It's high time to get into your car and up to ParkWest: balladeer extraordinaire Billy Ocean will bring his string of chart-topping hits to Utah Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
While Billy's albums have never been overwhelming commercial successes, most of his singles have an uncanny knack for going to the top. His recent single "Get Outta My Dreams (and Into My Car)" went to No. 1, following the pattern set by "Caribbean Queen" and "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)."Other high-ranking singles include "Loverboy" (2), "Suddenly" (4), "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (2), "Love Zone" (10), "Love Is Forever" (16) and "Mystery Lady" (24).
Also on the bill will be Brenda Russell, a sensational singer-songwriter on tour in support of her new album, "Get Here," a critically acclaimed work that marks her return to the A&M Records label.
Russell began her solo career in 1979 with the "Brenda Russell" LP that featured the single "So Good, So Right." Since then, she has released four other albums acclaimed for their energetic dance beats and emotional ballads.
Her reputation as a songwriter is renowned through the recording industry. Russell's songs have been covered by Donna Summer; Earth, Wind & Fire; Anne Murray; Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross, among others. And she has collaborated with other songwriters like Michael McDonald, Melissa Manchester and David Foster.
Her current LP, with the single "Piano in the Dark," has received rave reviews for Russell's "unostentatious vocal style," "Ultra romantic laments" and her infectious "pop-soul strut."
* REGGAE SUPERSTAR Jimmy Cliff will bring his hypnotic brand of social consciousness to the Triad Center at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11. Also appearing will be David Lindley and El Ray O-X.
Cliff is riding high with his new album "Hanging Fire," his fourth for Columbia Records (it's the third collaboration between Cliff and Kool's House of Music in West Orange, N.J.).
The new album's roots go back to 1986, when Cliff and his band teamed with Steve Winwood for a U.S. tour. The tour eventually took Cliff to Africa for performances in the Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Zaire and the island of Reunion.
Afterwards he spent time jamming with bands from Zaire and taking what he called an overdue working holiday in other parts of Africa. That tour established Cliff as a favorite on the native African music scene.
Cliff began recording a new album in the Congo with the new Grand Zico Band of Zaire, combining his Jamaican roots with traditional African sounds. The result was the single "Love Me, Love Me," a song about universal love, family and brotherhood.
* TEEN POP sensation Debbie Gibson will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 12 in the Jon Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus.
Gibson, who was only 16 years old when she released her first single, "Only in My Dreams," in 1987, is being heralded as the future of pop music. Despite her apparent inexperience, her debut album, "Out of the Blue" (Atlantic), contains 10 original compositions.
Since its release, the album has been lodged comfortably towards the top of the Billboard charts, logging one single after another.
A child prodigy, Gibson has been writing music since age 5. At 13 she began playing, arranging, engineering and producing her own music. Over the next three years she recorded demos of more than 100 of her own songs, using her own home studio.
As one critic gushed, "Watch out Whitney, Madonna, Belinda and the Bangles. Debbie Gibson is waiting in the wings."
* ALSO AUG. 12, the legendary punk band the Circle Jerks will play the Speedway Cafe.
The band formed in 1979 when ex-Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and former Red Kross guitarist Greg Hetson packed it in with their respective bands and made an immediate splash on the L.A. club scene. Their rise to prominence was documented in the film "The Rise and Fall of Western Civilization."
After three albums, the band made another film appearance, this time in the cult classic "Repo Man." Since then, the band has settled on a lineup that includes Morris, Hetson, drummer Keith Clark and bassist Chris Poland (Megadeath).
The band has just released its fifth album, entitled "VI," on Combat Records.
"Yes, we know it's a bit odd to call a fifth album `VI,' but the boys have been on the road an awful lot and perhaps they were a bit confused themselves," a publicist notes.
The Circle Jerks are noted for mixing humor with intelligent satire and commentary, powerful rock with concise ideas.