WILD BLUE Guitar Pick, MIKE circa 1980s, authentic concert pick, JINX
Wild Blue grew out of a Chicago group called Jinx that toiled in the local club scene beginning in the late 1970’s. The core members of this band were Joe Zanona (keyboards), Terry Curtin (bass guitar), and Frank Barbalace (guitars). They had been looking for a female vocalist, and they found one in Renee Varo; Mike Neff was also added as the drummer. A few years later though, they got a dreaded call: There was a cabaret singer from California who had been using the name Jinx for some 15 years. They tried to work out a deal with her, but to no avail, so they started calling themselves Wild Blue. Thus, the name of their first LP, No More Jinx is basically an inside joke.
The band had already been signed to a two-album deal with Chrysalis Records, and they began laying down the tracks for their first album in 1985. Chrysalis caused unnecessary friction in the band, however, by flying Renee Varo and Joe Zanona over to London to record half of the album with other studio musicians. (They were also the only two bandmembers to make the front cover). About this time, Terry Curtin and Mike Neff quit; they were replaced by Mike Gorman (bass) and Ken Harck (drums), two members of a late 1970’s Chicago power-pop band called Off Broadway (Mike Neff had also been in that band). Also, Chrysalis decided that they wanted to try to find a new name for the band – they had liked Jinx, but not Wild Blue – and they delayed the release of the album until early 1986, leaving the band in limbo for several months. By October 1985, it had been over a year since their last live date.
Frank Barbalace is also a member of a well-regarded progressive-rock band (also from Chicago) called Trillion. I won’t say anything more about that for now, because they will likely be a future UARB before the end of the year.
Anyway, Frank Barbalace is ambitiously advertising on his website a two-CD collection of most of his recorded works – Wild Blue, Trillion and other material, including some that he did with who I gather is his wife Rebecca Barbalace in a band called Ondavon – for a $50 tab. Oddly, there are only three tracks from the No More Jinx album that are listed. He was one of the bandmembers who was left behind when most of the recording was done across the pond; and these are the songs that he co-wrote, though he also played guitar on one of the best songs on the album, “Fire with Fire”.
But what is interesting about this offer is that this is the only reference on the Internet that I have been able to find of a second album by Wild Blue called Primitive Prayer. Primitive Prayer is evidently the new name of the band as well, since the name Wild Blue had been dropped according to several newspaper and magazine articles about the “upcoming album”, and it was to come out on a different label called Pasha Records. Besides these various articles though – and there were quite a few of them, which tells me that Wild Blue had a lot of fans, at least in the Chicago area – I could find nothing else about the album other than what is available on his website. Whether the album was actually released or not is unknown to me.