Straight From the Heart – Lost Kenny MacLean Album Released For The First Time

The Young Kenny MacLean.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute

His heartfelt music must still have been playing in his ears, as Kenny MacLean was stricken with a fatal heart attack mere hours after a surprise reunion show with former Platinum Blonde front man Mark Holmes, in November 2008. The show was intended as an album release party for MacLean’s newest solo effort, Completely, with Holmes' guest appearance resulting in the pair and backing band ripping through a selection of Platinum Blonde hits. The crowd went bananas, MacLean and Holmes hugged it out and Kenny went home for the final time.

If Holmes was face and voice of the multi-platinum selling Platinum Blonde, MacLean was its heart and soul. The Glasgow-born MacLean broke into the Canuck music scene as a member of pop group The Hairdressers, then became a founding member of The Suspects in 1979. After a name change to The Deserters in 1981, the band released two well-received albums, The Deserters and Siberian Nightlife.

Kenny was initally recruited for the glam rock project that became Platinum Blonde by drummer Chris Steffler, the pair having worked together in other bands, most notably The Suspects. MacLean brought huge skills as a keyboard player, bassist and songwriter to the band and his affable stage presence contributed greatly to the Blondes’ popularity.

The group’s 1985 album, Alien Shores, was a massive seller as was the followup, Contact, to both of which MacLean contributed songs. The band hit the wall at full speed on Yeah, Yeah, Yeah in 1990 and a year later, Platinum Blonde was all done.

The split sent the two principals, Holmes and MacLean, in totally different directions. Holmes initally dabbled with solo material and did some DJing but eventually opened the hugely successful night spot, The Mod Club, which became his creative focus.

Kenny LiveKenny LiveMacLean on the other hand, was fully commited to launching a solo career and set about writing a whack of very new and different material. Which is exactly where the project became problematic. The songs which Kenny showed up at his record company’s office carrying sounded nothing like Platinum Blonde. In attempting to make a clean break and establish his own brand, he’d come up with a batch of tunes best described by one of the song titles, “Don’t Look Back”.

If he’d delivered a porn album, the record company couldn’t have been more surprised. Instead, MacLean’s collection of downtempo, introspective and in places deeply moving songs left them cold. It was feared that not only would the album fail to find an audience, but its too ‘spiritual’ songs would run the risk of aleniating MacLean’s fan base from the Platinum Blonde days. The company refused to release the album, known as “Don’t Look Back” and the event maked the end of the relationship.

MacLean then released two solo albums in the 1990s, without the backing of major-label financing. In 1990, his solo debut “Don't Look Back” was released on a new label, Justin, and it won him A SOCAN Award for songwriting and a Juno nomination for Most Promising Male Vocalist in 1991.

His second solo album was the release of Clear in 1996 which had limited success with two singles "In Pieces and "Nothings Forever".  Late 1999 and into the early 2000 years, Kenny teamed up with his long time friend, Michael Barlow (known as Spike in the industry).  They co-wrote a couple of songs together and co-produced the album "Straight From The Heart".  MacLean’s move into a more spiritual plane in his songs alienated him totally from the record companies and he was unable to find record support to release his new album.

MacLean had a huge influence in getting the band back together after a 20-year absence, but he wouldn't live to see it come to fruition. MacLean had commented to Platinum Blonde's lead singer Mark Holmes and told anyone he knew that the time was ripe for a Platinum Blonde reunion, joking that it needed to be done as “Music doesn't have any rock stars anymore.”

It was not to be and, like a cowboy who goes out with his boots on, MacLean died steps away from his recording gear and having just celebrated the release of his best solo album, Completely.

As a memorial to Kenny MacLean, on this fifth anniversary of his passing, the MacLean family is making available free of charge the Straight From The Heart album in its entirety, exclusively promoted here on Cashbox Canada (links below). Tales of the ‘missing’ MacLean album have circulated for years and the fans will be most interested in hearing this material, as very little of it has appeared on line.

For the uninitiated, song titles like “I Thank You”, “Saving The World” and “Straight From the Heart” are strong indicators of the direction MacLean was taking with the album. While the strong Nineties production style make it a period piece, the ideas and lyrics find echoes in contemporary ‘spiritual’ acts like Jack Johnson and James Blake.

For your free download of Kenny Maclean last CD log on to: www.straightfromtheheartcd.com

For the video log on to: http://youtu.be/8JmqFKDZVBE

So kick back, check out this long lost album and let us know your feelings in the Comments box below.