Rock Around the World • November, 1976 29
HALL AND OATES
“Bigger Than Both Of Us” RCA APL1-1467
Without the dubious distinction Of claiming membership to the Flyers or the Phillies, Daryl Hall and John Oates have been spreading their own brand of excitement from the “City of Brother Love”. Of course they’ve gone on now, first to Los Angeles, then to New York, insidiously covering their tracks. Even before the switch to RCA and the gold status of HALL and OATES, their first album for that label, you could tell there was something. . .DIFFERENT about them. I mean, their early apprenticeship in the Philly sound factories, the later association with Todd, and let’s not forget the ghastly rumors concerning this duo’s consortion with the likes of Fripp, Bruford, Zap-pa, and Bowie. Let’s face it! These guys know too much!
And it shows. The newest offering from Daryl and John, BIGGER THAN BOTH OF US, is a natural extension of the funky-pop sound that they’ve mastered and holds promise of extending further the already burgeoning popularity they’ve acquired. There’s a little bit of everything in this disc; ballads like “London Luck & Love” and “Falling”, up-tempo rock formats in “Room To Breathe” and “Back Together Again”, and vocal showpieces like “Kerry” and “Rich Girl”. The best thing about each track is that they are unconventional, meaning that what you hear is not your typical rock song, etc., but a Hall and Oates rock song, etc. There is a difference, and that’s what makes this talented pair unique. The experiences before and during the five LPs of Hall and Oates have covered a great deal of musical ground, and it’s exciting to see that they haven’t even hit their prime yet. AM/FM appealing, the sum of the parts of Hall and Oates at the present can’t be computed.
LITTLE RIVER BAND Harvest ST-11512
It’s turning into the year of kangaroo rock, as Australia is starting
to make an impression on the international music scene. Daddy Cool were perhaps the earliest Aussies to become known here, and 1976 has seen The Skyhooks, Ayers Rock and AC/DC all make the big hop to U.S. release.
The newest entry, and the most American sounding of the lot. is a six-piece entry called the Little River Band. Possessed of a style that can best be described as rock in the key of mellow, these guys don’t upset your bio-rhythms, but they do plant an impression in your mind. The secret, ladies and gents, is their songwriting. Material comes from the three lead singers, and stretches back in some cases to 1973, so it’s not a matter of a sudden gush of writing fever. The tunes are all well-developed, with natural spaces in the arrangements for any of the three lead guitars to come in. At times, the LRB resembles Ace, Little Feat, The Eagles, etc., but never too blatantly, and always with a sense of just who they are. They maintain their identity.
There are, of course, some drawbacks to this otherwise fine debut disc. There’s a number of keyboard fills on the album, but they’re all supplied by a session keyboardist; the band would not be hurt by the addition of a full-time keyboard player. Secondly, the band was responsible for all arrangements and production which is fine from a control point of view, but can lead to difficulties when one is too close to a song to be able to tear it apart if need be.
These, however, are minor details. and certainly won’t detract from your enjoyment of the album. The string section is used most –tastefully, and the songs, especially Graham Goble’s, are of the hummable variety.
The future should be most interesting for this band, but for the present, they’ve got an album to be proud of, and a following that’s growing on the strength of the band’s music. They’ll be heard from in 1977—make sure you’re listening:
LITTLE RIVER’S BEST CURRENTS: “It’s A Long Way There,” “Meanwhile . .,” “I’ll Always Call Your Name,” “I Know It”
AL STEWART “Year Of The Cat”
Al Stewart has always had a reputation of musical quality about his tunes; unfortunately, he’s managed to be generally overlooked by both the media and the public. Part of the problem is that the nature of singer-songwriter with backing group is, surprisingly, not particularly noticeable. Al Stewart
has written some of the nicest songs to come out in the last couple of’ years, but so have David Essex, Leo Sayer, and David Courtney; unless an image is created (such as Leo Sayer’s clown suit), the public usually ain’t interested.
“Year Of The Cat” will hopefully improve Al Stewart’s public visibility without gimmicks; with a masterful flair for getting the best possible recorded sound, he’s brought together Abbey Rd. Studios, Alan Parsons (producer), and musicians Peter Wood, (Natural Gas) Tim Renwick (Sutherland Bros.), Stuart Elliot and George Ford (Cockney Rebel), and Peter White. The results are magnificent. Al Stewart’s songs radiate a glow that’s full of optimism, even if the subject matter isn’t; his melodies bounce along like bubbles on the water, nudged occasionally by tasty background fills. Vocally, Al’s lyrics are ably delivered in a voice that never has to push to be heard above the arrangement, an important consideration when it comes time to hit the road.
Peter Wood and Stuart Elliot are the instrumental standouts this time around, the one developing the melody, the other tying it down to a determined beat. The real secret of all these musicians is that they each play their parts with such proficiency that you tend to forget their presence; ideally, of course, this is what a composer wants from his studio musicians. If they click, then the listener’s attention will be more on the lyrics, which is the idea.
