Singing and songwriting rock songs have been Gino Vannelli’s area of expertise since he was a teenager. While he’s written and performed hundreds of songs over the years, he got his most significant break in the 1970s and 1980s. Who is he, and what are his best songs? According to Wikipedia, Vannelli is a Quebec, Canada-born rock singer and songwriter who initially started his career as a drummer. His role models were Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa inspired him to pursue his ambitions while he was still a teenager. With an educational background in music theory from Montreal’s McGill University, he changed his career path to singing and songwriting. Here are his ten best songs of all time, ranked.
10. “Love Me Now”- Storm at Sunup (1975)
“Love Me Now” is the second single on Gino Vannelli’s third album, Storm at Sunup. The storyline primarily exposes an emotionally damaged man who tells his lover that he’s healed his inner-child wounds. Of course, he’s hoping his lady will believe him. Whatever happens after that? We can never know.
9. “Black Cars”- Black Cars album (1984)
“Black Cars” is the lead single on Gino Vannelli’s eighth album with a similar title. Gino Vannelli-the lead vocalist and guitarist performed the song; Mike Miller-the guitarist. Joe Vannelli- the synthesizer; Jimmy Haslip- the bass guitarist; David Garibaldi- the drummer; and Mark Craney- the drummer. Its producers were the lead singer, his brother Joe and Ross Vannelli. Fortunately, it became the singer’s hit song, alongside “Hurts to Be in Love.”
8. “Wheels of Life”- Brother to Brother album (1978)
“Wheels of Life” is a Buddhist expression explaining the milestones of cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation. Each step you take from birth has a scientific explanation behind it. However, the 1978 song doesn’t dwell on its meaning. Instead, they focus on assuring their lover that they have their back. This song also features on the singer’s sixth album, Brother to Brother.
7. “The River Must Flow”- Brother to Brother album (1978)
According to Discogs, Brother to Brother was Vannelli’s sixth studio album featuring “The River Must Flow” as its Side one-second song. It’s one of the songs with the highest-charting status to date, peaking at 80 in the singer’s native country. From what we’ve gathered, it’s a romantic song that the narrator uses to express emotions to his lover.
6. “Appaloosa”- Brother to Brother album (1978)
If there’s anything Vannelli is good at, it is performing live. “Appaloosa” is one of the songs he performed live. He named this song Appaloosa after an American horse breed with a colorful spotted coat pattern. When a singer sings about a horse, it means they love animals. I assume he was into horses, so using them as a metaphor was quite creative.
5. “Wild Horses”- Big Dreamers Never Sleep (1987)
“Wild Horses” is the third single on Vannelli’s Big Dreamers Never Sleep album. The singer co-wrote the song alongside Roy Freeland after his 1979 world tour. For eight years, he spent his time appearing live sporadically. The song opens with a verse describing the sun setting down the Arizona plain, and it appears that he’s enjoying the setting with his lover. The narrator says that he’s down with his lover no matter the hurdles put before him. I think that’s an excellent way to express how much your lover means to you because all you need is someone you love beside you.
4. “Hurts to Be in Love”- Black Cars (Bonus Track Version) (1985)
Being in love is something we all want to experience, but it can be disastrous if you’re with the wrong person. That was what Gino Vannelli meant when co-wrote his “Hurts to Be in Love” song. As a bonus track, the singer released it in 1985 for his eighth album, Black Cars. Known for his beautiful voice and choreography prowess, Vannelli thanked the heavens that he performed this song. This song peaked at 19 in his native country, 57 on the US Billboard Top 100, and sixth on the Adult Contemporary chart. Like most songs on this list, “Hurts to Be in Love” was produced by the Vannelli brothers but written by Gino.
3. “Living Inside Myself”-Nightwalker album (1981)
In 1981, Vannelli released a deep and pure emotional song titled “Living Inside Myself” for his seventh album, Nightwalker. Produced by the Vannelli brothers, the song peaked at number 13 in their native country’s Top Singles chart and second on Adult Contemporary charts. The US Billboard Hot 100 ranked it sixth. The story behind this song is about a person who feels hollow without his ex-lover. In such situations, everything reminds you of them, but it takes time to accept that you’ll never get them back.
2. “I Just Wanna Stop”- Brother to Brother album (1978)
“I Just Wanna Stop” is one of Vannelli’s most significant hits after its release in 1978 and to date. It peaked first in his native country and fourth on the US Billboard Top 100. The singer/songwriter included it in his sixth album, Brother to Brother, which earned Canadian and US platinum. He also credits his brothers, Joe and Ross Vannelli, for making it commercially successful. It didn’t take time before it got a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
1. “People Gotta Move”- Powerful People album (1974)
According to Ginov, “People Gotta Move” is the lead single from Vannelli’s second studio album, Powerful People. It became his first hit in the US when disco music was trendy in the 1970s. The song peaked at 22 on the US Billboard Top 100 and 21 in Canada. The album featured also ranked 34 in Canada. Both the song and album performed exceptionally well because they were Vannelli’s first experiment with synthesizers.
Gino Vannelli has released hits after hits, and, unsurprisingly, music critics and fans wouldn’t want to heap praises for his efforts since he entered the limelight. Other artists might have outperformed or underperformed him, but if his music inspires your soul, you wouldn’t have trouble realizing that he was a rock song/songwriter prowess.