Friday, 11 January 2019
David Essex - David Essex (1974)
Released October 1974
This was David Essex's second album and while he was certainly in full teenage idol mode at this point, it is certainly an album with hidden depths and a surprising amount of credibility. For a few years, Essex put out some pretty good material, all self-penned too. He was more than just a glam/pop artist in many ways, but was never really viewed thus, which was a shame. The commercial cover does the album no favours.
1. Gonna Make You A Star
3. I Know
4. There's Something About You Baby
5. Good Ol' Rock 'N' Roll
7. Dance Little Girl
8. Ooh Darling
9. Miss Sweetness
"Gonna Make You A Star" was a huge number one hit and extremely catchy and singalong it was too, with a classic keyboard riff. Lyrically, it was a wry, somewhat cynical observation by Essex on the nature of the stardom that he already had. It is marvellously nostalgic for me of the period, however, too, of watching him on "Top Of The Pops" perform this. The song merges seamlessly into the mysterious "Window" which has distinct echoes his big hit, "Rock On" from the previous year. The percussion is clear as a bell and there is some captivating saxophone too. "I Know" is a bit sort of Leo Sayer meets Paul McCartney in its music hall stageiness. "There's Something About You Baby" is a plaintive ballad that begins with a bit of hiss in the background that eventually gets drowned by orchestration and a big rock ballad backing.
"Good Ol' Rock 'N' Roll" is a wonderfully atmospheric look back at the late fifties with a rumbling bass line and killer vocal from Essex. "Good Ol' Rock 'N' Roll saved this East End soul" sings Essex, before crediting several R'N'R artists as the song fades out. Then comes one of my all-time favourite singles from the seventies in the broody, image-packed "America". It has great backing vocals from the a capella group The Persuasions, some excellent guitar and Essex's vocal is top notch. I loved it the summer of 1974 and I love it still today. Great stuff.
"Dance Little Girl" employs the same bassy, shuffling rhythm that is on "Window", "Good Ol' Rock 'N' Roll" and "America". It is quite infectious. It is also present on "Ooh Darling" although it is a faster, more playful number. "Miss Sweetness" is a rousing, Vaudeville slice of fun with Essex showing his considerable vocal versatility as the song builds up to an entertaining crescendo.
"Stardust" is from the movie of the same name that starred Essex as a tragic rock'n'roll star. It featured a sonorous heartbeat rhythm, a slow, mournful build up and a great guitar solo from Chris Spedding. It fades out with "in a stardust ring, hey, rock'n'roll king is down...." as the sweeping orchestration sounds more and more foreboding. Despite its decidedly uncommercial feel, it was a hit single, proof that David Essex could do no wrong at this point.
- January 11, 2019