面试的人。他们笔直地坐在那里,带着各种军功章,他们不停地打断询问各种问题。但是你在上台演唱之前必须要通过这些测试。”  我们以前从来没有去过那里,我们在中国的唯一的曝光可能只是在电视盒杂志上, 但是在我们表演第一首歌的时候,人们就接近疯狂了。”

      “在北京的演唱会我们在篮球馆内演出了好几个晚上。” Russell说,“我们被警告过,因为在演出时我们通常都会走进观众群,但是他们说我们不能进观众群,否则他们会中断演出。一开始的两个晚上我们没有走进观众,但第三个晚上,我们不管那么多了,冲进人去,那些穿绿色军装的军人立刻冲了过来,但是一切都晚了。” Air Supply在中国的巡演是压倒性的成功,所有6场演出都全部售完。考虑到北京的演出场地每个都可以容纳2万名观众,这真是一个不可思议的成就。另外,乐队在演出前并不清楚他们会在这个国家的观众面前得到什么样的反响。“观众们知道每首歌的歌词。” Russell说。“这让你觉得很温馨。”

      Air Supply在亚洲和南美的巨大的流行度意味着Graham和Russell几乎没有什么时间用在在他们个人计划上。Graham的罗宾汉摇滚歌剧被无限期搁置了。他知道在许多罗宾汉电影上映之后她得计划变得异常艰难,包括影星凯文斯科特纳在1991年的电影和Mel Brooks的喜剧Robin Hood: Men In Tights。Graham把标题曲 ‘The Heart of the Rose’加进了Air Supply的新专辑中。“我在1988年写了这首歌。” Graham说,“这是一个对生命本质的冥想,对我来说有着一些特别的意义。希望这首歌能够打动大家。”  

       就在那个时期,Russell选择切除他的扁桃体。“我切除了我的扁桃体,这对我来说非常痛苦。” Russell说。“这花了我很长时间在心理上克服它,但是在手术前,喉部感染带给我太多的麻烦了,我不得不取消演出和一些别的什么日程。在在你成年后做扁桃体切除真是一个很大的困难。尤其是当你40多岁了。自从手术后,我变得越来越好。我克服了心理上的障碍做了手术,我觉得我现在唱的声音比以前更好了。有时候我听我们早期的录音,我并不喜欢那时我的声线。有时候我希望我能有像Joe Cocker 或者Rod Stewart这样的声音。但是我没有,很纠结。”  

        专辑 ‘News From Nowhere’ 在3月28日发行,伴随着首支单曲 ‘Someone’。专辑在北美的宣传不多,所以许多Air Supply歌迷很惊讶在零售店的新片栏里突然发现这张CD。缺少Giant Records的宣传可能也预示着这个厂牌对这个乐队失去了信心,认为他们在北美没有太多影响力了。在Giant内部同时也有着一些矛盾,厂牌的运营受到了威胁。无论如何,‘Someone’ 在北美,东南亚和南美作为单曲发行了,在Billboard成人流行榜上拿到第60位。电台对于这首歌的反应相当冷淡尽管Billboard杂志给予了正面的评价:
  在80年代获奖无数的澳洲双人组合回归流行乐竞争行列击败了Peter Gabriel的 'In Your Eyes’ 。他们两人依旧有很棒的男高音爆发力。- Billboard

         BMG International在亚洲队这张专辑宣传很强烈,并且乐队在1995年有着大计划。4月在菲律宾宣传的时候,一些带着 ‘News From Nowhere’来的观众可以免费参加演唱会。1994年末,Clive Gardiner和Air Supply开始计划在亚洲发行卡拉ok音乐带。这个计划是BMG karaoke entertainment计划的一部分,一个名叫Karao ke Gold的厂牌建立发行原声卡拉ok音乐带。Clive是建立在香港的BMG Entertainment亚太分部影像部的首脑,他计划发行基于现场演唱会的20首歌的卡拉ok。

