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Album Review

Leo Sayer's debut album introduced a singer/songwriter (actually he wrote just the lyrics; David Courtney did the music) of some talent, though not remarkable talent. The production screams 1973, with its mainstream pop and hard rock beds and some overlays of symphonic strings, and Sayer sometimes strongly echoes Elton John's early-'70s work, with some hints of David Bowie as well. He didn't have the monster hooks of Elton John and certainly not the quirky originality and edgy experimentalism of Bowie, but actually this is a better album than many would remember. For one thing, Sayer was a good, versatile singer with an impressive range and an ability to summon the lung power and also go wispy and tender (as he does at various points within a single track, as on "Goodnight Old Friend"). Certainly the album is most remembered for "The Show Must Go On," which gave Sayer his first British hit, though Three Dog Night had the smash with it when they covered it for the American market; Sayer's version is less ham-handed and more idiosyncratic, particularly in the extended instrumental circus intro. He usually played the part of the sympathetic, slightly confessional singer/songwriter, with a more straightforward keyboard-dominated rock base than many soft rock confessional singer/songwriters had, sometimes tilting toward one side more than the other. "The Dancer," for instance, is a wistful piano ballad with impressive near-soprano singing, while the far less impressive "Oh Wot a Life" is an awkward attempt at throat-stretching party rock. [The 2002 CD reissue on Cherry Red adds "Living in America," the A-side of the sole single by his pre-solo career group, Patches, and "Quicksand," an early solo Sayer non-LP B-side; both of these are harder-charging mainstream rock than his usual stuff. There's also a 17-minute spoken word cut in which Sayer and co-writer Courtney talk about Sayer's early recordings, playing some excerpts from early solo piano demos.]


Born: 21 May 1948 in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Leo Sayer (born Gerard Sayer) had a string of highly polished mainstream pop hits in the late '70s. Sayer began his musical career as the leader of the London-based Terraplane Blues Band in the late '60s. He formed Patches with drummer Dave Courtney in 1971; Courtney used to play with British pop star Adam Faith. Faith was beginning a management career in the early '70s, so Courtney brought Patches to his former employer in hopes of securing a contract. Patches failed to impress Faith, yet he liked...
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Silverbird, Leo Sayer
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