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Friday, January 2, 2015

Paul Young & Street Band - London Dilemma

Name: Paul Young & Street Band
Album: London Dilemma
Year: 1985 (1979-1978)
Style: Pub Rock, Power Pop, some Disco
Similar Bands: Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Walter Egan, Dave Edmunds, Dire Straits, Steve Forbert, (disco) Bee Gees, Supertramp, Airwaves
"One-Word" Review: Power Pub Disco
Based Out Of: Luton, UK
Label: Complete Records, PolyGram, Logo
 London Dilemma - Cover & Back
London Dilemma - Inner Gate Fold
London Dilemma (1985)
  1. Mirror Star 4:35
  2. It's No Problem 5:12
  3. Picture Book 4:35
  4. Starry Eyed 3:31
  5. Dilemma 7:07 /
  6. One Good Reason 5:09
  7. Here Comes that Man 5:45
  8. Call Me Soon 5:24
  9. Slaughterhouse Five 7:11
  10. Hold On 3:34 /
  11. You're All I Need 3:58
  12. Happy Families 4:00
  13. Truth Without Lies 3:25
  14. Things Are Never Quite What They Seem 3:36
  15. It Takes a Thief 3:42
  16. Toast 4:30 /
  17. One More Step 3:19
  18. Any Decisions 3:52
  19. Mystery 4:35
  20. His Finest Hour 3:53
  21. Love Sign 4:28
  22. Loud Music 2:52
Album Rating (1-10): London (1978) 8.5
Dilemma (1979) 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Young - Vox, Harmonica, Percussion, Keys (Q-Tips, Kat Kool & the Kool Cats, Los Pacaminos)
Chaz Jankel - Guitar, Keys, Producer (Ian Druy & The Blockheads, Byzantium, Jonathan Kelly's Outside, Kilburn & The High Roads, Pure Gold, The Secret Police)
Jools Holland - Guitar, Keys (Squeeze, Eddie & The Hot Rods,The Count Bishops, Roger Waters, Fine Young Cannibals )
Trevor Rabin - Guitar, Keys (Dsco Rock Machine, Freedom's Children, Hot R.S., Rabbitt, The Tee Cee's, Yes)
Ken Kim - Art Direction, Album Graphics
Mick Pearl - Bass, Vox (Q-Tips)
Jon Tiven - Compiler, Liner Notes
Chaulkie - Drums, Percussion, Glockenspeil (Mr. Big)
John Rollo - Engineer
Roger Kelly - Lead Guitar, Percussion, Vox, Producer (Starry Eyed and Laughing)
Randy Kling - Mastering
John Gifford - Producer, Guitar (Q-Tips)

Unknown-ness: So I have never heard of Paul Youn & The Street Band. The pink toned photo of Paul on the cover would seem to note some energy in the songs, and the band picture also on the front and in the gate fold, looks like they might be some sort of New Wave band. I am also drawn to the idea that this will be some sort of singer songwriter Bruce Springsteen style band, but that is just because this band follows the same Bruce & E-Street Band formula.

Album Review: So Paul had two major genre periods in his career, with his second, lighter pop side gathering more popularity, with the height being his song “Every time I Go Away” (at least here in the states). This is part of the New Wave Pop/Rock genre similar to Squeeze. This double LP is a compilation of all the Streetband material recorded. The title “Paul Young & the” was added for name recognition in the wake of Young’s popularity as a solo artist. The band was made up of people from Squeeze, Ian Dury & The Blockheads and Yes.