          以LD为中心的多格式影像物品。整个LD概念可能在北美市场有混淆,因为这种格式仅仅在小众的爱好者中流行,其图像质量高于VHS和BETA。但在那些亚洲富裕的地区如日本,新加坡,马来西亚和香港,LD是流行的家庭录像带的载体。事实上,LD在香港是最流行的租赁盘。Gardiner深知其中的潜力,1992年Bee Gees的卡拉ok专辑相当成功,卖出了2万500份拷贝,同时只是用了过时的录像载体。BMG预测Air Supply的卡拉ok LD碟可能会卖到5万份,而Air Supply’s Greatest Hits CD可能会达到60万张的销量。这个计划同样提供给Giant Records一个利用Air Supply黄金80年代的良机。因为这张CD将会是现场演唱会录音,Giant可以在北美发行这个专辑,包括了Arista拥有的早期金曲,无需支付版税。BMG International被授权使用Arista录音因为这种合作关系他们很早就已经建立起来了,他们已经在美国之外发行了数个早期Arista时期的Air Supply歌曲合辑。

        Air Supply在4月上旬回到菲律宾,作一次为期6天的 ‘News From Nowhere’专辑宣传巡演。这次旅行是长达5个星期的亚洲电台电视宣传以及演唱会的一部分,为了支持新发行得专辑。这次宣传巡演是之后5,6月份,长达5星期的东南亚巡演的序曲。在采访中,Graham告诉记者 ‘News From Nowhere’ 是他写过的最个人的专辑。他写了专辑11首歌中的10首,其中一些触碰到了我生命中灵性的一面。“和我之前的写的有所不同。” Graham说。“在这张专辑中有一些灵性,假如你听了足够认真,你会体会到其中的含义。我们经历了不少东西, 这张专辑可能是一种让我们了解我们所经历的方式。我不认为 [歌曲的创作] 有所改变,但是我看待这些歌的视角却有所改变。在早期的时候,我通常就是心中所想的歌曲就这么写成了。而现在我必须在完成歌曲之前进行更多的思考。歌词现在对我来说更加重要了,过去我的词通常不是那么重要。”

      ‘Just Between the Lines’ 专辑 ‘News From Nowhere’ 中的歌曲,Graham在70年代写成,歌词内容不太容易理解。“这是Russell和我过去在超级明星时候经常唱的一首歌。” Graham说,“我在我父亲的地下室里发现的。他住在Tweed Heads,他正在整理我的那些垃圾,找到了许多过去的录音包含了这首歌。在录制 ‘News From Nowhere’ 的时候我对Russell唱了这首歌,他说我们应该录这首歌。对于很多人来说,这是专辑中的最爱,但这首歌不可能成为一支单曲,因为它太深奥了。歌词的确不太容易懂,但是我能理解。” Graham和Guy Allison一起写了一首歌 ‘Can’t Stop The Rain’。 “ Graham和我在演出后的巴士上写成了这首歌。” Guy说。这是我第一次不直接在稿纸上写歌。“ 尽管不是一支单曲,但这首歌是这张专辑里我心中的最佳歌曲。Graham和 Russell的声音都很令人难忘。”

       回到美国后,Graham和Russell为单曲‘Always’ 拍摄了一支音乐录影带,乐队翻唱了Righteous Brothers’的 ‘Unchained Melody’。这两首都有巨大的潜力把Air Supply带进美国排行榜,‘Unchained Melody’ 是应歌迷要求放入专辑中的。” Russell说。“那是放进专辑的唯一原因。不想听上去那么自负,我想我们制造了一首‘Air Supply’的歌。”  Graham觉得Air Supply录制这首歌的原因是因为需要 “把这首歌重新介绍给新的一代。”特别是他搭档那美妙独特的声音。  尽管这首歌几乎是世界上被翻唱最多的歌曲,Air Supply坚信他们的版本是最棒的,尽管不够摇滚但依旧会成功。  “我不想去唱。”Graham说,“因为几乎每个人甚至他们的狗都会唱。但是我同意翻唱是因为真的很想去唱。我想他应该去唱,作为世界上最棒的歌手之一,伟大的歌手应该唱那些伟大的歌曲。这是这首歌最棒的版本之一。这首歌在亚洲是我们的金曲。”

