Friday, 4 January 2019

Leo Sayer - Silverbird (1973)

The show must go on....


Released in 1973

Leo Sayer sprung from nowhere in late 1973 with this album and the accompanying hit single "The Show Must Go On" (which saw Sayer on "Top Of The Pops" in full Pierrot clown get-up). He was the lyricist and singer for composer David Courtney's melodies and the album was produced by Adam Faith. The songwriting duo also provided material for The Who's Roger Daltrey's solo "Daltrey" album. Sayer was seemingly trying to get in on the Elton John singer/songwriter thing while at the same time having a bit of David Bowie/Steve Harley quirkiness with his initial costumed image. The innovativeness didn't last too long, though, and Sayer ended up in the mainstream within a few years, scoring a huge number one with the standard ballad "When I Need You". However, this offering was a decidedly unusual debut.


1. Innocent Bystander
2. Goodnight Old Friend
3. Drop Back
4. Silver Bird
5. The Show Must Go On
6. The Dancer
7. Tomorrow
8. Don't Say It's Over
9. Slow Motion
10. Oh Wot A Life
11. Why Is Everybody Going Home                  

The opener, "Innocent Bystander" has many echoes of Elton John's early seventies output with is strong piano backing. That mood is continued into "Goodnight Old Friend", with its big string orchestration, such as appeared on the "Elton John" album. Sayer provides a theatrical, stagey vocal. It really is a very difficult album to categorise, however. "Drop Back" has more of that Elton feel, it has to be said, probably more so than on the previous two tracks. It also has some muscular rock parts in it too, as well as the plaintive vocal/piano bits. The title track is a brief musical interlude before the album's tour de force, the unique "The Show Must Go On", complete on the album with extra circus intro that didn't appear on the single. The song sounds like something a one man band may have played, with its thumping bass drum sound during the verses. Sayer launches into some madcap "scat" vocals at one point too. A most quirky track.

"The Dancer" exemplifies the word "plaintive". It is an evocative voice and piano/strings ballad. "Tomorrow" is the album's most powerful, rock track, with thumping drums and chunky guitar riffs. It is probably my favourite cut on the album. "Don't Say It's Over" is a beautiful, haunting rock ballad that bursts into life half way through with some solid rock backing. "Slow Motion" is  short piano and vocal, Elton John number, with Sayer's voice even displaying an John-esque twang. "Oh Wot A Life" is a growling rocker, full of vibrancy and vocal ebullience. Sayer's first, non-hit, single closes the album, "Why Is Everybody Going Home", another atmospheric but stately and quiet number that made a strange choice for a single. It is a nice track though and this certainly is a most interesting album, but I have to admit it is very much of its time.


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