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Easy Street - Easy Street (LP)
 

Easy Street - Easy Street (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Easy Street
Company: Capricorn
Catalog: CP 0174
Year: 1976
Country/State: UK / New Zealand
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 108
Price: $10.00

I bought this one out of pure curiosity. An English band signed to Phil Waldon's Capricorn label simply seemed strange and potentially interesting. Besides, for a buck, how could I go wrong ?



Ken Nichol and his then-brother in law Peter Marsh made their recording debut with a 1974 album entitled "Easy Street". I've only heard snippets of the collection and what little I remember was fairly tame singer/songwriter and pop ('Bernie's', 'Have I Done the Right Thing' and 'I've Been Praying').

Two years on they'd added singer/guitarist Richard Burgess to the line-up and were performing as Easy Street. How they managed to hook up with Capricorn is a major curiosity since musically they didn't have anything in common with your standard Capricorn signing. (Polydor signed the band in the UK.) Instead, their debut collection sounded like an English folk band that had somehow ended up hanging out in Southern California (in fact the trio spent several years living and working in Southern California). Co-produced by the band and Dennis Weinreich, imagine Fairport Convention hanging out with Crosby, Stills and Nash and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood. Actually, add a bit of 10CC quirkiness to the mix and you'll have a better appreciation for their sound. While that may not have sounded like a particularly promising description, these guys had a knack for nice melodies and collectively they churned out some wonderful harmony vocals. Seriously, most of the songs on "Easy Street" had at least some kind of quirk that made them worth hearing.

- One of the album's most commercial numbers, 'Feels Like Heaven' was a breezy country-rock flavored number that served to showcase the trio's sweet harmony vocals. Definite Crosby, Stills and Nash vibe going on here. rating: *** stars
- 'Lazy Dog Shandy' started out as a folk-ish instrumental, before taking a detour into America styled acosutic pop. If you liked dreamy top-40 pop that's apparently dedicated to a pet dog, then this was right up your alley. rating: *** stars
- 'Things I've Done Before' found the band taking a stab at sensitive singer/songwriter moves. Bolstered by some nice acoustic guitar and those gorgeous harmonies, this was one of their prettiest compositions. rating: *** stars
- With a weird almost African-flavored rhythm and refrain, 'Illogical Love' sounded like a bad 10CC song. rating: ** stars
- Kicked along by a stinging lead guitar, 'Shadows On the Wall' was as close to a rock song (okay, country-rock) as they came. If you could get over the Little River Band resemblance, this one wasn't half bad. rating: *** stars
- An old-fashioned ballad with a touch of doo-wop flavor, 'I've Been Lovin' You' was a weird choice for a single (though it actually hit the US top-100 charts), The song was ultimately saved by the old-fashioned harmony vocals that kicked in towards the end. rating: *** stars
- The first half of 'Blame the Love' was a pretty, but forgettable ballad, but about halfway through the electric arrangement kicked in and the song exhibited a nice sense of energy, rating: *** stars
- 'Part of Me' has always reminded me of a 10CC ballad (which is kind of funny given Marsh subsequently worked with Godley and Creme). The vocal had the same sad edge and the melody was pretty, but quirky (always loved the bass work on this one). rating: **** stars
- 'Easy Street' had a distinctive jazz edge which initially didn't do a great deal for me, but grew on me after a couple of spins. rating: *** stars
- 'Wait for Summer' found the trio returning to America folk-rock territory. This time out the song had a pleasant melody and a killer acoustic guitar solo. rating: *** stars
- Exemplified by 'What Have We Become', these guys were infinetly better when they toughened up their sound. With a quirky melody that bounced between hard rock and sweet pop moves, this was another one that sounded like a 10CC number. rating: **** stars

As mentioned, the album was tapped for a couple of singles:



- 1976's 'I've Been Lovin' You' b/w 'Gonna Wait for Summer' (Capricorn CPS 0255)
- 1976's 'Feels Like Heaven' b/w 'Gonna Wait for Summer' (Capricorn CPS 0265)

One of those odd albums where the individual songs are more impressive than the complete LP. The album isn't half bad, but when stitched together many of the songs simply lose their identities. Needless to say, but with the public flocking to punk aggression and Fleetwood Mac, these guys didn't have a chance in the commercial arena.

"Easy Street" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Feels Like Heaven (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Peter Zorn) - 4:28
2.) Lazy Dog Shandy (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh) - 4:43
3.) Things I've Done Before (Ken Nichol) - 4:01
4.) Illogical Love (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Richard Burgess) - 3:33
5.) Shadows On the Wall (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Richard Burgess - Peter Zorn) - 4:15

(side 2)
1.) I've Been Lovin' You (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Richard Burgess - Peter Zorn) - 3:46
2.) Blame the Love (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Richard Burgess) - 3:53
3.) Part of Me (Peter Marsh) - 3:39
4.) Easy Street (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh - Richard Burgess) - 4:15
5.) Wait for Summer (Ken Nichol) - 3:16
6.) What Have We Become (Ken Nichol - Peter Marsh) - 1:58




Capricorn catalog number CP 0184

I've never heard it, but the trio went on to record a follow-on set for Capricorn - 1977's "Under the Glass" before calling it quits.

Burgess turned his attention to studio work supporting a slew of English new age bands including Spandau Ballet and Visage. He eventually joined the band Landscape.

Marsh and Nichol continued their partnership for awhile, eventually heading off on their own.

March reappeared in the short-lived band Twist and then as lead singer for Blanket of Secrecy

Nichol went on to a stint as a touring musician working with the likes of Al Stewart and Steeleye Span. He then became The Albion Band's lead guitarist.
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