      5月,Air Supply开始在亚洲举行为期5周的巡演,名叫 ‘Air Supply Always World Tour’。巡演同时新单曲 ‘Always’ 发布,很快在菲律宾,台湾和香港的排行榜上迅速爬升。同时也在北美发行,但是没能上排行榜。‘News From Nowhere’ 在台湾成为销量第一的专辑,证明了Air Supply能够在美国之外成功。 “事实上,我们对自己相当骄傲。” Russell说。“对于我们来说,美国市场已经相当渺小了。”

     Air Supply在菲律宾的流行度持续增长,由于公众强烈要求, 他们在马尼拉新加了一场演出。6月15-16日。到亚洲巡演结束,Air Supply在台湾演出的两场演唱会都被BMG/Giant录制成卡拉ok和现场演唱会CD,准备在11月或者12月发行。演唱会交响乐由林美莹和Mark Williams指挥。“在录像中,可以看到Mark指挥弦乐队的场面,我不知道他还能做这个。” Russell说。“我认识这个家伙已经3,4年了,我一直认为他只是个鼓手!”  

      台湾BMG Music为Air Supply举办了一次大的派对,庆祝他们成军20周年,外加在 ‘News From Nowhere’ 专辑在台湾销售16万份拷贝。乐队经纪人Barry Siegel,也参加了这次派对。“由于种种原因我们非常希望这次能够来到台北。” Graham说。“首先,我们在这里有许多朋友,因为我们14年前就已经来过这里了。第二,我们的专辑卖得很好,这要感谢BMG。”

      8月25日,第三次北美歌迷俱乐部大会举行,并且在纽约雪城State Fair Grounds举办了两场免费演唱会。Air Supply演出了两场1小时的演出,曲目包括了他们最流行的歌曲和一些新专辑 ‘News From Nowhere’ 中的歌。乐队成员包括了Cliff Rehrig,Mark Williams和Hans Zermuehlen。在第二场演出之后,乐迷召集会在Syracuse酒店举行,歌迷们在进入会场后都会收到一份礼物。其中一份礼物是一盒单曲卡带,包含了一首未发行的歌曲 ‘The Way I Feel’ 。“这是我在台湾的时候写的。” Graham说。“我还有另两首新歌准备发行。我觉得两首都很棒。Guy Allison很久以前在3月份或者4月份的时候弹过这个曲子,我录了下来。Guy 一直在摆弄着他的钢琴,当我听到这个曲子的时候我让他再弹一遍。我改了一下这首歌的调,10分钟之内就写成了。我觉得这首歌很像Beatles的风格,或者听起来很像John Lennon,这总是能够让我很兴奋。” 在场歌迷能够有幸目睹这张还3个月前在台湾录制的未发行的现场演唱会录像。歌迷俱乐部计划做出重大改组,Simon Russell出任新的俱乐部主席。

      Russell再次冒险尝试个人事业,他和美国女歌手Rita Coolidge合唱一曲。歌曲 ‘Is It You’ 被收录在1995年Rita的专辑 ‘Behind The Memories’ ,但是从来没有作为单曲发行。直到多年后,互联网开始流行,才被Air Supply的歌迷们注意,那些很难搜寻的歌都借助互联网被找到。

      1995年几乎没什么Air Supply的合辑被发行,因为他们的唱片公司比较专注乐队的新专辑而不是那些老歌上。为了帮助专辑 ‘News From Nowhere’ 在台湾的宣传,BMG,Arista和Giant合力发行了一张宣传CD名叫 ‘Air Supply - Gold Hits & New Songs Sampler’。CD包含了两首新单曲 ‘Always’ 和 ‘Unchained Melody’ 。加上18首1980年到1993年间的歌曲。因为这张CD是宣传品,并没有大规模发行,所以收藏价值很高。

      11月11日,BMG Entertainment在印度首都孟买举行了一次派对,冒险和Crescendo Music合作。Crescendo是孟买当地的公司,从小规模渐渐发展起来成为印度音乐和娱乐界最重要的成员之一。Crescendo是Air Supply在印度的官方发行商,和BMG的联合使得他们成为了一家跨国公司。‘News From Nowhere’ 于8月在印度发行,考虑到Air Supply并没有在那里做过宣传,显得销量出色。事实上,Air Supply在他们的20年生涯中从来没有在印度演出和做过宣传。

