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Biographies: Y & T

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Reviewer: Iluvthe80s

&T were within reach of the Grail of rock and roll stardom many times in their long career. Unfortunately for the group, the ultimate prize always seemed to elude them in the end due to a series of mistakes and sheer bad luck. A legendary live band, the group never managed to translate their electric on-stage intensity into the studio, and despite their 20 years of service, they have now become little more than a blot on the American hard rock canvas.

Taking their name from a Beatles album, Yesterday and Today formed in San Francisco around 1973 with Dave Meniketti on vocals and lead guitar, Phil Kennemore on bass and Leonard Haze on drums. After stealing rhythm guitarist Joey Alves from a rival band, the foursome began to gig constantly around the Bay Area, opening for such heavyweights as Journey and the Doobie Brothers. They were eventually picked up by London Records, which released their eponymous debut in 1976 and followed it with Struck Down two years later. Neither album ended up being successful though, and after being dropped from the label, the band spent another two years struggling to stay alive.

Their perseverance finally paid off in early 1981, when they inked a long-term deal with A&M Records and shortened their name to Y&T in the process. Earthshaker, their first album for the label came out later that year and was a resounding success, earning the band a number of high-profile opening slots with AC/DC and Kiss. The group's newfound success culminated in a performance at the prestigious Monsters of Rock festival in Donington, England. An optimistic Y&T returned to England the following year to begin work on Earthshaker’s follow-up, Black Tiger. But despite its strong material, the record was let down by an uncharacteristically lifeless production job from veteran Chris Tzangarides and failed to meet the lofty expectations of both media and their label.

Inexplicably, the group re-united with Tsangarides for 1983’s Meanstreak, obtaining equally disappointing results despite scoring a decent international hit with “Midnight in Tokyo.” Subsequent releases such as In Rock We Trust (1984) and Down for the Count (1985) fared no better, and by the time they found redemption with the blistering power of their first live set, Open Fire, the band had been forgotten and surpassed by an entire generation of younger bands. The band's association with A&M finally came to an end later that year and was effectively buried with the obligatory greatest hits set, Best of '81-'85.

Y&T wasn’t ready to give up yet, though. Signed to Geffen by A&R guru David Kalodner — best known for resurrecting the career of Aerosmith — the group decided to re-vamp their image in order to fit into the late '80s hair band scene. Sadly, this image overhaul included the premature ejection of Haze in favor of the infinitely cuter yet equally competent Jimmy DeGrasso prior to 1987's Contagious. The album bombed, and a disgusted Alves would soon follow Haze into retirement, only to be replaced by a Stef Burns for 1998's equally disastrous Ten. Thankfully, Meniketti and Kennemore also decided to call it quits soon after, and Yesterday and Today Live, taken from the band's farewell gig, provided the appropriate send off. And while the final line-up would re-convene for 1995's Musically Incorrect and 1997's Endangered Species, continued indifference from consumers would make it a short-lived reunion. After the break-up, drummer DeGrasso went on to an extended journeyman career with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth while Meniketti issued his first solo album, On the Blues Side, in 1999. — Ed Rivadavia

SOURCE: All Music Guide

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