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City Boy: Young Men Gone West/Book Early

Following on from the double disc reissue of the self titled City Boy debut and Dinner At The Ritz, Lemon/Cherry Red continue with a double discer of Young Men Gone West and Book Early the latter of which contains the City Boy hit "5.7.0.5". As with it's counterpart, these albums are re-mastered from the original tapes and arrive as the first official time these releases have seen the light of day CD.

Having hit a creative high with Dinner At The Ritz, Young Men Gone West landed in 1977 and continued unabashed down the same path. Pop hooks from a 10CC style are married to a rockier outlook and the odd sprinkling of prog - an English Styx, if you will. Also staying true to the formula, Robert John "Mutt" Lange found himself behind the production chair (as he did for 1978's Book Early) and along with a talented band of writers, his arranging and sound skills create a collection of songs which bound from sound to sound, via a cohesive framework. This time "Millionaire" and its quirky melody take honours as the stand out moment, a little bit of Bowie added to an almost ELO swoosh of atmosphere. It's dramatic stuff and closely followed by the likes of "Bordello Night" and the wonderfully titled "The Man Who Ate His Car" in the quality stakes. Young Men would also be notable for the first line-up change in the band, drummer Roger Kent, at Lange's "suggestion", being replaced by the uncredited Tony Braunagel, who joined the already established Broughton, Slamer, Mason, Dunn, Thomas quintet.

A year later and still in search of a true breakthrough and this time with Roy Ward behind the kit, Book Early was released. It was a similar formula once again, mixing pop nous with proggy slaps and arranging of the highest order. Initially the album was preceded by a single in Germany and Holland; "Turn On To Jesus" (included here as a bonus cut alongside B-side "Medicine"). However with the BBC desperate to playlist the song, but afraid of its religious/sexual overtones, they requested a lyric change. The band, desperate for more public exposure happily complied, but surprisingly with new drummer Ward singing the words to the renamed "5.7.0.5" (as he did the Tight Fit hit cover "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the 80s!) and not as you would have expected, lead singers, Mason or Broughton. It was an inspired move, the song receiving the promised air time and reaching number 8 in the UK charts and 27 in the US. Hopes were high that Book Early would also be received as favourably and while, once more, the critics raved, sales didn't follow. However with "Goodbye Laurelle", "Summer In The Schoolyard", "What A Night" and "Moving In Circles" all hitting eclectic heights, the album itself was and still is, an excellent mix of exactly what was breaking the charts and making stars in the 70s. Why the public didn't agree, is still a mystery.

Not too surprisingly the writing was beginning to appear on the wall for City Boy, album number five, The Day The Earth Caught Fire, the last for the core quintet and Ward, before Broughton and Dunn would depart (or be "voted out", the band don't quite agree even now in the excellent Malcolm Dome liner notes…). The remaining four would release Heads Are Rolling in 1980 and It's Personal in '81, before City Boy eventually called it a day (most notably Slamer would move on to Streets with Steve Walsh of Kansas and then Seventh Key with Billy Greer of Streets), leaving fans and critics scratching their heads as to why they couldn't quite break into the big time when everything seemed in their favour. Even now, looking back, it's hard to understand why a band with two (and then three) excellent vocalists, a hugely respected guitarist, a producer who would go on to be one of the best the rock world would see and a clutch of cracking tunes, never captured the wider public's imagination.

However this and the double disc City Boy/Dinner At The Ritz, are a fitting reminder of just how good City Boy were and just how successful they should have been…


Track Listing
DISC 1
1. Bordello Night
2. Dear Jean (I'm Nervous)
3. Honeymooners
4. She's Got Style
5. Bad For Business
6. Young Men Gone West
7. I've Been Spun
8. One After Two
9. Runaround
10. Man Who Ate His Car
11. The Millionaire


DISC 2
1. 5.7.0.5.
2. Summer In The Schoolyard
3. Goodbye Laurelie
4. Raise Your Glass (To Foolish Me)
5. Cigarettes
6. What A Night
7. Do What You Do, Do Well
8. World Loves A Dancer
9. Beth
10. Moving In Circles
11. Dangerous Ground
BONUS TRACKS
12. Medicine
13. Turn On To Jesus

Added: August 4th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Young Men Gone West/Book Early at Cherry Red
Hits: 1550
Language: english

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