Saturday, 5 January 2019

Leo Sayer - Just A Boy (1974)

Everybody knows down Ladbroke Grove....

  

Released October 1974

After the quirky debut album, Silverbird", Leo Sayer and musical collaborator David Courtney out out another album in the same sort of vein. The songs are oddly appealing, difficult to categorise, still bearing that early Elton John influence, but striving for a touch of unique personality. The clown's outfit Sayer donned for the first album was now gone, but he still put himself forward as a showman, a kind of sometimes sad, reflective but always energetic Vaudevillian. This is shown in the album's rear cover which shows Sayer laughing at his previous image, while the front cover is Cat Stevens-esque in its mournful-looking drawing of Sayer looking sad and lonely.

TRACK LISTING

1. Telepath
2. Train
3. Bells Of St. Mary's
4. One Man Band
5. In My Life
6. When I Come Home This Morning
7. Long Tall Glasses
8. Another Time
9. Solo                                                            
10. Giving It All Away

"Telepath" is a grandiose, operatic-style number with an odd shaking vocal and a big production and more of the Elton John echoes that were so prevalent on the debut album. "Train" starts plaintively before launching into a solidly rocking beat with some New Orleans jazzy-style brass. "Bells Of St. Mary's" is an emotive ballad about a musician. There is no doubt that Sayer wrote some atmosphere, touching songs. This is very much Leo Sayer at his best, before he became a mainstream chart act in 1977.

"One Man Band" was a catchy hit single and, along with "Giving It All Away" were songs recorded by Roger Daltrey on his "Daltrey" album. Indeed, "Giving it All Away" was a hit single for Daltrey. The reverse of "One Man Band" which was a hit single for Sayer and an album track for Daltrey.


"In My Life" is an impressive, powerful and typically mid-seventies rock ballad. It has a big bass piano and drum sound and a strong, confident vocal from Sayer. There is always and underlying sadness to Sayer's material at this point in his career and "When I Come Home This Morning" is a beautiful, heartbreaking ballad, full of emotion and expressive vocals.

As I said earlier, there was also the inveterate showman in Sayer too, and this is exemplified in the album's other hit single, the incredibly catchy and individual fun of "Long Tall Glasses". "Another Time" is a big production, dramatic ballad, again the mournful mode, this time about Sayer's lonely life on the road. The same subject is covered in the big, brassy theatrical punch of "Solo". The albums ends with the afore-mentioned "Giving It All Away", a plaintive, once again moving piano-driven ballad.

This was another highly credible album from Leo Sayer and deserves more attention than to dismiss it as the work of the "When I Need You" chart artist. It is far better than that and is recommended.

B-

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