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Kid In a Big World

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Album Review

John Howard's rare mid-'70s album is a modest, quirkily British, singer/songwriter effort. There's a lot of similarity to Elton John's early-to-mid-'70s work, in the combination of pop melodies with finely wrought lyricism, and occasional theatricalism, the mid-tempo keyboard base, and Howard's vocals, which can leap from mid-range to Beach Boys-influenced (or is it Elton John-influenced?) falsetto. He's given to oddly sad, knowing observational pieces, like the resigned jauntiness of a town going about its business as a girl commits suicide by walking into the ocean ("Goodbye Suzie"), a "Family Man" who cheats on his homely wife in a wholesome sort of fashion, and the epic-toned orchestrated title cut. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," with weird synth swoops by Rod Argent, is a relative standout that switches from almost Al Stewart-sounding suave verses, to more boisterous, highly Elton John-ish choruses. It being the mid-'70s, perhaps there are tinges of David Bowie's most pop-oriented stuff, and maybe a less commercial Leo Sayer. All this might be making the album sound more interesting than it is; it doesn't have the flagpole hooks of Elton John, and is ultimately not nearly as memorable, though it's humbler and less slick than the likes of John or Sayer. The 2003 CD reissue on RPM adds seven bonus cuts, including the jazzy, 1974 B-side "Third Man," an alternate mix of "Goodbye Suzie," and some 1973 outtakes and demos (three of them with only piano accompaniment).

Biography

Genre: Pop

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

John Howard made an obscure British singer/songwriter album in the mid-'70s, Kid in a Big World which, like several efforts from that period, showed the heavy influence of then newly emergent superstar Elton John. Howard was lower-key and more inclined toward eccentric story-songs, and not as gifted with a flair for chart hooks, though he too had...
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Kid In a Big World, John Howard
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