• New

The LA Cowboys - Endless Summer (CD)

Reference: 00900

new & sealed jewel case CD
release date & first day of shipping: June 16th, 2024
Pride & Joy Music Classixx Vol. 10
Limited to 300 units
Label: Pride & Joy Music


The LA Cowboys ‘Endless Summer’ Liner Notes

‘Endless Summer’ is one of the early 90’s most under-rated Westcoast / AOR albums, despite its high quality. This is because this album was released only in Japan, with little promotion. The album was originally released on March 31st,1993 for Insideout, a sub label of Toshiba EMI (EMI Music, Japan). This followed the single “Something In My Heart”, which was released on November 18th, 1992. The single was released as the main theme for the Japanese television biographical drama “Red Thunder”, which was the life story of Kinue Hitomi. Hitomi was the first Japanese female Olympic Medalist who won the sliver medal in the 800m run at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games. 3 years later, she lost her life from tuberculosis. 

The LA Cowboys are comprised of James Studer and Wayne Nelson. When Endless Summer was released, Japanese Westcoast / AOR fans did not pay much attention to the album because of misleading promotion by the label, which I will detail later. There were no music websites in those days, thus Westcoast / AOR music lovers in Europe or the United States had no way of knowing about this album. The album was already out of print by the time people started to talk about it. When it was reissued by AOR Heaven in 1998 in a limited 1000 copies, it did not take a long before the warehouse became empty.

James ‘Little Joe’ Studer was raised in California and Hawaii. He moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and gradually found his way into the LA music scene. James got a chance to participate in the studio recording session for Jim Messina’s first solo album entitled “Oasis” (1979). This is where he met his long time friend and LA Cowboy partner, Wayne Nelson, who also participated in the Messina recording. James showed his musical talent not only as a keyboard player but also as a background vocalist on the album. It is quite natural that he was also invited to the sessions for the album “Messina” (1982). In the early 80’s, James worked with Al Jarreau as his musical director, and you can listen to this effort on Al Jarreau’s acclaimed live recording album “Live In London” (1984). It should be added that he also recorded and performed with other giants including David Sanborn, Kenny Loggins, Thom Rotella, Mike Love (of the Beach Boys),  Kalapana, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole  and many more. Since 1997, James has been concentrating his efforts on composing for American television.

Wayne ‘Rowdy’ Nelson, born in Kansas City, Missouri, is best-known as the bass player and lead vocalist of the Little River Band. In the late 70’s he moved to Los Angeles. While touring with Jim Messina, who was opening for the Little River Band, Wayne was invited to join LRB because George McArdle, bass player of LRB, decided to pursue a path as a minister, and left the band after finishing their U.S. tour in 1979. Wayne officially became a member of LRB in April of 1980. It was Wayne who dedicated his talent as a lead vocalist for LRB’s top 10 US single hit “Night Owls”, the first cut from the 1981 album “Time Exposure”. He then shared duties with Glenn Shorrock, the voice of LRB, on the next single “Take it Easy on Me”. Wayne has been keeping busy as a core member of LRB ever since, except between 1996 and 1999 when he was absent from the band.

In the late 80’s. while Wayne Nelson kept busy  with LRB, James Studer started to produce Mari Iijima, a young talented Japanese female singer/songwriter. They met while recording Mari’s album ‘Miss Lemon’ in 1988, and were married the following year. James co-produced Mari’s next 8 albums, which featured  first-call LA musicians including Joseph Williams, Jeff Porcaro, John Robinson, Michael Landau, Lenny Castro and LA Cowboy partner, Wayne Nelson. It was during this time that James and Wayne got a recording deal for their own project. Yes, this was “Endless Summer”.

What was the reason ‘Endless Summer’ was not reviewed well in Japan ? As some of you might know, in those days there were many compilation albums featuring Japanese pop songs covered by acclaimed Westcoast / AOR singers, including Joseph Williams, Tommy Funderburk, Bill Champlin, Jason Scheff, Peter Beckett and many more. The L.A. Cowboys “Endless Summer” was categorized as being in the same vein, because they covered 5 songs written and/or originally performed by Japanese artists. But it should be noted that the story lines and arrangements of the Japanese songs had been changed to fit the style of the LA Cowboys. Taking into account that “Something In My Heart” became available as a single CD before the album’s release, the album provided only 4 brand-new original songs, written by James Studer. However, that did not matter for true music-lovers all over the world (mostly in Europe) who were not familiar with Japanese pop songs. Thus, it took a few years for the the LA Cowboys album “Endless Summer” to gain the reputation as a Westcoast classic.

The album opens with “Tokyo Woman”, originally performed in 1989 by Japanese American female rock singer, Ann Lewis. The song was originally used for a Japanese noodle TV commercial and later, in 1995, was also used as the ending theme song for the Japanese animation “City Hunter”.

The second track, “Endless Summer”, the title song of the album was a Japanese smash hit single in 1986, originally performed by Carlos Toshiki & Omega Tribe.

“Aubree’s Melody”, a very beautiful ballad, can be said to be one of the best Japanese hidden gems. Originally written and performed in 1989 by EPO, one of the most talented Japanese female singer / songwriters, who released several albums for Virgin UK in late 80’s.

When you listen to the middle part of this album, you might notice that the atmosphere is different from the first three songs . “Say You Love Me” (written by Studer with George Hawkins Jr.), “Holding Back The Tears” (written by Studer with Karen Tobin), “Know Me By Heart” (written by Studer and Nelson) and “Eye Of The Storm” (written by Studer and Nelson), are the brand-new original LA Cowboys’ tunes. “Say You Love Me” reminds me of the good rocking 80’s LRB with a small flavor of TOTO. The melodic ballad “Holding Back The Tears” must be the highlight of this album. On the track “Know Me By Heart”, James and Wayne sing “Don’t Fall in Love with a Bad Guy” in Japanese, which added a kind of good accent to the tune.  And, when you listen to “Eye Of The Storm”, I wonder if you might recall Peter Beckett of “Player”.

“Walk Me On The Water” is known as “Beautiful Song”, written and performed by Mari Iijima in 1990 on her album ‘It’s A Love Thing”, which was produced by James Studer. In this sense, this is another interpretation of the song as the album producer.

“Terra” was written and originally performed in 1984, by Japanese male pop singer / songwriter, Masamichi Sugi, and was probably written for a TV commercial of a new sports drink named “Terra”.

Finally, the album closes with a very beautiful ballad “Something In My Heart”, written by Michiru Oshima, a well-known Japanese female composer, with lyrics by Michael McLean. You cannot ignore this song because of Joseph Williams great vocals. It’s one of the best performances by Joseph in the early 90’s before restarting his solo career after leaving TOTO.

Last but not least, the other great musicians involved in this hidden gem should be mentioned; Michael Thompson, Buzzy Feiten, Tris Imboden, Mick Fleetwood, George Hawkins Jr. and many others. I hope you will enjoy this reissued CD for years to come !

November, 2010

Takeshi Ito (aka TAKEITO),
Adult Contemporary Music In Japan



1 Tokyo Woman
2 Endless Summer
3 Aubree’s Melody
4 Say You Love Me
5 Holding Back The Tears
6 Know Me By Heart
7 Eye Of The Storm
8 Walk Me On The Water
9 Terra
10 Something In My Heart