Sunday, July 12, 2009

Portrait of a forgotten pop rock band: Wild Blue

This spring, a friend of mine digitized an LP record I had from a 1980s Chicago pop rock band called Wild Blue.
Two decades ago they looked like they were on the brink of mainstream success. But it didn’t happen. Creative differences with their record label Chrysalis, a forced change in band members and other factors led to their demise. It’s a common story in the music business.
I probably saw the group half a dozen times playing local clubs in the Chicagoland area while in college. They put on a great live show. I really liked their pop-electronic-bluesy sound. The group started off as Jinx, but ran into trademark problems with another artist using that name. They switched to Wild Blue and came out with their only album, “No More Jinx,” in 1986. When that record failed to catch on, the group, or at least lead singer Renee Varo, reformed as Primitive Prayer. Then I lost track of them.
But thanks to the Internet, where no information is too trivial, I’ve been able to glean more information on what happened to the band.
Wild Blue guitarist Frank Barbalace reminisced about joining the predecessor band, Jinx, and what happened after signing a record deal on his Web site at
Chrysalis was only interested in lead singer Varo and keyboardist Joe Zanona. Varo had a voice and looks similar to Pat Benatar at the time. The label took Varo and Zanona to London to record half the record with hired guns. They then returned to the U.S. to record the rest in Los Angeles with Barbalace and a new drummer and a new bass player, says Barbalace, who also performed with a progressive rock group called Trillion. (A review of Wild Blue's debut album by the Chicago Sun-Times dated June 13, 1986, is available from HighBeam Research.)
Varo and Zanona have formed a new band called Love Kill Me, which has a MySpace music page. But it’s hard to tell from its Web site how active the group is. The group set up the page in April 2008, posted a few songs, but hasn’t updated the site recently. Based on the three songs Love Kill Me has posted, it appears the group is going for a grittier rock sound than Jinx/Wild Blue. The songs “LoveKillMe” and “This Empty Room” show the group has promise.
Keep on rockin’, guys.

Back cover of Wild Blue album “No More Jinx.” (See earlier post for front cover.)
Photo of Renee Varo from Love Kill Me

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