Sunday, 17 February 2019

David Essex - Out On The Street (1976)


Released in 1976

David Essex, try as he might, never shook off the "teen idol" thing, despite three previous, very credible albums, before this one. The music business had a pretty snobbish attitude to Essex, and simply refused to take him seriously. The worst thing then, in 1976, that could have happened to Essex was the advent of punk, rendering him even more irrelevant. This was a real shame, because this is a really good album. It took up where the previous year's "All The Fun Of The Fair" left off, with often lengthy, musically adventurous tracks packed full of cinematic images.


1. Out On The Street
2. Let The Fool Live
3. Thank You Very Much
4. Just Wanna Dance
5. Run With The Pack
6. Coming Home
7. Ooh Love
8. City Lights                                          

If David Bowie had recorded "Out On The Street", it would have been hailed as a work of genius. I say that because it is very Bowie-esque, both in its theatricality, lyrics, and "Sweet Thing" saxophone intro. There is a lot of The Who in here too. The track is ten minutes long and sweeps from various moods and pace changes. It really is a bit of an underrated classic and certainly nothing like anything one would expect from David Essex. The saxophone on it is superb, as too is Essex's vocal. "Let The Fool Live" had a Supertramp-style keyboard intro and a dramatic Roger Daltrey-influenced vocal. David Essex had experience of stage musicals, and much of his material sounds as if it would suit a stage show.

"Thank You Very Much" is an alluring, soulful ballad with sweeping strings and a delicious, laid-back vocal augmented by more sumptuous saxophone. It is a slow Philly Soul-sounding number and has a timeless quality about it. Some more great saxophone introduces the piano-driven soul/rock of "Just Wanna Dance" which has a sort of Doobie Brothers meets mid-seventies Traffic sound about it.

The cinematic thing is back with the big production drama of "Run With The Pack". More changes of pace and frantic backing at times, inspired by five minutes plus singles like John Miles' "Music" from the same period. It even goes Springsteen-esque with the line about "going east on the underground". Again, it has a street opera quality in its presentation and delivery. The album's one hit single was up next in the catchy, more typical lovable David Essex fare of "Coming Home". By 1976, it sounded a bit incongruous, but it still did well enough, even though it had 1974 written all over it. "Ooh Love" is a syncopated shuffler that re-visits the mysterious sound of Essex's first hit, the beguiling "Rock On".

The album concludes with the mighty "City Lights", which is another lengthy rollercoaster ride of a track. It was released as a single, reaching number 24, the same position as the far more commercial "Coming Home". It has a superb vocal, intoxicating beat and atmosphere. Great stuff. Make no mistake this was a good album. Get hold of it if you can. It is pretty scarce these days.


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