Off Broadway's "Stay In Time" 45 RPM single.
The power pop band Off Broadway was formed in 1977 in Oak Park, Illinois by Cliff Johnson (lead vocals), Rob Harding (guitar and backing vocals), John Ivan (guitar), John Pazdan (bass), and Ken Harck (drums, vocals). Cliff Johnson and John Pazdan were members of Pezband, another power pop band based in Oak Park. Pezband had been formed a few years earlier and enjoyed critical acclaim with such albums as “Pezband” (1977) and “Laughing in the Dark” (1978). Critical success did not translate to sales, however, and Johnson and Pazdan left to form Off Broadway. The band signed with Atlantic Records and released their first album, “On”, in 1979. The album also spawned their first single, “Stay In Time” b/w “Full Moon Turn My Head Around”. This is today’s featured single.
“Stay In Time” was Off Broadway’s biggest hits, and has all the earmarks of a great power pop song. Opening with a drum beat which is soon joined by Harding and Ivan’s guitars. Cliff Johnson’s vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, and are effective even when delivering such relatively lightweight sentiments as “[e]veryday when you turn away from your world boy/You’re ignoring your life an oh, what a shame boy”. The song has a relatively simple arrangement and a strong, catchy hook, as if the pop melodies of The Beatles have been wedded to the punchier rock of of the 1970s. “Stay In Time” was definitely Off Broadway’s moment in the sun, and peaked on the Billboard singles chart at #51.
The B-side of the single, is a more up-tempo rocker, and one of the stronger songs from their excellent debut album “On”. The lyrics aren’t any more ponderous than those of “Stay In Time” (with lines like “[w]hen I’m edgy and I feel a little crazy and I’m going wrong/Should I take a drink or should I try to think about a simple song”), but the overall the song packs more energy than the A-side, the perfect antidote to those who would dismiss the band as Cheap Trick-lite. While this song is not as catchy as “Stay In Time”, it could easily have been a hit in its own right.
The single (catalog #: 3647) was released on Atlantic Records in 1979. No picture sleeve was issued, although a sleeve with the company’s name (“The Altantic Group”) was issued. The label features the Atlantic logo featured on 45 RPM singles issued during this era. The album “On” reached #101 on the Billboard album chart and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The follow-up album, “Quick Turns” (1980), was significantly less successful. After a few years of touring, Off Broadway broke up in 1983. In 1996, Johnson, Harding and Harck, joined by Mike Gorman (guitar) and Mike Redmond (guitar), formed Black on Blond. After receiving numerous audience requests to play Off Broadway songs, they soon began playing concerts as Off Broadway. The new lineup released “Fallin’ In” (1997), Off Broadway’s first new studio album in 17 years. A live album, “Live at Fitzgerald’s” (1998), was subsequently released on Crash Records. Since then, Off Broadway has apparently become defunct once again, with former band members moving on to new projects; Cliff Johnson formed the band Cliff Johnson and the Happy Jacks.