“Year Of The Cat” is a consistent record; all the tunes are strong and instantly hummable without being repetitive of each other. It’s ‘purrr-fectly’ delightful. THE CAT’S MEOW: “Lord Grenville,” On The Border,” “One Stage Before,” “Flying Sorcery”
United Artists UAC 29942
Oh, boy, was this one worth the wait. . .I mean, I’ve been hearing about the progress of this band from a close friend in London since early this year, but I remained skeptical about the results. After all, back in the old days (say, around 1974) they were ‘A Band Called 0’, and flirted quite frequently with a Grateful Dead feel that I found interesting but ultimately unfulfilling.
“Within Reach”, however, does fulfill the promise that the first two ‘0’ albums only hinted at; the addition of Jeff Bannister (ex-Alan Bown) on keyboards has opened up new avenues for the band to explore, a talent the
band’s two previous keyboard players had lacked. The direction the band has developed this time around is a pastiche of styles currently in vogue—Nektar, Man, Little Feat and Pink Floyd all spring to mind immediately. The real talent of this band lies not in the trite aping of other people’s styles, however, but rather in their intelligent co-ordination of those styles into an exciting new entity.
“A Smile Is Diamond” opens the album with an up-beat kick that immediately rivets the listener to his seat with its velvet-gloved intensity. Pix Pickford carries the tune along with his soaring vocals and biting guitar, (ably complemented by the other lead work of guitarist Craig Anders) and more or less sets the tone for the whole album. Each number is allowed the room to develop fully as the instruments trade leads without trodding on each other; what’s being played here is the music of the Seventies, an ensemble arrangement that is concerned with background leads and tasty fills.
At the moment, everything is going O’s way; concert and album reviews have both been warmly favorable, and at last report, the lads were about halfway through writing the next album. They will definitely be a band to watch for in the imminent future; for the ‘0’ Band, the Yellow Brick Road (you know, the one with the pot of gold at the end) is within reach.
0 BOY: A Smile Is Diamond, Don’tcha Wanna, Paradise Blue, Long, Long Way.
“Let’s Stick Together” Atlantic SD 18187
Since Roxy Music’s first fledging steps onto the music scene in 1972, Bryan Ferry has been obsessed with the idea that he should be more than just a singer/ songwriter and occasional keyboards man; he had to become a . . .PERSONALITY! While fronting one of Britain’s most increasingly popular bands, Ferry adopted trappings of the “in” crowd and transcended the music of Roxy by releasing a pair of nostalgic solo albums, sort of a Rod Stewart, but more continental. The song selection on each was camp and pleasant at best, but the bile didn’t rise in my throat until songs like “Walk a Mile In My Shoes” and “You Are My Sunshine” turned up in the Ferry repertoire on ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE, his second album.
Now, amidst the rampant rumors of an imminent Roxy break-
up, things are different. Ferry’s latest outing, LET’S STICK TOGETHER, is his best to date. Five of the LP’s eleven songs are remake-remodelings of earlier Roxy hits, including “Casanova”, “Chance Meeting”, and “Sea Breezes”. The real highlights though, are the versions rendered of the Everly Brothers hit “The Price of Love” and Gallagher and Lyle’s “Heart On My Sleeve” by the tight four piece unit backing Ferry. Plenty of action here, with John Wetton and Paul Thompson handling bass and drums, Chris Spedding on guitar, and Chris Mercer on tenor sax. The shortest distance between two points is the theory applied by this group, and they punch their way through each track, avoiding the electronic frills employed by Roxy Music. Bryan has hit the right combination this time around and the long term benefits of this arrangement could bode well for his career not only as an artiste, but as a face in the crowd.
BE BOP DELUXE “Modern Music” Ca • nol 11575
The vast improvement and total sophisticated surge of this album is astounding. “Modern Music”, fourth in a series of musical masterpieces by Be Bop Deluxe, is by far the best from this oh-so-British foursome to date. The lyrics are amazing, the overall structure is amazing, and Bill Nelson’s guitar work is.
yeah, right. • .amazing.
If Nelson and Co. are out to capture American—they’re hitting in the right areas. “Sunburst Finish” was the (ahem) rockophiles album—for kids young and old who drool over fast finger work and power chords—this was the guitar album of ’76. “Modern Music”, on the other hand, has a somewhat different but definitely complimentary action. Its smooth transitions from cut to cut, and its “elite” rock and roll rhythm takes the time to scoop up other individuals interests with its originality.
Nelson, Clark, Tumahai, and Fox never miss a note or leave a gap. “Modern Music” has a fluidity to it which adheres automatically with Nelson’s somewhat “arty” and ever provocative lyrics. Be Bop has developed a dedicated following—and with reasons like “Modern Music”—how can you blame them? Look for them—success is inevitable.
DELUXE CUTS: Orphans of Babylon; Twilight Capers; Kiss of Light; Modern Music; Down on
BRYAN I FRIO UM SPCA UMW’