British singer-songwriter David Courtney's first break in the music business came in the 60's when he was hired to be a member of ex-British teen idol Adam Faith's backing band. However, by the onset of the 70's Courtney had turned his attention towards becoming a self confessed talent 'guru' and one of his first discoveries, singer Gerry Sayer (aka Leo Sayer) went on to become a successful solo artist in the mid 70's and early 80's. As the creative partnership between Sayer and Courtney blossomed, The Who's vocalist Roger Daltrey took notice and enlisted the two to write his debut solo effort in 1973. As Sayer's career took off and his first two albums rose up the charts in the U.K. and with America beckoning, Courtney decided the time was right to record an album of his own. First Day arrived in the fall of 1975 and while the album failed to make much of an impact on either side of the Atlantic it remains a testament to his supreme talents as both a musician and a songwriter.
This snazzy looking re-issue from Angel Air Records marks the first time First Day has been released on CD and it contains no less than seven bonus tracks from the original album sessions. Stylistically varied the album contains sweeping orchestral arrangements on "Silverbird", the gorgeous Beach Boy-esque vocal melodies running through "Don't Look Know", as well as a distinctly theatrical element on songs like "Stranded" and "Take This Mask Away", a song written about Leo's then onstage clown alter-ego. Some of the guest artists who appear here represent the cream of the crop of British classic rock. Pedal steel guitar legend B.J. Cole drops by, as does Albert Lee and ex- Argent member Russ Ballard, not to mention Pink Floyd's David Gilmour who lays down some of his signature guitar licks on the albums closing track "When Your Life Is Your Own".
First Day is a top notch effort from top to bottom and made all the more special by the aforementioned bonus tracks which due to time constraints could not be included on the original vinyl release. As if the original album didn't offer enough variety the bonus tracks demonstrate just how much more eclectic First Day could have sounded had these tracks not been relegated to the cutting room floor. "Think It Over" is a relatively straight ahead rocker, but it's the stunning orchestral arrangement and sparkling piano playing on the instrumental "Broken Leaves" that in my opinion really stands out as the high water mark for him as both a composer and arranger. The splendid jazzy, almost ragtime feel on "Lazy Old Moon" and "Dreaming" make these extra tracks feel like a natural extension of the album, so kudos to him for digging these long lost treasures out of the archives.
Although his solo career never took off (he ended up recording two more albums over the years that remain unreleased) why an artist with such an unlimited amount of talent as David Courtney possesses, was never able to find a niche market or achieve some sort of mainstream success over the years is beyond me. However, the good news is you can now experience this wonderful album either again or for the very first time through this excellent re-issue.
Note: David has a new album available as well entitled The Show Must Go On which can be purchased here www.theshowmust.com
2) Don't Look Know
3) Everybody Needs A Little Loving
5) It's Oil For You
6) Life Is So They Say
7) My Mind
8) Don't Let The Photos Fool You
9) You Ain't Got Me
10) Take This Mask Away
11) If You Wanna Dance
12) When Your Life Is Your Own
13) Broken Leaves (Bonus Track)
14) Rag And Bone (Bonus Track)
15) Lazy Old Moon (Bonus Track)
16) The Road (Bonus Track)
17) Dreaming (Bonus Track)
18) Think It Over (Bonus Track)
19) Silverbird- reprise (Bonus Track)