Blackfoot — Vertical Smiles (1984)

During the summer tour of 1983 Ken Hensley and Charlie Hargrett sent a few demo recordings, composed for the forthcoming album, to the manager and producer of Blackfoot, Al Nalli. In the autumn the work on the new album started, but for the first time in its history the band worked on new material without Hargrett, whom they decided not to involve. In November they started to record in Atlanta with the engineer Eddie Offord, who previously worked with Yes.

In early January 1984 the album was ready (Charlie Hargrett did not participate in it at all) and sent to Atco, but failed to make the proper impression on the label, and was returned for rework. In late January Charlie Hargrett left the band. The second, re-recorded version of the “Vertical Smiles” album was released later in 1984, but it was able to peak only at No. 176. By the end of 1985 Blackfoot’s line-up completely changed: Ken Hensley was the first who left*, and then Greg T. Walker and Jackson Spyres did, too. Rick Medlocke continued to perform as Rickey Medlocke & Blackfoot from 1986 to 1997.

Ken Hensley co-wrote two songs for «Vertical Smiles», as well as the song «Living In The City» (Medlocke/Spires/Hensley) that was released as the B-side of «Morning Dew» single. «Living In The City» was later included as a bonus track on Blackfoot’s live album, «King Biscuit Flower Hour».

Track list:

  1. Morning Dew (Dobson/Rose) 5.24
  2. Living In The Limelight (Cetera) 3.59
  3. Ride With You (Medlocke/Spires/Barth/Osborne) 3.30
  4. Get It On (Medlocke/Spires/Hensley) 4.26
  5. Young Girl (Medlocke/Spires/Walker) 4.22
  6. Summer Days (Medlocke/Spires) 3.18
  7. A Legend Never Dies (Johnson/Gendel/Maher) 3.01
  8. Heartbeat And Heels (Medlocke/Spires) 3.15
  9. In For The Kill (Hensley/Medlocke/Spires) 3.52


  • Rick Medlocke — lead vocals, guitars, guitar synthesizer
  • Jackson Spyres — drums, backing vocals
  • Ken Hensley — keyboards, backing vocals
  • Greg T. Walker — bass guitar, backing vocals

Producers — Al Nalli and Eddy Offord.

* According to Charlie Hargrett, Ken Hensley abruptly resigned from Blackfoot in the middle of the summer tour in 1984 (“about six months after my departure”, see Hargrett’s web site This contradicts with the statement made by Hensley (see «From Time To Time» liner notes) that he quit Blackfoot when his former manager, Gerry Bron, told him about David Byron‘s death (spring 1985).

Author: Elena Stepanova

This post is also available in: Russian

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