It’s time for another round of my “That 70’s Guy’s – Retro Review”, where I uncover a relatively unknown hidden gem from the 1970’s that had a significant impact on my insane music addiction that I have had for over 50 years. I like to give my take on the record and what it meant to me and my buddies growing up in the moment. This month’s edition is “Trillion” – their self-titled debut from 1978.
TRILLION – Bio
Trillion were born from the streets of Chicago and led by a young Dennis (Fergie) Frederiksen on vocals. Fellow Chicago musicians Patrick Leonard on keyboards, Bill Wilkins on drums, Frank Barbalace on guitar and Ron Anaman on bass/vocals rounded out this new prog/rock quintet. Trillion was quickly signed by Epic Records and went to work on their first album produced by Gary Lyons who had just put together Foreigner‘s debut album as well.
Back in 1977, the first of our gang of friends went off to college. This time it was my cousin Rick. He enrolled in Fanshawe College in London (a whole hour away)! Every so often, we would venture down and stay the weekend with him and partake in some of those dorm parties. One weekend, we went and saw Styx on their Crystal Ball tour (and Tommy Shaw’s first) at the University of Western Alumni Hall with Moxy. But that’s another story.
However, this particular time we went down, Rick (who could get clean FM reception from 100.7 WMMS Cleveland across Lake Erie) kept telling us about this song called “Give Me Your Money Honey”. My buddy Rod also said he was picking it up as well. So we would have a few pops and listen to the radio waiting to hear songs not played on Canadian stations due to the CRTC Canadian content law. This is how we were introduced to Trillion for the first time. Every time I listen to this CD, my mind wanders back to those good old days away from home in the big town of London Ontario.
It wasn’t long before I held the record as my own. It was so cool to search it out and find that three headed snow tiger on the cover. I still think it’s a great cover! But what about the songs? Let’s give it a spin and remember!
TRILLION – Trillion (Released 1978 on Epic Records)
- Hold Out – an awesome start, as we kick into one of the album highlights. From the opening drums and plucking bass to head first into a first rate rocker. An amazing sing-along chorus, with Fergie in top form. A sweet solo from Frank, dotted with keys make for a great start!
- Big Boy – continuing straight into this one, the boys keep the momentum going. Oozing with melodic vocals and harmonies. True 70’s magic dripping with keys galore.
- Gimme Your Money Honey – like I said above, this is where it all started for me. A radio friendly gem with a catchy as hell chorus. Don’t get this one stuck in your head!
- Never Had It So Good – don’t let the mellow start with fabulous vocals from Fergie fool you. Incoming – an amazing riff and another chorus that makes you scream out. Super guitar solo here is one of the best on the album. Another ripping guitar outro! A masterpiece – how could this not be huge?
- May As Well Good – even after those four gems, this one might be my fave! The heavy rocker of the bunch. Crank it up! Sing the chorus aloud.
- Fancy Action – Side 2 almost comes across as another album. Fergie shows off his various ranges as well as the various harmonies. There’s a hint of Disco in this one, as most bands dabbled in it back then. In fact, it is about disco dancing. Very poppy, but very catchy and almost rolls off my tongue after all these years.
- Hand It To the Wind – back to Trillion with their majestic high powered choruses and melodies. Nice drums from Mr. Wilkins on this one. Great song! The outro vocals here are still goose bump worthy. This could be on any Angel, Piper, Mariah or Prism record at the time. Almost anthem status.
- Bright Night Lights – Ron Anaman and Patrick Leonard shine on this, as bass and keyboards set the backbone of a song that almost mirrors their Chicago cross town rivals Styx. I can hear early Dennis DeYoung in here, with a nice acoustic fade out.
- Child Upon the Earth – the ending anthem of the record. Musically composed perfectly, with everyone getting their chance to shine here. A nice touch to round out a wonderful experience! Cheers!
And there you have it, a wonderful slab of 70’s arena rock that sits right alongside the likes of Styx, Boston, Kansas and newcomers Journey (who by the way were discovered at the same time on the same Cleveland station). It was simple guitar and keyboard driven music, with melodies that were radio friendly and easy on the ears. Keep in mind music like this was a treat to find as we were coming into what would be known as the disco invasion! A solid release with that can be enjoyed from side to side without lifting the needle except to turn it over.
But like a lot of bands you have to wonder what went wrong. After all they had hooked up on tour with the likes of Heart and Aerosmith as well as Styx. But after 1 album Frederiksen was out and after the 2nd release in 1980 “Clear Approach” Trillion were all but a memory. It’s such a shame because this album really is a true gem of its time.
Of course Fergie, considered one of the great melodic voices went on to fame with Toto, Le Roux, Mecca and many solo and side projects before passing in 2014 at the age of 62.
I still play this CD regularly and consider it a special piece of my life from a great time in my life. If I’m packing up and heading to that island this one is tucked away at the front. Maybe one album was meant to be, because when I think of listening to Trillion, I don’t have to decide, I just grab this one and enjoy! It is also easy to recommend, and I recommend giving it a spin.
“Life’s a journey
And things go wrong
Chart your course and feel love’s song
The tune of life sings to you” (“May As Well Go” – Trillion (1978))