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Isaak was born June 26, 1956 in Stockton, California, at St. Joseph's Medical Center, the son blue collor parents, Isaak attended Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in north Stockton, graduating in 1974. He was class president all three years, culminating with his election as Student Body President in his senior year, along with being the 1974 graduating class valedictorian and head of the all-male cheer squad. He subsequently attended a local college, San Joaquin Delta Community College, before transferring to the University of the Pacific (U0P), graduating with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1981.
1977-78 - As a University of the Pacific student, he studies in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan - working as a tour guide, getting a gig as a movie extra, doing some amateur boxing and discovering Elvis Presley's 1954 "Sun Sessions" recordings. Circa 1979 - He and older brother Nick, playing acoustic guitars and harmonizing on rock 'n'roll and country oldies, fill in for an AWOL band at U0P, earning $50 for their first public performance. Isaak buys a Sears Silvertone electric guitar for $80 at a Stockton pawn shop. 1980 - Graduates from UOP with degrees in communications arts and English and after failing to generate much interest in Stockton, heads to San Francisco - decked out in his thrift-shop threads - to "be in a band". After hanging out at clubs and singing with anyone who would listen, he forms the first version of his band, Silvertone, with guitar player James Calvin Wilsey, once a member of the Avengers, a pioneering San Francisco punk-rock band. Circa 1981 Chris meets former Lovin' Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen, who becomes his careerlong producer. After initially being turned down by the label, Isaak signs a contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1984 and records his first album. "Silvertone," his debut album, is released early 85, critics love it, but it sells just 12,000 copies (though it's now gone gold). Later that year bassist Rowland Salley and drummer Kenney Date Johnson join Silvertone, and the band begins a tireless string of small club dates in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
His second album "Chris Isaak" is released; Isaak makes his first appearances on the "Tonight Show" (then hosted by Johnny Carson) and David Letterman's late night talk show (he's now a regular on Letterman and Jay Leno's "Tonight" show); Silvertone wins its first Bammie (Bay Area Music Award) as best club band; Isaak opens a show for - and befriends - one of his heroes, Roy Orbison.
Though he'd played a bit part in a docudrama about jazzman Chet Baker, Isaak makes his full-blown acting debut (sort of), playing a clown hit man in Jonathan Demme's "Married to the Mob"; Silvertone again wins the best-club band Bammie; despite disappointing sales. Warner Bros. renews his contract, switching him to its Reprise label. His "Suspicion of Love" appears on the "Married Io the Mob" soundtrack, the first of 16 soundtracks and compilations on which his songs have been included. Canadian chanteuse K.d. Lang records Isaak's "Western Stars" on her "Shadowland" LP.
His third album, "Heart Shaped World;" is released in 1989. It contains a moody ballad called "Wicked Game" that the record compary chooses not to release as a single. Silvertone threepeats as the Bammies'best club band. 1990 - Director David Lynch uses an instrumental version of "Wicked Game" during a pivotal late-night highway scene in a movie called "Wild at Heart", another year later - an Atlanta radio DJ seeks out the full version of "Wicked Game" and plays it on the air. It becomes a No. 6 national single and goes gold. A sexy black-and-white video goes into heavy MTV rotation and, on Sept. 5, wins three MTV Video Awards. "Heart Shaped World" goes platinum (and, since then, triple-platinum), and Isaak appears on the covers of Rolling Stone, People and Details magazines and gets three-dotted in Herb Caen's San Francisco Chronicle column. He opens a U.S. summer tour for Bonnie Raitt and makes a triumphant return to San Francisco with back-to-back sellouts at the Warfield. Inbetween he plays a SWAT team commander in Demme's Academy Award-winning "the Silence of the Lambs"
Isaak wins a Bammie as Musician of the Year in 92 and plays FBI agent Chester Desmond in "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," a Lynch movie based on the cultish "Twin Peaks" TV series. His fourth album, "San Francisco Days," is released in 93. Wilsey leaves the band, ultimately being replaced by Hershel Yatovitz. Isaak opens a U.S. tour for Tina Turner. Isaak and Silvertone win three Bammies. He plays Seattle yuppie Dean Conrad in "Little Buddha," a Bernardo Bertolucci film that stars Keanu Reeves. Isaak records "Blue Moon" for an Elvis Presley tribute album ("It's Now Or Never") and performs it on a TV special, backed by guitarist Scotty Moore and drummer DJ Fontana, former members of Presley's bands.
