Tony Scalzo | My Favorite Year

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My Favorite Year

by Tony Scalzo

First full-length solo album from the man who wrote and sang Fastball's hits The Way, Out Of My Head, and You're An Ocean.
Genre: Rock: Album Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Love Lost
2:38 album only
2. Regretfully
2:36 album only
3. Don't Let Anyone
3:27 album only
4. Halfway Girl
3:54 album only
5. Ziggy
3:40 album only
6. Reality
2:36 album only
7. Free World
3:25 album only
8. Looks Like I've Thrown It All Away
3:23 album only
9. Par for the Course
3:10 album only
10. Bed I Made
4:09 album only
11. Forever Girl
2:28 album only
12. Last Word
3:04 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Tony Scalzo shouldn’t need an introduction. He sold more than a million records with his band, Fastball; he wrote and sang their hits, “The Way,” “Out Of My Head,” and “You’re An Ocean.” His face was all over MTV and his voice inescapable on the radio. As a unit, Tony and his bandmates Joey Shuffield and Miles Zuniga received far more accolades and attention (including two Grammy nominations) than any of them enjoyed individually, but that just may change. Now, fifteen years after “The Way”––one of the 90’s catchiest and most durable hits––reached number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, Scalzo is releasing his first full-length solo album. “My Favorite Year” was produced and recorded by Stephen Belans in Austin, with Scalzo playing the majority of the instruments on the album and Belans playing drums.

In the time since they topped the charts, the original Fastball lineup stayed active touring and releasing albums. They still do. The band released a new single and was on the 90s-themed Under The Sun Summer Tour in 2013 with Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, The Gin Blossoms, and Vertical Horizon. But somewhere along the line Tony needed to make an album of his own without the democracy––messy and false as democracy can sometimes be––of being in a band.

While the majority of the songs on “My Favorite Year” were recently penned solely by Scalzo, others were older band collaborations left off of Fastball records because they couldn’t come to a consensus on how the they should be presented. “A couple of these songs were left in the grave and they needed to be pulled out into the light,” explains Tony. One of the highlights of “My Favorite Year,” a sometimes grinding, sometimes soaring journey about stacked odds and life’s choices, “Ziggy,” was a completely forgotten track now brought back to life. “I could do these songs even though they were co-written with Miles without him getting all up in my hair about how they should sound on a record. You know what? Now he wants to work up ‘Ziggy’ and put it in the Fastball set!” The remainder of the album includes co-writes with a few musical friends, including Britt Daniel from Spoon.

One of Scalzo’s strengths as a writer is his ability to draw us so deeply into the story of a song that it feels autobiographical. But Tony will be the first to tell you his songs are often fiction, and that the stories he presents grow out of the music itself. He draws lyrical inspiration from many sources. “It’s been told 10,000 times, but the storyline of ‘The Way’ came from a newspaper article and I made up my own details about the characters’ motivations and fates before I ever found out what really happened.” The songs on “My Favorite Year” are powerful enough to feel autobiographical yet translate to our own situations. “I have meaning in the lyrics,” admits Tony, “but it’s broken-glass meaning. If other people can see themselves in the reflections and feel like it applies to their own world, that’s great.”

The twelve songs clock in at a brisk 38 minutes and sound like the three-minute melodic rock we’ve come to expect from Scalzo. Tight, effective arrangements frame and propel his songs so that––while each song stands on its own––the collection feels like a true album, with continuity and a compelling arc. “Stephen and I focused on establishing a tone,” Scalzo relates. “That’s the common thread. It’s our two personalities running through the whole album. We’re the double helix, everything else is wrapped around it.”

Belans sees his point but deflects credit to Scalzo. “Tony usually had a vision of what he wanted, and he’s capable of playing anything, so I had him play it all––bass, guitars, piano, all the background vocals––until it took shape. They’re his songs, he usually knew what they needed.” At some point, though, a dash of a different color or another person’s paintbrush was necessary to totally flesh out the arrangements and let the songs reach their full potential. “So if we hit the wall between the two of us,” Belans continues, “we’d think about who would best bring something complementary to the fold. We’d ring ‘em up and bring ‘em in. It worked out great.”

Guitarists Billy Cassis (SoulHat, Ray Wylie Hubbard) and Jon Sanchez (Roky Erickson, Paraguay) contribute textures and signature lines that effectively cross-brace the framework Scalzo and Belans established. Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Ian McLagan (Small Faces, Faces, Rolling Stones) adds his classic Hammond organ to “Forever Girl.” Horns, a string section, harmonium, and additional background vocals round out the sound where needed.

“My Favorite Year” fields at once both a fresh and familiar feel. Mixer Joe Blaney (The Clash, Keith Richards, Prince, Modest Mouse, Soul Asylum, Beastie Boys) gets credit for its rich, huggingly warm sound. “Joe did an awesome job! He managed to pull out the earthy, more organic vibe that you find on records I love,” says Tony. “That’s why we went to him in the first place.”

The album took longer to complete than either Scalzo or Belans planned, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. “Sometimes I was on the road,” reasons Scalzo, “sometimes Stephen was. He had other projects going. We worked when we could.”

“Since Tony was the main engine, I realized early on that I couldn’t drive him into the ground,” Belans lets on. “We’d work for four, five, six hours a day, sometimes less. When we stopped being productive, we’d stop for the day. It was better to get great stuff flowing naturally while he was fresh rather than force out mediocre ideas just to be done. You don’t always have the luxury of working in that relaxed way, but it totally paid off this time. When we did get to work, we were extremely efficient.”

As the weeks turned into months, which turned into more than a year, one of Tony’s favorite movies came to mind. The show-biz send-up comedy, “My Favorite Year,” stars Peter O’Toole as a swashbuckling veteran movie star who entrusts a budding comedy writer to help him navigate the dangerous waters of reality to heroic success. The album draws its title from the film. Scalzo smiles and says, “If you look at the movie poster, I was never sure which one of us was Peter O’Toole’s character and which one was the other guy.”

“The poster may be ambiguous,” Belans says before a long pause punctuated by a chuckle, “but if you watch the movie, Tony is clearly Peter O’Toole.”



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