This first album by City Boy introduces their sense of melody and humor, and is perhaps the most “pure” of all releases when listening for the City Boy sound. It seems as though they might have been listening to some 10cc, but other than that, it is very original in scope. Later introductions of more powerful harmonies and guitars were thorough and apt, but this and 1977’s Dinner At the Ritz are the most unpolluted by City Boy’s later Styx and Queen leanings.
“Moonlight (Shake My Head and Leave)” is smooth with a great island groove and a nice dynamic build. It’s pretty, and is a good showcase for the emerging talents of guitarist Mike Slamer. The vocal harmonies led by lead vocalist Lol Mason, are prominent and are always a signature of the City Boy sound. Those vocals sound especially nice at the turnaround of “Deadly Delicious” two minutes in.
Arguably, the masterpiece of the album is “Sunset Blvd,” roughly based on the movie of the same name. It is very cinematic in the way it tells its story of the aging movie star. “Oddball Dance” is… odd. “5000 Years/Don’t Know Can’t Tell” shows what Steve Broughton brings to this band. His sensitive voice and talents as a songwriter are missed in the latter days of the band. These two songs don’t really mesh together all that well, but they are good songs.
The final songs “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Haymaking Time” are heart-warming magnificence in music. “Haymaking Time” especially is folky and anthemic, almost recalling The Strawbs or Moody Blues. The outro for the last couple minutes with the voices and the guitar are pure magic.
Although City Boy’s first record doesn’t rock quite as hard, or have as much of an inventive quality, nor does it even showcase the talents effectively of this incredible band. It still maintains a bit of charm for being the most raw and exposed version of a band that would release some truly great (if unsung) records later. Recommended if you already own Young Men Gone West and The Day the Earth Caught Fire and wish to keep exploring.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on October 27th, 2011