"Forever Blue", an album of sad songs prompted by the breakup of his romance with manager Sonya Chang, is released in 95 and goes platinum. He tapes an "MTV Unplugged" segment,and his national tour ends with two sold-out shows at the Warfield. An unknown band called the Wallffowers opens. UOP names him its Oustanding Young Alumnus of the Year. Isaak is nominated for two Grammy Awards in 96, but Alanis Morissette (rock album) and Tom Petty (male rock vocal) win."Baja Sessions," an informal acoustic album inspired by a vacation in Mexico, is released and goes gold. It includes Isaak's first self-produced song ("Think Of Tomorrow"). Isaak and Silvertone sweep five Bammie Awards, including a second Musician of the Year for Isaak. Isaak appears as Uncle Bob in a Tom Hanks-directed film ("That Thing You Do!") and as Matthew Lewis in a film called "Grace of My Heart". He plays a musically challenged librarian during a Super Bowl Sunday segment of TV's "Friends".
His seventh album, the harder-rocking "Speak of the Devil," is released and reaches gold status. It includes more self-produced tracks and a collaboration ("Breaking Apart") with Grammy Award-winning Songwriter Diane Warren. He plays astronaut Ed White - his first nonfictional role - in Hanks'HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" and is featured on VH1 "Hard Rock Live" . He also plays a rural sheriff in an Independent film called "Blue Ridge Fall". He wins another Bammie as California's best male vocalist - the 13th for him and members of Silvertone - and co-hosts the awards Show. He inducts Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing," a song from "Forever Blue" is used in a steamy Nicole Kidman-Tom Cruise scene in "Eyes Wide Shut", director Stanley Kubrick's final film. It also becomes a Lexus commercial. VH1 names "Wicked Game" the No. 9 video of the 90's
In 2001, Isaak starred in his own television show, The Chris Isaak Show. It aired from March 2001 to March 2004 in the United States on the cable television network Showtime. This adult comedy show featured Isaak and his band playing themselves and the episode plots were based on fictional accounts of the backstage world of Isaak—the rock star next door. In 2004, his track "Life Will Go On" was featured on Chasing Liberty's soundtrack, which starred Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. His track "Two Hearts" was featured in the closing credits of the 1993 film True Romance, directed by Tony Scott, written by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette.
Isaak's producer, Erik Jacobsen, was instrumental in his sound for 15 years. but Chris ceased working with Jacobsen on his 2002 album, Always Got Tonight. In 2004 he released a Christmas album ah well Isaak collaborated with John Shanks for his 2009 album Mr. Lucky.
He contributed a cover of Buddy Holly's "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" for a tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, released in September 2011. Isaak released an album called Beyond the Sun, which was recorded in 2011 Memphis, Tennessee at the Sun Records studio. Several live albums have been released as well these last years.
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Chris Isaak's debut album, Silvertone, named after his three-piece backup group, sets the pattern for his subsequent albums in its meticulously constructed retro sound. Isaak enters a time machine and emerges around 1960, when Roy Orbison is ruling the charts with his melodramatic ballads and Elvis Presley has just returned from the Army. Of course, what passed for a style 25 years before is in Isaak's hands stylization, and when he wails in an Orbison falsetto of romantic desperation, then does a flat, Presley-like recitation in the album-closing "Western Stars," it all seems over the top. But he is just about sincere enough to pull it off, and James Calvin Wilsey is a strong enough guitarist to keep the arrangements on track.
There is a brooding, dark and eerie sound to the songs. "Dancin'" has an almost funky vibe to it, "The Lonely Ones" is a Roy Orbison redux and is an absolutely magnificent song and "Western Stars" is a lilting ballad. Chris has a deep, smooth voice that adds a density to the songs while Silvertone plays songs in a way that seems on the surface to be quite simple but are full of nuances. It's a great debut record. One track from the album "Dancin" was Isaak's first music video featured on MTV and two tracks from this album, "Gone Ridin'" and "Livin' for Your Lover" featured in David Lynch's cult classic Blue Velvet.