       Graham和Russell前往孟买作了一次2天的访问,尽管交通状况和电力状况不佳,但是依旧被印度所吸引到了 。“人们能够理解我们的音乐,对我们很热情。” Russell说。“就在我们抵达机场时,所有人都是那么的热情,友善。事实上,我们在过去几年里做过很多尝试为了在这里演出。” Russell解释道,“但是总是因为天气或者是政治的原因导致演出取消。但是我们的确很早就想要来这里演出了。”   

        BMG-Crescendo启动派对成为了一次Air Supply和其他艺人签约的一次宣传活动。活动仅仅对受邀者开放,并且超过1千名孟买精英参加,内容覆盖了音乐,电影,时尚和媒体界。BMG-Crescendo 安排了许多艺人参加演出,包括了印度乐队Indus Creed,Mehnaz和Anaida,还有澳大利亚流行歌手Merril Bainbridge。由于晚上的活动,Russell和Graham成为了亚洲巨星。戴着耳环和两件式套装,他们唱了5首金曲,惊呆了听众。“我们的表演很自然。” Russell说,“我们被那些东西迷住了 - 手鼓,印度乐器 - 心想为什么不呢? 一切都是临时的,没有任何彩排,只是把那些歌都混在一起。” Air Supply的表演成为了整晚的焦点,观众们一直在鼓掌和跟着一起唱。”

       Russell和Graham并不清楚印度观众对他们到底有多少反响,因为他们根本不知道在那个国家他们的唱片卖掉多少。“我们不知道销量多少。” Graham解释道,“但是我们推测相当不错,否则他们不会强烈要求我们来这里演出的。他们期待我们的销量大幅增长。我认为因为我们已经成立20年了,世界上大多国家的人都会认识我们。那么多年后,能够第一次来到这里感觉真的很棒。” “我们太惊讶了。” Russell说。“人们在台下叫着我们的歌曲。对于我们来说,可能有一些不起眼。能听到这些真的很棒,因为这意味着他们很认真的听我们的歌,因为那些歌曲不算是金曲。” 在回到美国之前,Air Supply和Crescendo一起商讨了在印度的未来的巡演,可能会在2月份举行。

       正当Air Supply准备南美巡演的时候,他们得知Guy Allison准备离开乐队加入Doobie Brothers。很快Graham在犹他一家音乐店里打听,问是否有键盘手愿意加入巡演阵容。店主Skip Daynes给Graham推荐了当地的键盘手Jed Moss。 Graham邀请Jed去他犹他的家里,Jed为自己做了一个简短的介绍。并没有什么正式的面试,Graham问他在去南美前是否有兴趣去洛杉矶排练一星期。Jed很高兴接受了这个邀请,但却怀疑自己是否能够负担得起这次旅行。

        “Air Supply正准备前往南美参加巡演。” Jed说。“Graham告诉Skip,他正在找一名受过古典训练的钢琴手。那时我正在Daynes音乐点里上班,正在一台准备出售的9英尺大的斯坦威钢琴前,那是Graham的。Graham给了我一打CD,问我是否可以学会这些歌。事实上,我告诉了我在洛杉矶的一个朋友,因为他们可能会发现我只是个冒牌货,会把我打发回家。“我们排练了4天,在加利福尼亚千橡表演了一场。” Jed说。“我们下一场演唱会在秘鲁利马。我对这些家伙很感激。因为我一开始什么都不知道,他们教我所需要的东西。我告诉我的父母,他们都听过Air Supply的歌,只是他们不知道Air Supply是组合的名字。所以我告诉我妈妈我正在这个组合里表演,然后她开始和她所有的朋友吹嘘他的儿子正在 ‘空气质量’ 乐队里表演。她告诉他们这个乐队有至少10首金曲,可是任何人的反应都是 ‘我从来没听说过那个乐队!’”

