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Fotomaker was a power pop group from Long Island, NY which released three albums between 1978 and 1979. They made three albums within the span of a little over a year, the third of which is considered the weakest of the three. They failed to achieve any success, mostly due to lack of record company promotion.
The band was formed in 1977 by bassist Gene Cornish and drummer Dino Danelli, former members of The Rascals. Rounding out the group was guitarist/vocalist Wally Bryson, formerly of Raspberries and guitarist/vocalist Lex Marchesi and keyboardist/vocalist Frankie Vinci. Although Marchesi and Vinci were relatively unknown, they were undoubtedly[according to whom?] the core talent that drove the band with their versatile songwriting and vocal skills. Fotomaker debuted at the newly remodeled Cleveland Agora in early 1978. From all accounts, Fotomaker brought down the house. Entertainment critics Jane Scott and Anastasia Pantsios from local newspapers both gave glowing reviews and thumbs-up to Fotomaker's premier debut as Atlantic Recording Artists. The band opened with "Can I Please Have Some More", with Bryson's intricate riffing and Marchesi's soaring lead guitar. "All There in her Eyes" featured Vinci's lonely flute solo outtro. The band managed to incorporate some cover material. Wally covered songs like Free's "Wishing Well" and Todd Rundgren's "Couldn't I Just Tell You", and their set ended with Lex Marchesi's "Two Can Make It Work". During that period, early 1978, Kid Leo of WMMS radio in Cleveland featured "Two Can Make It Work" into some of his early afternoon song-list offerings.
The 1978 debut release, simply titled Fotomaker, was a classic example of 1970s power pop: hook-laden choruses, tight overdriven guitars, lush strings, 12-string acoustic guitars, a few melodic ballads, 3-minute radio-friendly tunes and strong vocal harmonies throughout. The LP was released on Atlantic Records.
The second album, Vis-a-Vis, was hurriedly released later in October, 1978. It was recorded at The Record Plant studios (used by the Raspberries) that summer on Wally Bryson's suggestion. Vis-a-Vis opened with Vinci's song "Miles Away" which was released as a single and peaked at #63 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself was not a hit, and received limited support and promotion. Wally Bryson had already left the band before the band's third album, Transfer Station, which included several disco-flavored tracks. Fotomaker did not tour in support of Transfer Station. The album failed to reach the charts, and the group disbanded shortly afterwards.
All three albums were eventually re-released on CD, and Rhino Records even released a best-of compilation in 1995 entitled The Fotomaker Collection.
Wally Bryson returned home to Cleveland early 1979, teaming up with Dann Klawon (aka: It's Cold Outside-The Choir) in his band "Peter Panic". Klawon's band had already been gigging around NE Ohio on/off for number of years, doing mostly cover & some original material. The arrival of Wally Bryson signaled a different direction for "Peter Panic", now poised to work mostly on original material with the acquisition of additional member's Rick Bell on sax (aka Michael Stanley), Todd Weaver on drums & Dave Thomas. Despite positive local media interest & a decent fan base following at many local clubs, topped off with Headlining at Cleveland Agora in February 1980, the band never attracted the attention needed to garner a major recording contract, and despite some good originals, they had disband by Summer 1980. Moving forward Wally has since turned up in Raspberries reunions over the years; he has also collaborated with his son Jesse, in The Bryson Group. Frankie Vinci has done plenty of TV work, including jingles and music for the Super Bowl, and has written songs for others such as country artist Tim McGraw. He also wrote songs for the 1983 summer camp slasher film Sleepaway Camp.
- Fotomaker (Atlantic, 1978) Produced by Eddie Kramer
- Vis-à-vis (Atlantic, 1978) Produced by Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli
- Transfer Station (Atlantic, 1979) Produced by Barry Mraz