Chris Isaak - Silvertone (flac 217mb)
01 Dancin' 3:44
02 Talk To Me 3:04
03 Livin' For Your Lover 2:56
04 Back On Your Side 3:14
05 Voodoo 2:44
06 Funeral In Rain 3:18
07 The Lonely Ones 3:12
08 Unhappiness 3:10
09 Tears 2:44
10 Gone Ridin' 2:36
11 Pretty Girls Don't Cry 2:24
12 Western Stars 3:12
13 Another Idea 2:57
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Having established a winning musical combination on Silvertone, Chris Isaak and his band essentially continue it with little variation on his second album, 11 songs of smoky, wounded romance and dark menace given great all-around performances. Isaak's gift for capturing a perfect blend of early rock & roll twang and making it sound perfectly of the now is his greatest strength, and if later albums showed him finding new ways to twist and develop his approach, the relatively straight-up work here is more than fine. "Blue Hotel" is easily the killer track on the album, James Wilsey's spaghetti Western lead guitar and Isaak's yearning, lost singing perfectly matched. There are plenty of other reasons to listen in, though. "You Owe Me Some Kind of Love" is in many ways the precursor to Forever Blue's "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing," only before the breakup, though still charged with a threat of desire and need. Wilsey's concluding guitar solo is especially sharp, and the way Isaak delivers the chorus balances between melancholy and urgency. For all the Roy Orbison comparisons Isaak won, "Cryin'" is in fact an original, but Isaak does tip his hat another direction with an attractive remake of the Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul," making it sound very much like an Isaak original instead of a worshipful carbon copy. Erik Jacobsen's production again emphasizes Kenney Dale Johnson's drumming without making it suffer from late-'80s corporate rock disease, while touches like the sax on "Lie to Me" which clearly foreshadows the later "Wicked Game". Jacobsen buried strings and wordless backing vocals elsewhere adds depth and lushness to the album in just-right amounts. The whole experience is pure doom-haunted passion, elegantly on the run away from -- or towards -- someone. All that and a killer cover photo as well, the iris of Isaak's eye only just in the light.
Chris Isaak - Chris Isaak (flac 226mb)
01 You Owe Me Some Kind Of Love 3:51
02 Heart Full Of Soul 3:20
03 Blue Hotel 3:10
04 Lie To Me 4:12
05 Fade Away 4:15
06 Wild Love 2:57
07 This Love Will Last 2:45
08 You Took My Heart 2:31
09 Cryin' 2:30
10 Lovers Game 2:55
11 Waiting For The Rain To Fall 3:39
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When filmmaker David Lynch backed a disquieting scene in Blue Velvet with Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," he demonstrated the eerie atmosphere behind its pre-'60s innocence. Orbison disciple Chris Isaak played those qualities to the hilt in his shimmering, spare "Wicked Game," so it was no surprise when Lynch included the ballad in Wild at Heart. What was surprising, given the fact that it sounded like nothing else on pop radio in 1990, was that "Wicked Game" became a breakout Top Ten hit, pushing Isaak's accompanying album Heart Shaped World to platinum status. Of course, there's more than that one moody masterpiece of a single to recommend Heart Shaped World. Isaak faithfully recreates his influences with production that's infinitely cleaner than Sun rock & roll, drawing more on its form than its attitude, but he's particularly suited to the sort of Orbison/Presley-style balladry that brought him a mass audience. His rich, sobbing croon is simply a gorgeous instrument, whether he's in a sonorous baritone or quavering falsetto. And he uses that instrument to tremendous effect here, coming across as a brooding romantic with a broken heart and swoon-inducing style. Of itself, Heart Shaped World is a pretty effective mood piece, showcasing Isaak doing a whole lot of what he does best. He does attempt a couple of rockers, but they never really rock -- much like Orbison, it's clear that ballads are his true forte, and given the spirit Isaak wants to channel, the numbers feel much too tame. But aside from that flaw, the rest of Heart Shaped World is a supremely elegant late-night soundtrack, equally suited to steamy romance or solitary heartache.
Chris Isaak - Heart Shaped World (flac 279mb)
01 Heart Shaped World 3:26
02 I'm Not Waiting 3:15
03 Don't Make Me Dream About You 3:30
04 Kings Of The Highway 4:44
05 Wicked Game 4:46
06 Blue Spanish Sky 3:57
07 Wrong To Love You 4:17
08 Forever Young 3:20
09 Nothing's Changed 4:05
10 In The Heat Of The Jungle 6:20
11 Diddley Daddy 4:05
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