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Bay City Rollers “Elevator” Reviewed

 

 

Bay City Rollers biggest critical success was in 1979 and the dagger in the heart of their career, where halfwits like Trouser Press were comparing their seventh album Elevator with Rubber Soul, Clive Davis was bailing and waffling and the album sounded like Yacht Rock gets too damn clever for its own good:  it is alright but the year is long considered one of the best of all time (1979 is to pop music what 1939 is to the movies) and while Elevator isn’t bad, it isn’t All Mod Cons (November, 1978) either. The truth is BCR were a great boy band bubblegum group who tried to grow up and couldn’t do it, and the reason, at least as far as Elevator is concerned, they were good enough with a successful rock band but not for one on its last legs. FM wouldn’t play them, AM wouldn’t play them, Bay City Rollers were the lost boys. And an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres of its time, The Merv Griffin Show, didn’t move the needle in the slightest.

First of the lost boys were the “Bay City” part  -contracting the band name to Rollers  was such a terrible idea it beggars the imagination, whether they were hot or not UNDOUBTEDLY they were a known entity, next was losing the great Les McKeown with the vastly less accomplished Australian Duncan Faure. Finally, without a record company behind them, they couldn’t get attention and neither of the singles, “Turn on The Radio” and “Hello And Welcome Home,” were anyone else’s first choice. we can see why at least one of them were chosen (though mentioning the radio didn’t help), “Hello” co-written by Eric Faulkner and the new kid, is a touch iffy rock ballad. The choice should have been “Playing In A Rock N Roll Band” but that was a solo Duncan so you can guess as to one reason it wasn’t chosen.

After Strangers In The Wind (here) failed to turn them into Air Supply, they might have looked for the sweet spot the Monkees found circa Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones Ltd,  instead they ignored their fanbase and instead reinvented themselves (again) as a Cheap Trick going proggy, and while it is interesting, it isn’t fun enough for their audience. Though musically Woody was a Brian Jones like character, adding shadings with his moog, Duncan didn’t have the necessary character for a boy band and Eric wouldn’t give into his baser instincts and try for a bubblegum hit.

The truth is, the band were nondescript, ripped of everything that made them the band they were, they couldn’t manage to right themselves and anybody dumb enough to compare “Stoned Houses II” to “In My Life” deserves to be sneered out, and even the critical acclaim was a little stupid. “Stoned # 2” has a painful, overlong coda and nothing about it makes it worth your while. If the world wanted the Bay City Rollers they didn’t get it and while, thank God, they didn’t get Air Supply either, they sounded dated anyway, “Turn On The Radio” was clearly influenced by mid-period The Who but mid-period The Who were also out of time. Too clever for punk, too old fashioned for New Wave, in retrospect it was mismanagement and indifference leaving Eric and Woody to rule the band, the Longmuir brothers as the rhythm section were roleplayers and a new lead singer while cute enough wasn’t :es, and altogether it is a maxed out mix without charisma.  Eric grew a mustache, and the band came across live with a three guitar and bass attack. Nothing helped.

This was it for the Rollers, there would be one more Arista album and they would be adrift on their way to nostalgia.

Grade: B-

 

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