Saturday, 11 February 2012

Starry Eyed & Laughing (1974-1977)

London buskers Tony Poole and Ross McGeeney formed Starry Eyed and Laughing in the early seventies, initially playing pubs as a folk duo before adding bass player Steve Hall and drummer Nick Brown into the fold in 1973.  Now a full band, they began gigging around London and their Byrdsy sound grabbed the attention of the music press, resulting in some glowing reviews.  

The band were signed by CBS records in early 1974 and recorded their eponymously titled, debut album in August.  'Starry Eyed & Laughing' was released in October, a week after their first Single, 'Money Is No Friend Of Mine' b/w 'I See Your Face'.  

The album captures the sound of the Byrds at their best and immediately wears it's influences on its sleeve starting off with the McGeeny penned 'Going Down' with its thee part vocal harmonies, driving bass and Eight Miles High-alike guitar solo.  The Byrds theme continues throughout the entire record with 'Closer To You Now' sounding very much like 'Going Back' and you'd be forgiven for thinking that Roger McGuinn was singing the lead on 'Money Is No Friend Of Mine'.  'Living In London' sees the band shifting up a gear into Badfinger territory.  If nice harmonies and sparkling guitar is your bag then I have no doubt that you'll love this album as much as I do.

CBS released a new recoding of album track 'Nobody Home' as a single in early '75 backed with 'Closer To You Now'.  None of the releases so far had made much of a mark on the UK pop chart but CBS kept the band on for another album. 'Though Talk' was released in September 1975.  Slightly heavier than the first album with the Byrds influence remaining in places, it's not as catchy as its predecessor but after repeated listens can be a grower.  For me, stand out track 'One Foot In The Boat' takes 'Chestnut Mare' and sticks on some better lyrics! 

Two more singles were released under the shortened name 'Starry Eyed', 'Song On The Radio', produced by ex-Turtles, Flo and Eddie heads in a funkier direction complete with orchestral section over seen by Shadow Tony Meehan. 'Saturday' recalls the sound of their debut LP and sees the band calling it a day in style.  CBS dropped the band after 'Saturday' and they consequently split up, as is usually the case.

If Byrds fans weren't happy with the lack of jangle in the band's reunion of original members back in '72, then Starry Eyed should hit the spot with Poole stealing McGuinn's crown as new king of the 12 string! Some ace clips of the band performing live around the time of the first album can bee seen on YouTube and show what a great live act they were and what fantastic heads of hair they had.