Bill LaBounty knows a lot about the great American songwriter. However, in Bill LaBounty's case, it's not just academic, it's what he sees in the mirror everyday. With successes spanning almost two decades, both as a solo artist and a songwriter for other artists, Bill is back to center stage with his Noteworthy debut, The Right Direction. "I have always gotten the most gratification out of being a songwriter," says LaBounty, "but I enjoyed recording my own songs again because unlike with my previous albums, I had control as a co-producer. Often outside producers cater more to themselves than to their artists, but this time, I could make sure my performance was up to my standards."
The story of LaBounty's association with Robbie Dupree (who co-produced The Right Direction), is in essence that story of one of Bill's earliest successes. "I met Rob because he was in recording his first album in a studio I worked at, " recalls Bill, "and he saw a tape with a song title on it that interested him. Gary Brant, the studio owner, said well, you can't just take it out and play it you know, you have to call the guy and ask. So he called me and said can I play this song for Rob? And I said that's fine, and as long as it took for the song to play, they called me back and said, can Rob record it ? At the time my recording career was on hold, like it was for much of the time when I was in L.A., and I said yeah, but I would like to come down and participate in it somehow. I didn't want to just give this song away, because at that time my recording career was pretty much my priority. So they said well, get in the car and come on over. So I drove over there and ended up singing and playing on it and really liked everybody and we all got along. And that song ['Hot Rod Hearts'] went on, I think, to hit number 8 or 7 on the pop charts. And we went on to be kind of fast friends and we did a lot of writing together."
Aside from his four solo albums in the early Eighties (one for 20th Century Fox and three for Warner Brothers), Bill has written songs for a dazzling array of pop and country stars: James Taylor, Jennifer Warnes, Patti LaBelle, Steve Warner, Ronnie Milsap, The Temptations, The Judds, Brooks & Dunn, Tanya Tucker, the Oak Ridge Boys, Jimmy Buffett, Conway Twitty and Gino Vanelli, among others. Of the dozens of Songwriters Bill has collaborated with over the years, the most significant is his wife Becky Foster, who's first cover with Bill was Sawyer Born's "Heart Don't fail Now," which launched their lucrative career. Among their movie song highlights is Peter Cetera's "No Explanation" from Pretty Woman.
Bill's respect as a songwriter can be partially measured by the company he kept for this project. "Larry [Carlton] came and played," states LaBounty. "He and I are old friends, and he'd always said if you ever need me to play, call me and I'll come and play. And I thought he'd come and do a solo or two on a few things, and boy, he showed up with his total rack, his sound guy, and he came for two nights in a row and he played on everything, and that's what he wanted to do."
"I originally had Jerry Marotta and Jerry Levin scheduled to work with me," LaBounty continues, "and for some reason they wound up not being able to make the date. So at the last minute we did get a hold of Neal [Stubenhaus] and he told us that he and [John] Robinson were going to be in L.A. for two days because they were on tour with somebody, and Neal said we'll do the date but you have to just let us play -- you can't tweak us or anything. We'll do it but if it's not fun we'll just go home and watch T.V.. Which was sort of a new concept for me because, I have to confess that, in the past I have wanted the guys to play the high-hat on the first 'and' of the beat going into the bridge and do a hat-pull or whatever and get on everybody's case. But when I sort of let go of all that, and I was certainly in good hands to do it with, it was great, and they did have fun."
"Bill's artistry and my career have been entwined since 1980 and every record I have done he has been a part of," says Dupree. The Right Direction is rich with emotional portrayal. No one can do a Bill LaBonuty song like Bill LaBounty."