       11月下旬,BMG在亚洲,南美和澳大利亚发行了三个特别的Air Supply产品。第一个是一张现场演唱会CD,名叫 ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live’。第二个是一张卡拉ok,LD/VHS双格式发行产品,名叫 ‘Now and Forever Karaoke’。第三个是LD/VHS 音乐录影带特别产品名叫 ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live’。这个计划是Clive Gardiner,BMG 和 Giant Records超过一年辛苦制作出的结果。

       “有20首歌包含进了这个长格式影像,并且15首歌包含进CD。” Graham说。“我们无法把所有金曲都放金曲,因为这完全不止15首。所以我们仔细考虑,希望曲目能够展现我们音乐历程,从最初到现在。这个项目是多格式的:CD-ROM,卡拉ok,LD,和其他三个格式。这是具有里程碑意义的,我想一定能够大卖。发行日期是11月30日,全球同步发行,除了美国和欧洲,那些地方要到1996年2月份才会发售。”  

       现场演唱会CD中包含两首新歌, ‘The Way I Feel’ 和一首重唱1982年的歌曲 ‘Now and Forever’。‘The Way I Feel’ 在亚洲部分国家作为单曲发行,在中国和台湾也是排名冠军。“这首歌在很多国家都是一首大热金曲。” Graham说。“这首歌的高潮部分很特别。我很爱这个。”  ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits’ CD 席卷亚洲音乐排行榜,特别是在香港,专辑榜排名第一长达15周。在澳大利亚,专辑在Kent Music Report榜上排名第60位,而对于之前三张Giant/BMG的Air Supply专辑在澳大利亚的完全失败来说,这已经是个不小的成就了。

      ‘Now and Forever Karaoke’ 和 ‘Now and Forever - Greatest Hits Live’ Laserdisc/VHS videos 卖的相当好,KTV里强力主打支持,一个在新加坡的卫星电视频道对CD和视频不断播放。另外,BMG,Warner,和其他的一些唱片厂牌购买了STAR TV’s music station Channel [V]中50%的股权,为Air Supply新发行的东西作宣传。MTV拒绝播放Air Supply的录影带,但是对于乐队来说,在国际电视上播放有了新的转机。“这是我们一直在等待的。” BMG市场部副总裁Stuart Rubin说。“这对电视市场也是一样的。Air Supply从一开始就很友好,因为他们的旋律和歌词和适合亚洲人的口味,他们喜欢情感丰富的情歌。”

       卡拉ok的视频部分取自在台湾的两场演唱会,并且包含了5支Air Supply宣传MV。“这种形式事实上在西方艺人里已经被忽略了。” Clive Gardiner说。“好像他们认为卡拉ok显得太外行了。‘Now and Forever Karaoke’ 是亚洲歌迷展示自己的歌唱潜力的最好方式。” Russell说, 对卡拉ok和live CD印象很深,他们和当地BMG旗下的歌手考虑未来的合作,比如香港流行歌手刘小慧。 “ 我们都爱亚洲! ” Russell称,“我们爱着那种可能性,意味着可以和中国歌手合作。”

       第三支单曲 ‘Unchained Melody’ 由BMG/Gian在亚洲和南美洲发行,在那些地区表现相当出色。播放率显著,特别是在卡拉ok店里异常流行。Giant Records在美国也发行了这支单曲,但没怎么被关注。这首歌成为了歌迷的最爱。

       1995年行将结束,Russell 和 Graham回想那么多年一路走过,“为了能够再次成功,你不得不坚定信念一同克服困难。” Russell说。“很难相信已经20年了。我做梦都没想过我们会在一起那么多年。我有一个7岁的小女儿。” “人们会问我们怎么才能这样,好问题。” Graham说。“这就像是一个梦,就像我们一觉睡了20年。当我想起澳大利亚和那些开始时候的岁月,我觉得时间也过的没有那么快。”

       随着一年内发行了两张专辑,他们的国际知名度空前的高涨,Air Supply计划在1996年放慢脚步。“我们准备在第二年进行巡演,我们想看看接下去会发生什么。” Graham说,“这可能是我们做新专辑前的一个空闲的一年。我们需要一些时间来重新计划。我们已经有了20或者30首歌准备放在新专辑里。而现在,我们想要看看歌迷对greatest hits live collection反响如何。直到1997年我想我们都不会有新专辑发行。我不想要歌迷们对我们厌倦!我同样想做电影专辑。虽然没人邀请过我,但是我很愿意做。”

