Alvin Dahn was a mausoleum crypt salesman in Buffalo. Believing pop fame beckoned, he quit his job, booked a studio with borrowed cash and made an album with session pros, including a chamber quartet. "I haven't met a less musical person in my life," one engineer said. "At first it was torture, but then I began to realize how special these performances were."
Dahn genre-surfed from country to ballads to disco in a voice that'll never be mistaken for Mel Torme, but with stunningly sophisticated arrangements. Alvin's head-banging rocker, "You're Driving Me Mad," erupts like "Dahn Halen"; it was composed while he was seething over his ex-wife and boss. The ballad "Don't Throw Your Dreams Away" is a landmark; if his earnest singing is less than flawless, it doesn't detract from the gorgeous songcraft. Dahn no longer makes music, due to arthritis and money woes, but he did recently compose the theme to a religious cable TV show. "I prayed," he said, "and the Lord gave me a song."