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Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:59 am
by boydie
Last weekend I got all of my CB vinyl records back from a mate and have been listening to them. In my opinion the first 2 albums stand head and shoulders above the rest. Why do I say that? Well I saw them live back in the mid 70's a couple of times in Plymouth UK and was struck by their razor sharp playing, great harmonies and their briiliant stage presence - and their sense of fun. The first album represented them perfectly with its strong songs and harmonies and that fun element. DATR I was aware of some of the tracks as thay previewed some of them live and you don't forget songs like Momma's Boy and Narcissus once you've heard them live - so the album was a killer from the first play.

I really thought CB would go on to huge success depending on them delivering the 'sucker punch' of a third album - so awaited the new release with huge expectations....but YMGW was a MASSIVE disappointment to me. It was all over the place - like several different bands and some of the songs veered towards treakley MOR fodder - She's Got Style/I've Been Spun/Honeymooners - jeez, this was about as far away from Sunset Boulevard and Walk On The Water as it is possible to get! I can still remember sitting for hours in my bedroom listening to it waiting for something to happen - but it never did. Sure some of the songs were good - Bordello Nights and The Man Who Ate His Car and the title track I liked a bit but I think this third album was a big mistake and a missed opportunity.

So when 5705 was a hit I was pleased cos it was a good pop song but I didn't like the vocals and could sense that the new 'singing drummer' (it never feels right) might upset the balance in the band - Lol and Steve were great vocalists and front men - the band didn't need a 'rawk' singer like Roy Ward - this for me signalled the beginning of the end of CB as I knew and loved them. Book Early was a good record I thought - some strong songs - Summer In The Schoolyard and World Loves a Dancer in particular - but some duffers - Do What You Do Do Well - jeez...

THDTECF was a BIG album - clearly it was meant to be the one to break them in the States - but listening to it now the band is splitting in different directions - pop/hard rock/prog - it doesn't hold together as a whole despite some strong tracks (Ambition/Interrupted Melody) and Roy Ward's vocals really grate on me - the sense of fun and adventure by this time had dissipated. I wasn't surprised when Steve and Chris departed but I was hugely disappointed. The next record HAR has some good tracks but pretty meh overall and the same with IP.

So for me CB never really fulfilled the expectations of the first 2 albums and made 2 big mistakes - the 3rd album and Roy Ward joining. It could have been so different but we are lucky to still have these albums and the fact that we still discuss them all these years later says something about their talent and legacy. I don't expect anyone to agree with me btw - it's all about opinions right?

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:23 am
by cockatootoo
Couldn’t disagree with you more I suppose. I think the albums got stronger with each successive one up to TDTECF. YMGW is still one of my favorite albums (not just City Boy albums). I really like the genre hopping (ala bands like 10cc and Queen at the same time period). YMGW was my introduction to the band and I am sure point of entry can make a huge difference in perception of any given album.

To be honest, if I had heard the debut first I’m not sure I would have actually eagerly anticipated the next release. It’s a decent album (and real good by other bands standards!) but kinda ragged and one dimensional compared to the next few albums (IMO). I still like the sprawling nature of some of the longer songs and overall it certainly is a very enjoyable album. DATR was a definite step up.

I also think Roy was a great addition. If only for his awesome drumming! But I also think he added a nice dimension to the great vocals of Lol and Steve. He definitely had (has??) a more typical hard rock voice.

TDTECF is an exceptional prog album and is also one of my all-time favorite albums! HAR was a play toward commerciality IMO but it works as such in a great way – and still retains much of what makes CB phenomenal.

One of the ultimate beauties of this band is their varied catalog of music. It’s natural that some will like one style over another, but to me, the eclecticism is what makes them awesome… along with great musicianship, cool lyrics, singing and arrangements :D

thanks for opening up a discussion here! I'm sure all this ahs been hashed out before (ad nauseum...) but it's fun to have something to say again. plus I don't remember old conversations :roll:

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:14 am
I'm sort of comprimising with the two posters before. My CB chronology starts with BE and then I achieved the subsequent three albums before updating with the first three ones. So to me, the vocals of Roy has always felt as natural for the CB sound as when Lol or Steve is singing.

I'm not sure I had become a fan if I had heard CB or YMGW first. In fact, I am that biased of my point of entry, I even like IP better than those two albums! :P

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:06 pm
by Robin_Shadowes
It all started for me hearing two songs on swedish radio. I still remember it was Hapkido Kid and Sunset Boulevard. I liked what I heard and soon after bought the album. It must have been in 1976 because there was just one album out at the time. The second album I heard for the first time at Christian's place. It blew me away and I bought it soon after. So the two first albums will always have a special place in my heart. Compared to those the third album was more easy listening. But it still have some good material on it. I was mostly disappointed that Mr Kent was no longer with them. I don't mind BE, TDTECF or HAR. There are good songs on all of them. The only album I didn't like was IP and it is only in later years I've given it a second chance and a bit of change of heart. Although I still view it as the weakest album in the catalogue, I no longer think it is as bad as I first thought all those years ago. That was my two cents on the matter. Take it for what it is.

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 4:02 am
by alhambra
Re-Appraising CB -- that is exactly what I do every time I get around to listen to them again (usually there is a couple of year between the periods). And every time I get a little surprised that my own hyping of the band actually is well-grounded. In my childhood, TDTECF and HAR, copied from my uncle's cassettes, was often played by me and my brother. Not until my late teens did I discover the remaining albums. Perhaps because of this, I probably appreciate HAR proportionally more than most CB fans, but it is really very hard to pick a favorite, and even a least favorite (even if IP is a strong candidate).

If something has changed during the 16 years of listening to the total catalogue, it is probably that I have come to agree a little with Matt. I had some problems with YMGW in the beginning, but I appreciate the uniqueness of the band that comes through especially good on this album, more and more. I still love Slamer's work on TDTECF and the progressive influences on the first two albums, and CB definitely has a unique sound all the way, but the greatness just is not of such a unique kind as that displayed especially well on YMGW, as on the other albums, if you see what I mean. At least not in terms of whole albums.

Anyway, merry christmas and a happy new year!

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:46 pm
by Max Thomas
Wow, I've just read the contributions to the re-appraising CB topic, and they are truly fascinating! And then I noticed that there are currently 11 people online at the moment... So, who's out there? It's 44 past midnight here in the UK. Where are you all?! Talk to me! Now, while we're online!

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:57 pm
by Robin_Shadowes
I have noticed that nowadays most of the albums are available on YouTube. Usually it was only separate songs. While it is common for full albums since a few years back, CB has for some reason not been among them. So far I have only listened to DATR. It has been ripped from vinyl and I'm okay with that. The only thing that bugged me was that it started with side 2. I've had the album since 1976 so I find it very annoying. DATR should always start with Momma's boy and end with State Secrets. Period! Anyway, welcome back, Max. Long time, no see. :)

Re: Re-Appraising CB

Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:20 am
by boydie
Hi Max - well I guess you've gone again by now and won't be back for a while!

A belated thanks for a cassette that you sent to me in the 80's with IP on it and a live recording. It was in response to a letter I wrote to Zomba publishing enquiring about the whereabouts of City Boy.

I have lost that cassette and I'm trying to remember the live recording - I think it may have been the Bottom Line in New York?

Hope you are well and that you have some good news to give us about future activity!?