Sunday, 6 January 2019

Leo Sayer - Another Year (1975)


  

Released September 1975

This was the third, and last, of Leo Sayer's "credible" singer/songwriter albums, before he went to L.A. and started recording mainstream ballad/commercial disco material. While the latter was certainly more successful for Sayer, and made him a household name, it was these first three albums that contained some really good songs and are far more worthy of several listens. This album concentrated on the sad, often lonely lives of some of the British urban population. This was also the last of Sayer's "sad" albums, full of mournful songs about the lost, isolated and heartbroken. In some places he seems to get nostalgic, anticipating how things may end for his career. His upcoming move into the chart pop mainstream seemingly came at just the right time.

TRACK LISTING

1. Bedsitterland
2. Unlucky In Love
3. The Last Gig Of Johnny B. Goode
4. On The Old Dirt Road
5. I Will Not Stop Fighting
6. Moonlighting
7. Streets Of Your Town
8. The Kid's Grown Up
9. Only Dreaming
10. Another Year                                                  

"Bedsitterland" is a solemn, plaintive, piano-driven number upon which to open the album. As with many of Sayer's songs from the period, it is very Elton John-esque. When it ups the pace in the middle, (the percussion and bass backing is crystal clear), and it just sounds so Elton-ish then. There is a jazzy feel to it in places, with echoes of Billy Joel too. I remember hearing this song at time, and, as a teenager, I didn't know what a "bedsitter" was. Listening to it now, it is certainly up there with the best of Elton John or Billy Joel at the time. "Unlucky In Love" is a typical mid-seventies rock ballad, with Sayer's voice strong and emotive over the powerful backing. "The Last Gig Of Johnny B. Goode" is an atmospheric, Billy Joel-style tale of a faded old pop star's final gig. "The Old Dirt Road"  had Sayer returning to his Vaudevillian, showman roots that dominated his debut album. He always liked a bit of this sort of thing.


"I Will Not Stop Fighting" has a feel of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" at the beginning. It is a stark, piano-backed solemn ballad. "Moonlighting" was the album's big hit single, and deservedly so. It is a captivating "story song" about a couple eloping to marry in Gretna Green. Sayer sang "we're only ten miles to GretnaTH and three hundred behind", for some reason, though. "Streets Of Your Town" evokes Ralph McTell's "The Streets of London" in a haunting song about the lost and the lonely existing on the streets. "The Kid's Grown Up" has Sayer looking back at his own development into a big time pop star who travels in a limousine. It has hints of The Who in places, or certainly Roger Daltrey in the vocal.

"Only Dreaming" is a bit folk-rock-ish in its gentle acoustic and bass intro before Sayer's growling vocal ramps it up considerably. It ends with some sweeping big string orchestration. "Another Year" sees in 1975 and then 1976 with a sombre, piano ballad. This was certainly Sayer's last album in this vein. It used to be my favourite of his albums back in 1975-76, but listening to them all again, I actually prefer the first two.

The non-album single, a cover of The Beatles' "Let It Be" provided a marker as to the direction that Sayer's music would subsequently take.

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