City Boy (1978) Book Early (LP) Mercury

City Boy

Book Early 

1978

Mercury

Produced by Robert John Lange

*** noteworthy

Robert John “Mutt” Lange would go on the become one of rock’s more successful producers, with Boomtown Rats (1978-1979), AC/DC (1979 – 1981), Def Leppard (1981 – 1987), the Cars (1984),…but before helping to create big radio-friendly sounds for those outfits he produced lesser-known English outfits such as the Records, the Motors, Deaf School, Kevin Coyne, Graham Parker and focused much of his time on the band City Boy, producing all five of their first albums (1976 – 1979). Finally this association landed Lange his first (of many) hit singles with the annoying telephone-number song “5.7.0.5.” that opens this set.


While the pomp-rock quality of “5.7.0.5.” runs through much of this album, things clearly improve after you get past that opener, and this fourth set certainly catches this band at their best. Like so many English bands from the 70s, this comes out of the Beatles without sounding like the Fab Four. The sound falls somewhere between the Hollies and ELO.


Here Lange seems to be in transition between his focus on relatively low-key power pop / pub rock and in-your-face hard rock.  He appears to be taking cues from the big radio-friendly sound of producer Roy Thomas Baker, with the vocal arrangements and big guitars clearly show some Queen influences, especially on the cut “Beth.”


While the band would attempt to continue without Lange, they would soon peter out and break up in the early 80s. Meanwhile, this was the beginning of big things for Mr. Lange.  While Roy Thomas Baker would end the decade with a photo finish, it’s almost as if he’d soon pass the baton on to Lange. Along with producers Ted Templeton and Tom Werman, Lange would grab what he could from the 70s, and lead the FM rock-radio masses into the 1980s.

— winch (author of )

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Gary Brooker (1982) Lead Me To The Water (LP) Mercury (SRM-1-4954)

Gary Brooker

Lead Me To The Water

Mercury (SRM-1-4954)

1982

Written and produced by Brooker

*** (noteworthy)

 

You don’t expect much from an aging rocker (almost 40!) backed with lots of English superstars from the previous two decades (Harrison, Collins, Clapton, Albert Lee, Mel Collins, to name a few)–but this ends up an enjoyable set.

Some of the elements are stamped with the 80s–which listeners will likely find either annoying or interesting– but the sound is very much in the Procol Harum tradition, except here the heaviness of that group is replaced with a lighter pop feel.  This isn’t as drenched in organ, but since Brooker doesn’t seem to be purposely distancing himself from his previous band,  the difference between Procol Harum and this set certainly has something do to with the contributions of the band members on this album.  Fortunately these musicians control their egos, and their contributions are part the compositions rather than an excuse to show off.  This clearly remains Brooker’s album.


This was Brooker’s second solo album, and apparently this is his best.  For fans of this singer/keyboard player or his previous band, this is worth a listen.

— winch