GOLDMINE: Congratulations on Only Time Will Tell. This is a collection of songs and guests, which I think will take the listeners back to the 1980s sound, where I first heard your work on the Staying Alive soundtrack, with Frank Stallone’s Top 10 hit “Far from Over.”
VINCE DICOLA: That is the song that really started my career. I met Frank Stallone in a bar, and we worked in clubs in the L.A. area for a while. At some point his brother, Sylvester Stallone, came in and told us about this new movie he was writing and directing, and he asked Frank to write some songs to be submitted. We recorded five songs and it turned out that Sylvester hated all five. We thought that was a missed opportunity. It was Frank’s great idea to give it one more shot and that turned into “Far from Over,” which changed everything. We got to a point where Sly took in all the other songs he originally rejected, so we ended up with six songs in the movie, and “Far from Over” ended up being a Top 10 hit for a couple weeks.
GM: The flip side of the single, which is not on the soundtrack album, is “Waking Up,” another one that I really enjoy.
VD: That was the seventh song which Frank and I wrote together, one of my favorites. I hadn’t heard it in so long, until now. I have it on cassette and my cassettes are so old that I rarely play them.
Flip side: Waking Up
A side: Far from Over
Top 100 debut: July 30, 1983
Peak position: No. 10
RSO 815 023-7
GM: I remember when my wife Donna and I saw the film. It was a treat, as it was the first time for us going to a movie theater since our daughter Brianna was born two months prior. I was thrilled to check out this Saturday Night Fever sequel, because it was Donna who had suggested us seeing that film when we were dating and she bought me the soundtrack at the brand new Peaches Records & Tapes store that had just opened, encouraging me to apply, which led to a very fun time in my life. Staying Alive gave us our first exposure to Cynthia Rhodes, who I later enjoyed with Animotion, singing “Room to Move,” and Donna and I have watched so many times over the years in Dirty Dancing. I really like her duet with Frank, “I’m Never Gonna Give You Up,” which ends the soundtrack album, and was released as a single, but never charted, unfortunately.
VD: I don’t know why that song didn’t chart because it was a really important song in the movie. I had a really good experience in the studio when we recorded “I’m Never Gonna Give You Up.” Cynthia came and sat on the piano bench right next to me. She is so sweet. It was a great experience for me to have the artist who would be singing the song sitting right next to me, working out the parts.
GM: Another exciting movie song from that era is “Hearts on Fire” by John Cafferty from Rocky IV, with its catchy and melodic chorus.
VD: Thank you. We took chances on the Rocky IV score. “Hearts on Fire” has some complex progressive rock influences and we were able to create that and have people react very positively, which was encouraging to me. Anytime that I can insert progressive rock sounds into my material and have people enjoy it, it is very gratifying.
GM: Listening now to the instrumentals “War” and “Training Montage” from the Rocky IV soundtrack, I hear quite a bit of that sound on your new album Only Time Will Tell.
VD: Thank you for making that connection. Some of these songs were written back in the same time period. The song “Only Time Will Tell” has Steve Walsh, from Kansas, singing lead, and he really put his stamp on it. I was very fortunate to work with him.
GM: He certainly delivers the catchy chorus on “Broken Glass” so well.
VD: Steve wrote that one with two other people for a band named Streets. He brought the song to me and asked me to rearrange and reproduce it, letting me have free reign, and we are both happy on how it turned out.
GM: He is also on the finale, “Suffer the Children,” with the message of “the future is in their tiny hands.” I also enjoy the sound effects with the child’s voice.
VD: In my opinion, that is the crown jewel on this new album. That part in the middle of the song, where you hear the voice, is actually my daughter Danielle, around when she was a one year to one-and-a-half years old, in the mid-1980s. She is our first child and our second daughter, Jessica, was born in 1993.
GM: I think I just heard another family member in the background on today’s call.
VD: Ha ha. That is our dog Layla, a sixteen-year-old mixture of German shepherd and dachshund, if you can believe that. She is such a sweet dog in the final stages of her life, here with me and my wife Beth, in the empty nest syndrome, now that our daughters moved out.