       1996开始自美国巡演,包括阿拉斯加的演出。在美国的那些小演出场地允许Air Supply有更亲密的表演。这其中也包括了重唱乐队经典和不插电演出。“我们在美国的场地比别的国家小很多,所以我们不得不缩小规模以适应观众。” Graham说,“这是我们在一起的第20个年头。所以我们不可能一直演唱经典歌曲。当然,即使灯光有所不同,观众们依旧对我们熟识。”

       Graham趁着这个时候在美国犹他他的家中的顶楼建造起了录音室。这个32轨的家庭录音室对于Air Supply来说是重要的一步,因为这给他们控制录音上的程序来说是很棒的,让他们更少得依靠Giant Records,此时Giant唱片公司已经不愿意在乐队上投入更多了。“这无疑给了我们更多的自由。” Graham说。“我不在乎花钱。这样我可以以我的方式来工作。” 洛杉矶是Air Supply很多年以来最主要的录音基地,但大多乐队成员都住在犹他。所以这样集中录音程序是理所应当的。再者,Graham现在能够更舒服得来制作他自己风格的音乐,希望能够在未来给别的乐队制作专辑。对于新的录音室,Graham 和 Jodi 购置了1000英亩土地,打算建立一个野生动物保护区。“我们爱这里的一切。” Graham说,“我不认为我们可以买下这里别的地方。”

       Giant Records于2月份在欧洲和北美发行了 ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ 。这张CD在亚洲是个巨大的成功,很快就卖出了超过50万份拷贝,成为香港1996年第二热卖专辑。只有Celine Dion和他的 ‘Falling Into You’ 专辑排在Air Supply前列。这张Giant 唱片公司的CD包含另一个唱片版本,相比之前发行的15首歌的BMG international的版本,这次仅仅包含了12首歌。“10年来我们一直被要求录制一张现场演唱会专辑。” Graham说,“我们从来没有做过。因为这是我们的20周年,是时候了。” ‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ 是自从1983年多白金专辑 ‘Greatest Hits’ 以来的第一张在北美发行的合辑,尽管没有电台的支持,专辑却卖的出奇的好。

       Air Supply歌迷俱乐部在1996年做了一次重大的变动。俱乐部组织者Cindy和Simon Russell 提供了一份新的终身制会员产品,包括了一份欢迎礼品组合,里面有Air Supply收藏品和一份所有演唱会的后台通行证。俱乐部在加利福尼亚的贝弗利山进行日常运营。

       Air Supply在1996年比其他的乐队更早的在网上开始运营官方网站。一开始网站看起来相当原始,和那时大多数网站类似,只要歌迷们可以上网,网站提供了很多的乐队信息,包括演唱会日期和新的纪念品宣传。在线购物虽然已经流行很多年了,但是Air Supply的纪念品却只能通过打电话或者写信给官方歌迷俱乐部订购。这个网站那时对Air Supply的歌迷来说异常重要,因为这是和歌迷交流的一个重要平台,特别因为乐队在北美的流行度剧减 。

      新版歌迷俱乐部开始出售 ‘Now and Forever’ karaoke/video计划中的最后一样物品,这是一张名叫 ‘As Close As This...’ 的多媒体光盘,一份进入Air Supply音乐世界的互动旅程。Clive Gardiner 和Rosemary Tan制作了这份高度创新的CD光盘,运行光盘需要当时相当强大的电脑。这张CD包含了50分钟长的独家视频片段,一首新歌 ‘Mother Said’ ,Air Supply私密日记,琐事,报刊文章媒体库和许多从未发表过的照片。这个计划带给歌迷窥探Graham 和 Russell平日生活的机会。“我希望你们会喜欢这个旅程,让你们更了解我们。” Russell说,“因为我们想展现的不仅是我们的表演,还有我们的生活。过去的20年对我们来说是不可思议的。我们在澳大利亚的开始,第一次到美国和亚洲的经历,我们的成功,还有别的许许多多事情都能在这里找到。” 这份CD-ROM由BMG International Asia Pacific 和 Giant Records制造发行。在北美,这张CD-ROM在官方歌迷俱乐部独家销售,数量相当稀少。很快都被售完,成为Air Supply收藏品中的圣杯。

