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Starry Eyed and Laughing - Thought Talk (LP)

Starry Eyed and Laughing - Thought Talk (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: **** ( 4 stars)
Title:  Tough Talk
Company: Columbia
Catalog: PC-33837
Year: 1975
Country/State: Northampton, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: minor crease bottom right corner; promo stamp on the back cover
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6318
Price: $15.00

Produced by Dan Loggins (Kenny's brother), 1975's "Thought Talk" wasn't a major departure from the band's 1974 debut, though his time around Columbia agreed to release the set in the States. As on the debut album all four members (singer/guitarists Ross McGeeney and Tony Poole, drummer Michael Wackford, and bassist Iain Whitmore) contributed to the writing chores. Once again they wore their musical influences on their sleeves, but if you were going to be influenced by outside bands then you could certainly could have done worse than The Byrds, or a wide array of '70s American country-rockers. Tracks such as Poole's Rickenbacker propelled jangle rocker 'One Foot In the Boat' and 'Flames In the Rain' retained a distinctive Byrds-feel. In fact, the latter may be one of the best Byrds song Roger McGuinn never wrote. ... That said, these guys were more than McGuinn clones. 'Good Love' and 'Keep It To Yourself ' were strong rockers, while 'Since I Lost You' offered up more than competent country-rock. Packaged with strong melodies and some gorgeous vocal harmonies ('Down the Street'), it was the kind of sophomore release most bands could only dream about.

- Opening up with some great McGeeney and Poole lead guitar, 'Good Love' has always reminded me of an English version of Eric Carmen and the Raspberries - had that band ever recorded a really good rock song, or perhaps a rougher version of The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. With an instantly catchy melody and some sterling harmony vocals, the song was tapped as a single, though its hard to see how radio overlooked this charmer. rating: **** stars
- Kicked along by some by Poole's Byrds-styled 12 string Rickenbacker guitar and a lead vocal that bore an uncanny resemblance to Roger McGuinn, 'One Foot In Boat' actually sounded like a lost Byrds masterpiece. The song also sported what I think is a great anti-suicide lyric. rating: **** stars
- A country-rock tinged ballad that again displayed more than a litle Byrds inspiration, 'Since I Lost You' was a complete winner. With an insidiously catchy refrain, some giddy banjo, and one of McGeeney's prettiest solos, this was one of the album highlights. rating: ***** stars
- Another winning ballad, 'Down the Street' was the kind of song a band like The Sutherland Brothers would have killed to get their hands on. Top-40 was literally written all over it had Columbia marketing only been listening. rating: ***** stars
- Sounding like something taken out of the Dan Fogelberg catalog (the vocal actually reminded me of The Eagles Timothy B. Schmidt), Fools' Gold' was a pretty enough slice of singer/songwriter angst. Unfortunately, coming on the heels of a string of ballads, it served to slow the proceedings down a tad too much. rating: *** stars
- A catchy slice of America-styled pop, 'Believe' had a pretty melody, nice harmonies, and one of McGeeney's sweetest solos. rating: *** stars
- It's always struck me as funny that these guys were initially considered part of the early-1970s pub rock wave. Listening to 'Keep It To Yourself ' you'll understand why. A rollicking slice of pub rock, this was easily as good as anything a band like Ace, Bees Like Honey, or Chilli Willi ever recorded. rating: **** stars
- The album's most commercial composition, 'Don't Give Me a Hard Time' was a breezy pop track with a glistening melody and bouncy, upbeat lyrics. Their strong harmony vocals and McGeeney's Fender were prominently displayed throughout. rating: **** stars
- Revisiting their The Byrds inspiration, 'Flames In the Rain' was my choice for standout performance. A blazing rocker showcasing Whitmore's fuzz bass and McGeeney's tasteful Fender, it's always been hard to shake this one out of my head. rating: ***** stars
- The title track instrumental was the album's strangest composition, but also one of the most intriguing. Ever heard one of those David Crosby tracks on a CSN, or CSN&Y LP ? Something like 'Guinevere' ? Well, this had the same floating, pseudo-jazzy vibe ... Complete with gorgeous harmony vocals it was one of those tracks you unexpectedly found yourself humming. rating: **** stars

The album was tapped for a UK single:

- 'Good Love' b/w 'Down the Street' (CBS catalog number S CBS 3455)

Virtually every one of these ten tracks was worth hearing. Curiously, while the featured UK and US releases featured the same track listing, the US release sported a different mix.   
"Thought Talk" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Good Love (Starry Eyed & Laughing) - 4'55
2.) One Foot In the Boat (Tony Poole) - 4:17
3.) Since I Lost You (Iain Whitmore) - 4:53
4.) Down the Street (Ross McGeeney) - 4:13
5.) Fools' Gold (Iain Whitmore) - 4:45

(side 2)
1.) Believe (Ross McGeeney) - 6:00
2.) Keep It To Yourself (Starry Eyed & Laughing) - 3:40
3.) Don't Give Me a Hard Time (Ross McGeeney) - 3:46
4.) Flames In the Rain (Tony Poole - Iain Whitmore) - 5:38
5.) Thought Talk (instrumental) - 5:06

Originally envisioned as an extensive tour of American colleges fell apart, leaving the band to scramble for dates, along the way seeing Poole electrocuted during an Atlanta performance and much of their equipment stolen in New York. The 37 dates they did undertake, including opening for the likes of Flo and Eddie and Weather Report attracted critical praise, but whatever momentum they accumulated vanished when hey returned to the UK and founding member McGeeney quit (or depending on whom you listen to, was fired). Former August singer/guitarist Roger Kelly replaced him, only to see bassist Whitmore quit. Whitmore was replaced by Steve Lewis. McGeeney rejoined the band under the abbreviated name Starry Eyed, the band soldiered on, releasing a couple of tracks that had been recorded with Flo and Eddie during their earlier US tour:

- 1976's 'Song of the Road' b/w 'Don't Give Me a Hard Time' (CBS catalog number S CBS 4577). 
- 1977's 'Saturday' b/w 'Believing' (CBS catalog number S CBS 4805)

For anyone interested, there's an extensive Starry Eyed and Laughing website at:
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