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Murray Head - Say It Ain't So
 

Murray Head - Say It Ain't So

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Title:  Say It Ain't So
Company: A&M
Catalog: SP-4558
Year: 1976
Country/State: Scotland
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; white promo copy; cut out hole top right

Most of the songs on 1976's "Say It Ain't So" were actually written in 1974, apparently intended for a follow-up to his 1973 debut "Nigel Lived". Unfortunate, that album's lack of sales (so much for debuting with a concept album), saw Head quickly lose his recording contract, hence part of the reason for the three year delay in releasing a follow-on.

Released by Island in the UK and A&M in the States, "Say It Ain't So" was produced by Paul Samwell-Smith. With Head responsible for all of the material, the ten tracks were apparently written to accompany the play "Atlantis" (which is a complete unknown to me). Ah, another concept album ... and as you'd expect, the plotline was totally lost on me. Regardless, backed by an impressive all star cast of friends including members of Bad Company and Yes, this set sounded pretty good which probably went a long way to explaining why so many of the tracks were picked up as covers by other acts:

- Roger Daltry and The Hollies each cover the title track
- Cliff Richard covered 'Never Even Thought'
- The Hollies also covered 'When I'm Yours'

- You'd think that 'Say It Ain't So Joe would be the song Head was best known for (not 'One Night In Bangkok'), but then what do I know. Actually, as much as I like the Head original, I'd give the nod to Roger Daltry's cover, which avoided the fey mid-song section found here. Regardless, it was easy to see why Island tapped this one as a single. As for the song's meaning, according to a blurb I found on Head's website, "the was provoked by a seventies documentary on Richard Nixon prior to his resignation. The presenter was asking the editor of a small town newspaper outside Washington, how, in the face of conclusive evidence and proof, his readers could still show such undying support for the president they elected. The editor likens the situation to a scandal in the twenties, when Joe Jackson, the famous baseball player, was rumored to have taken a bribe to sink his team in the final of the World series. His fans hung around the stadium chanting "Say it ain't so Joe". rating: *** star
- As much as I'd like to say something nice about 'Boy On The Bridge' the song irritates me. I certainly enjoyed Bob Weston's lead guitar, but Head's screechy falsetto sent shivers up and down my spine (not shivers of delight). rating: *** star
- A pretty acoustic number with Jim Cregan, Alan Davies and Bob Weston all contributing acoustic guitar), 'Boats Away' actually sounded like an Al Stewart outtake. The vaguely folk-rockish sound and the literate lyrics served to reinforce the comparison. Yes, the steel drums were somewhat unexpected. rating: *** star
- The ballad 'When I'm Yours' was another number that bore a resemblance to Al Stewart. Weston and Head turned in some nifty acoustic guitar and the song was pretty in a television commercial kind of fashion. rating: *** star
- The lone non-original, 'Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat' featured one of those 1930s-styled English Vaudevillian numbers that folks seem to adore (and drive me crazy). Yech !!! rating: * star
- Side two opened up with the album's most commercial number. A tasty rocker, 'She's Such A Drag' actually sounded a little bit like a Marc Bolan number;. Catchy, though not quite glam, the mid-section sounded like something off of a Meatloaf album. rating: **** star
- Another pretty ballad with Cregan, Davies and Weston, providing some classical acoustic guitar 'Never Even Thought' may have sported the prettiest melody. It certainly would have made a nice single. rating: **** star
- Co-written with Bob Weston, 'Silence Is A Strong Reply' was another track that sounded like a cross between Donovan and a Marc Bolan/T-Rex outtake. (Interestingly T-Rex alumnus Micky Finn played rhythm guitar on several other tracks.) Yeah, it had kind of a dated hippy-dippy feel, but I have to admit a fondness for the song. rating: **** star
- An atmospheric. mid-tempo rocker, 'Don't Forget Him Now' was my choice for standout performance. rating: **** star
- A duet with Vicky Brown (who sounded a bit like Minnie Ripperton), 'You're So Tasty' was a catchy ballad, though the steamy lyric probably ensured mid-1970s radio wouldn't ever touch it. For me the highlight came in the form of Bob Weston's lead guitar. rating: *** star

As mentioned above, the title track was tapped as a single:

- 1976's 'Say It Ain't So Joe' b/w 'Don't forget Him Now' (Island catalog number WIP 6252)
- 1976's 'Say It Ain't So Joe' (mono) b/w 'Say It Ain't So Joe' (stereo) (A&M catalog number A&M 1796-S)

Not his best album, but still quite entertaining and worth looking for since you can find it fairly cheap.

"Say It Ain't So" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Say It Ain't So Joe (Murray Head) - 4:36
2.) Boy On The Bridge (Murray Head) - 3:48
3.) Boats Away (Murray Head) - 4:18
4.) When I'm Yours (Murray Head) - 4:04
5.) Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat (Leon Rene - Emerson Scott - Otis Rene) - 2:44

(side 2)
1.) She's Such A Drag (Murray Head) - 4:17
2.) Never Even Thought (Murray Head) - 5:02
3.) Silence Is A Strong Reply (Murray Head - Bob Weston) - 2:49
4.) Don't Forget Him Now (Murray Head) - 4:26
5.) You're So Tasty (Murray Head) - 3:27

For anyone interested, YouTube features a bunch of Head material. Here's a link to a live version of the title track:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nju5K-MaODw&feature=related

Head has a nice website at:

http://murrayhead.net/
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