      Sony Music在韩国和台湾发行了一张名叫 ‘Once Upon A Time’的合辑,包含了Air Supply最早三张专辑中的18首歌。这张CD成为了Air Supply早期生涯的一个缩影,重点放在1977的美国专辑 ‘Love and Other Bruises’上。不像大多数小成本CD合辑那样节省, ‘Once Upon A Time’ 包含了16页的歌本,附带歌词和一些乐队从没有发表过的照片。这张CD的设计类似一本精美装订的书。‘Once Upon A Time’ 很多年来都局限在亚洲发行,直到电子商务的出现,才允许世界各地的歌迷找到这张专辑。这张独特的CD成为Air Supply收藏品中的热门物品。

       Air Supply在1996年的闪亮时刻之一是于7月份在澳大利亚的巡演。这是Graham 和 Russell17年来第一次在澳大利亚的重大巡演,他们完全不知道澳大利亚歌迷会不会在他们离开那么久以后给予他们什么样的反应。在发行 ‘Now and Forever Greatest Hits Live’ 之前,澳大利亚基本上都忽略了任何Air Supply的新专辑。电台拒绝播放任何他们的新专辑。幸运的是,这次巡演相当成功,12场演出中的90%的票都被售完。由于Jed Moss的缺席,Guy Allison回来演奏键盘/钢琴。

      澳大利亚巡演对于歌迷来说是个大事件,但是对当地的乐评人来说并不是如此,他们是这样抨击Air Supply的:
      Air Supply的演出是个奇特的体验。大多数歌听上去像是在Meatloaf 和Andrew Lloyd Weber之间游走,all overblown rock theatrics, pomp and bombast. Any of the Hilton crowd expecting an evening of gently reflection, a nostalgia act pumping coins into the jukebox of its greatest hits, received a rude shock. Air Supply were like the Spinal Tap of love ballads. Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, augmented by bass, drums, pianoforte and electric cello, declined to play some of the better-known material, opting for more recent, heavier songs from albums that went unreleased or largely ignored in Australia.

       It was one of those ‘we’re still artists’ gestures that seemed out of place on the Hilton circuit. When they did bring out the hits, many were dealt with heavy-handedly, devoid of their original sweetness. Hitchcock, his voice in fine shape, did his best to charm the audience, but within two songs, his partner Russell was telling us how to behave, calling for the crowd to clap louder, scowling with disapproval as he did so, as if we were all ungrateful children who didn’t deserve to be visited by his talents. Later in the show, having repeated this trick a few times (as well as throwing in a couple of blatantly Messianic poses and patronizingly suggesting that we might not be able to understand his lyrics), he moved to the front of the stage and aggressively gestured for everyone to get to their feet and clap. Now there’s an idea: BYO standing ovation. It was not a complete washout. By the end of the evening, they were in more successful territory with a simple version of ‘Unchained Melody’ and a restrained ‘Here I Am,’ which showcased their attractive voices and melodic skills, but it was too little, too late. - Jon Casimir, The Sydney Morning Herald

       Air Supply在亚洲的成功允许他们利用迅速增长的销量来发行艺人歌曲合辑CD。在成功的合辑中收录进一首歌可以让乐队收取版税。EMI/Polygram的 ‘Now’ 系列一单单在亚洲就卖出了200万张。BMG 和 Warner 希望能够加入这个潜在的商机,并且发行了一张国际金曲合辑 ‘Max’。其中艺人包括了Air Supply,Take That,TLC和Simply Red。Air Supply在80年代早期频繁出现在美国金曲合辑中,但这种形式的专辑在北美流行度衰退。“这样的合辑在亚洲完全不想在美国那样低劣:伪劣包装,歌曲剪切等。” BMG亚太区的David Bland说。华纳音乐的Kathleen Tan也同意,认为这对艺人来说是相当重要的。“很多我们旗下的艺人,” 她说,“都没有立刻意识到合辑的价值。合辑的确能够驱动销量,每个人都能从中分一杯羹。” Air Supply,几乎从不反对发行自己的合辑,在90年代末,也包含在许多亚洲多艺人合辑中。

