The material below is just part of the story, from ex-producer Randy Laton, who kindly agreed to let me reproduce this from his old website. An expanded story is on the way from Anthony Daluz (ex- Shadows guitarist)
ROBERT VAUGHN'S SONGS & STORIES
(adapted from Randy Layton's Alternative Records website) NB This information only goes up to the mid 1990's
Robert Vaughn, in my opinion, is a songwriter and performer of great ability, depth, and a lot of charisma tossed in.
My association with RV goes back to the Island/Exit days when I was promoting their product to college radio. Love and War was what I used to call "passionately anthemic"- music that was similar to that of the Alarm, U2, and Simple Minds, with a little more guitar in the mix. Radio jumped all over the single "Justice" but by the time RV and band performed it on American Bandstand it had already died - the retail division of Island had dropped the ball and this chain of events led to Exit severing it's ties.
Robert kept writing and shopping material around, but not much happened until late 1990. I had called him up, with the idea of doing an album of some new material. Telling me it looked like he had a deal with Atlantic, he passed but we had a good conversation. I was then suprised (not for the last time) when he called 2 months later, informing me he'd been working on "our album". And off I went on the RV rollercoaster ride!
The Riverhouse album is detailed elsewhere....but there were always projects and ideas flying about. We started work on a video album for Riverhouse (RV always had been into video, and even documented the making of the Island album back in 1987) and five videos were completed. "Gypsy Girl", "You Could Be Mine", "Heartbreak and Ecstacy", "Gold Slippers", and "Velvet Tattoo" were to be included along with some comic bits, a look through the past history of the band, and other stuff. I sank a bit of money into this, but like a lot of projects of RV's, it was never completed.
After shopping Riverhouse around, Priority and Sony both wanted RV on board. Priority wanted Riverhouse as I conceived it, packaging, songs, and all with AR's continued association. Sony wanted some of the songs, wanted some remixing and new material, and me out of the way. Eventually, Sony was chosen because they offered more long-term support in terms of tour and radio promotion. In the end, Sony spent over $140,000 on recording songs and remixes and still chose not to release it. I remember some executive from the East Coast showed up and heard the album and said that he thought 1992 was "not going to be the year of the singer-songwriter"- and it was shelved.
It was also a bad album - not so much in terms of the songs, but the production - incredibly over-produced, over-wrought arrangements. "Say", a gentle little song from Riverhouse was turned into a 5 minute power ballad. The best example of producers gone amok was with the track "Gypsy Girl"- we had used "fake drums" on that track (although most people couldn't tell). Studio drummer legend, the late Jeff Porcaro, was brought in to add "real drums"- but couldn't match the part we'd programmed! So they sampled Jeff's sound and programmed that - amazing stuff.
The Sony experience virtually ruined AR for a long time - I lost an album, about $25,000 and not much to show for it. I did steer him over to Miramar, who took the same approach as Sony - half Riverhouse tracks and some new stuff - and released that album as Robert Vaughn & The Dead River Angels in 1994. Miramar never paid me a dime for the Riverhouse tracks, as they were supposed to, and never did do any accounting. On the other hand, Miramar couldn't get RV to cooperate on promotion, touring, and other things, and eventually they parted ways quite viciously. Since then, RV has done some producing, the occasional demo, and is hanging out somewhere in LA as of this writing. His band has finally gone their own way - Randy and Scott LaRocco are now in a band with ex-Beat Farmer members, and John Nau has his own band, Zoo People, and sees a lot of work as a session musician (he's all over the new Hootie album).