GM: Us too. Donna and I are with our senior dog Ringo, a mix of chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier. Back to our daughters, Brianna and I saw the band Chicago here in Florida in 2013. Around the middle of the show most of the band took a break, the curtain was shut, and only Jason Scheff came out in front of the curtain with his keyboard, who sat there and performed “Look Away” from Chicago 19. That intimate performance was one of Brianna’s favorite moments of the night. Hearing Jason with you on “Miracles” reminded me of that show. I like the theme, too, asking, “Are there any miracles left for me?” and, “Are there any miracles left in me?” This is my favorite song on the new album, and is so Chicago-like.
VD: That is great to hear. I co-wrote that with Roger Voudouris, who I dedicate this album to, has since passed away, and was one of my favorite lyricists. That is one which I think would be perfect for a Rocky film, a Karate Kid film, or any movie like that. Roger wrote a great lyric, and I was lucky to get Jason, who I had played in clubs with, and I had Chicago in mind when writing this song. He recorded it so quickly and so well. I am so pleased to have him on this record.
GM: In 2017, I interviewed Bobby Kimball from Toto, and compared some of his new songs to Jason Scheff-era Chicago. Bobby’s powerful voice fits very well on your new record with “Stay/Exit Wound.” He is so unique.
VD: Yes, he is so unique and such a sweet guy. He brought “Stay” to me and said that it was one that he wished he would have recorded with Toto, but for some reason it never made it to any of their albums. I was touched by the fact that he respected my playing enough to make it piano and vocal only. We recorded that song in just one take. He just sang his butt off and I just love it.
GM: You mentioned your dog Layla before. I thought about the song “Layla,” with its two part approach, when I first heard your piano piece “Exit Wound” back to back with “Stay,” reminding me of the “Layla” song structure.
VD: The inspiration for that was the Chicago ballad “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” with “Get Away” immediately following on their album. I intended to add more instruments to the second part, but Khalil Turk, from Escape Music, said that doing it with Bobby in one take was so special, that he suggested to leave it alone.
GM: I was born in Ohio in 1958, like Mark Boals, who joins you on “Living in a Daydream,” with a touch of a Who rock opera sound.
VD: We were looking for Mark for another band that I am in called Thread, sort of a progressive rock trio with myself, drummer Doane Perry from Jethro Tull, and Ellis Hall from Tower of Power. I thought Mark was only a heavy metal singer, but then he sent me a demo, saying that heavy metal was just one side of his vocal style. We got along well. For his audition with Thread, I wrote the music for “Living in a Daydream,” and Mark wrote the words and sang the song. It never made it on to the Thread record, but it was always a favorite of mine.
GM: Thinking again about 1980s film music, I am reminded of the song “St. Elmo’s Fire” when I listen to “No Risk, No Glory.”
VD: It does have a familiar sound. When I play it live, people ask, “Where have I heard that before?” I am so happy to include this song, finally, on a record, and I still hold out hope that it will find a home in some television show or movie. Bob Reynolds sings this one. I met Bob through my partner Kenny Meriedeth, who I have been working with for over thirty years. I am so knocked out with Bob’s range, grit, and overall soulful feeling. I love his voice.
GM: Talking about voices, well, there is you, too. I think you sound great on the power ballad “I’m Not in Love for Nothing.”
VD: Thank you. That is one of my favorite songs. I put so much love into that track. I don’t consider myself to be a professional vocalist. I usually sing guide vocals for other singers to come in and sing the final version. This was the only song that I have felt good about my lead and background vocals. I thought it was special enough to include in this collection. I am so happy that Khalil agreed. I owe a lot to him for this album and even more so, I owe a lot to Beth, for moving out west in 1981, from our home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with me to take a chance on music, which is not the most stable business. I remember writing songs for Rocky IV from our apartment before we bought our home here and had our daughters. I owe so much for her love and support. I am honored to have Jason, Bobby, Steve and the others on this album, and thank you for your interest. I appreciate all the questions and preparation you have made for this Goldmine interview article. Thank you so much.
Vince DiCola, facebook