Album Spotlight; Healey hopes to ‘Feel’ success

The Jeff Healey Band’s Arista debut, “See the Light,” enjoyed platinum sales, spun off a hit single, “Angel Eyes,” and was nominated for a Grammy Award. The band gained a fair amount of attention because of Healey’s fretboard skills, but also because the guitarist has been blind since birth.

Then came the band’s second album, 1990’s “Hell to Pay.” The title was a tad prophetic, as sales did not match the debut.

“The second album, by all admissions, including the band’s, was not as strong as the first,” says Arista product management VP Tom Ennis. “We had little or no support from MTV on that album, and when we tried to cross the first ballad to Top 40, we had no success at all.”

Healey and his band, drummer Tom Stephen and bassist Joe Rockman, now stand to find out whether they had a first album fluke or fell victim to sophomore slump. The early returns are not encouraging. The release of their third album, “Feel This,” hit the stores last week but has yet to chart on the Billboard 200.

Arista is betting the band can come back.

“You stick with an artist you believe in and we certainly had great success with the Jeff Healey Band,” Ennis says.

Healey and his band will promote “Feel This” on the David Letterman show later this month, and will appear on “The Tonight Show” in December. A tour will commence in the new year.

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