       Air Supply渴望和亚洲艺人合作,Graham写了一首歌并且和香港歌手刘小慧合作演唱 ‘Would You Ever Walk Away’ ,收录在BMG/Elite发行的刘小慧的专辑 ‘Love Is Gone’ 中。刘小慧在当时绝不是亚洲歌坛明星,之前仅仅发行过一张专辑,但是却是中国成功的电影明星。‘Would You Ever Walk Away’ 在部分亚洲国家作为单曲发行,在11月成为香港排行榜冠军。

       印度Channel [V] ,这个相对年轻的音乐电视品牌于11月30日在孟买主办了印度音乐大奖盛会。这个雄心壮志的户外盛会在Andheri 体育中心举行,估计观众人数达到6000人。这个盛会的表演嘉宾邀请到了许多印度歌星和一些国际巨星,如Bryan Adams和Led Zeppelin。Air Supply也是其中焦点之一 。他们在拥挤的人群前表演了 ‘Now and Forever’ 和 ‘All Out Of Love’ 。那时,Air Supply是南亚最知名的国际巨星,占世界人口的3分之1。“我觉得真的很棒。” Graham说,“我真的不太认识这些印度艺人。我们依然有许多国家没有去过,终有一天会成行。印度真是一个将去的好地方。” Led Zeppelin 和 Queen收到了终身成就奖,同时Air Supply也获得了Channel [V] 的一个奖项。当这个澳大利亚双人组合获奖并宣布他们在1月份回来演出时,屋顶上的人群沸腾了。整个盛会第二天在广播和电视上播出,尽管由于技术故障,演出被耽搁了2个小时,这个大会依旧被认为是成功的。“之前从没有那么多棒的明星一起在这个舞台上。” 印度Channel [V] 总经理 Jules Fuller说,“电视在这里是个新新媒体:之前没什么能够想现在这样。我们依然从美国和英格兰请来了5个人。现在想想我们今年应该做的更小,但是最终还是相当的棒。”

       12月,Air Supply结束了加拿大为期13天的圣诞演出。在演出半路时候,小孩们从台下被带到了台上,Air Supply演唱了1987年圣诞专辑中的歌曲,包括了 ‘White Christmas’,‘Silent Night’ ,‘The Christmas Song’ 和 ‘The Eyes Of A Child’。按照Graham的说法,这是Air Supply第一次在演唱会上演唱节日歌曲。演出地在温尼伯百年音乐厅,包括了WSO (温尼伯交响乐团)的乐手加入到了乐队中。

       Air Supply在圣诞节期间作了休息,接下来准备在1997年前往亚洲多地演出,包括印度,香港,吉隆坡和越南。1996又是密集世界巡演的一年。总体来说,这对乐队来说很棒,感谢大范围成功的 ‘Greatest Hits Live’ 计划。‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’ CD许多年以来一直都是销量巨大的。由于巨大的需求量,这张CD在2002年重新包装,作为限量版发行。CD名为 ‘Greatest Hits Live in ‘95’ ,由Jodi Russell设计,包含了许多她拍摄的1995年亚洲巡演期间的照片。在歌迷俱乐部和演唱会上出售,包括了12首歌,和北美销售的‘Greatest Hits Live... Now and Forever’相同。
Leign 发表于 2013-4-3 19:58
hitchcock 发表于 2013-4-3 20:07
Leign 发表于 2013-4-3 19:58

Greatest Hits Live是我的第一张Air Supply正版CD,也是我的最爱!要集齐Greatest Hits Live计划中的所有物品的确有些许难度,特别是那些Cassette之类的。

russellper 发表于 2013-4-9 15:09
感觉从news from nowhere开始,air supply的音乐有了较为明显的变化,更多的突破,更多的思考。
hitchcock 发表于 2013-4-9 15:20
russellper 发表于 2013-4-9 15:09
感觉从news from nowhere开始,air supply的音乐有了较为明显的变化,更多的突破,更多的思考。

Leign 发表于 2013-4-20 15:38
hitchcock 发表于 2013-4-3 20:07
Greatest Hits Live是我的第一张Air Supply正版CD,也是我的最爱!要集齐Greatest Hits Live计划中的所 ...

hitchcock 发表于 2015-2-7 16:55

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