“Mirror Star” begins with power pop guitars and a chugging bass line. The vocals are like a more reigned in Rod Stewart. The chorus has a backing harmonic choir. There is a steady energy to the song, even with the soaring guitar filled instrumental, it never tires nor gets out of line. The song pleas for the listeners to pump up the volume when he comes on the radio. The song does go on for a little too long to be a pop single, as it changes up the melody toward the end with a pounding ending that fades out.
“It's No Problem” fades in and out, sounding like Who Are You. The vocals are punctuated by power guitar chords and drum beats. The song combines the elements, but never really gathers full momentum. The end finally grows to some intensity, as the song drives into the instrumental, which lets up on the gas a bit. After cycling through the lighter sections, the song finishes with the power section.
“Picture Book” is bouncy with nervous energy, and the lead guitar is single held power pop notes. The chorus has a very fun playful, jittery melody, which contrasts with the smoothly sung verse. Two minutes in, and this would be a complete song. It continues to soldier on, with a guitar heavy instrumental bridge, bringing us back to another verse. It is a fun rollercoaster of a melody to follow along with.
“Starry Eyed’s” pounding drums and power chords at the outset converge together after a pause to form an anthemic and dreamy pop song, with little elements of Queen/Bee Gees harmonies thrown in. There are still power squeals of guitars throughout the song, but this could have been recorded for Young in his lighter second half career. The song finishes out as if the record is skipping, repeating the title over and over.
“Dilemma” begins with a keyboard, and it immediately feels like Jools Holland’s influence. It is cartoony, and repetitive. After a minute, the watery rhythm guitar meats with an angular bass line, and the bouncy pop song truly begins. The 3 minute mark features a dreamy breakdown with dueling acoustic guitar plucked notes and chords. The soaring guitar solo comes in to replace the singular notes, and the tempo stops abruptly to revert back to the head banging single chord play like an alarm. The song comes full circle, and decides to end with an extended instrumental of the dreamy songscape, punctuated with the computerized keyboards at the end.

“One Good Reason” begins with a disco beat and bass line. And the Bee Gees influence is felt strongly here between the drum beat and the harmonized, layered vocals. It is repetitive and dancey, and not even the echoing electric guitar cant zip up the jump suit’s revealing chest hair line.  Like most of the songs, this one goes on for at least a minute too long too, losing attention with the guitar solo.
“Here Comes that Man” continues the disco vibe with stings setting the vibe in the background and wah-wah guitars. A marching, building drum lead bridge leads us to a flat disco chorus. I forgot I was listening to the song for a bit there, as a long, drawn out guitar solo comes in to again try to out play the disco back beat, and it succeeds for part of the time, until the bass, keys, and drums change tempo in the background. Eventually the production team gives up and just fade the song out
“Call Me Soon” is not quite disco, but it is a light, dreamy, mystical lullaby. The chorus of “It’s Not Tonight” is smooth and harmonized, but is not all that interesting. An angelic chorus ends the song with church bells and scattered guitar playing, which carries on for quite a while until it stops abruptly.
“Slaughterhouse Five” begins quietly with vocals and piano. It reminds me of a Ben Folds Ballad. Power guitar chords kick in, and the song takes on a new age/prog feel with the vocal melody maintained. Suddenly momentum shifts to the bass and rhythm guitar, and it becomes a bouncy piano driven . Like a Brand X, the style shifts to acid jazz fusion with the bass and drums pounding in different directions, and the lead electric guitar trying to guide the way. The funky interplay ends, and a driving power rock section takes over. This is a very theatrical song, with its changing themes, intensities and genres.  And with an eventual fade out, it ends. This is where the Dilemma album ends too.
“Hold On” feels like a little like No Matter What with the first couple of notes. Then a synthesized whoa-whoa guitar counts out the rolling melody. There is a nice La La La supporting chorus for a couple of sections, and a bunch of catchy bits strung together. This is a non-album single

“You're All I Need” begins their first album, 1978’s London. The song fades up with some arcade effects and a nice Bee Gees esq harmonized verse chugs along, asserting its Bee-Gees-i-ness with the held note chorus. The power pop guitar is not as bold as the second album, but it is crisper and simpler, which translates to being more effective. But the main catchy part of the song is the Squeeze “Another Nail In My Hear” like bass line.
“Happy Families” has a jangly guitar loop over a steady bass and driving drums. The vocals are polite and smooth. The vocals (which are for the first time, very British sounding) to instrument call and response interactions create a playful chorus.
“Truth Without Lies” feels like a sitcom theme song in the beginning with the slow changing guitar chords. The song gains momentum, and follows a power pop chord pattern. The vocals gain emotion as they progress, reminding me a little of The Who.
“Things Are Never Quite What They Seem” transitioned pretty smoothly from the prior song, and takes a laid back, breezy, jazzy tone. It has a delicate bouncy tone, and skates along a smooth jazz musak blended with Van Morrison “Moondance” tightrope.
“It Takes a Thief” drives in right away with power chords and rhythm guitar. The vocals are excited in a short time we are smacked in the face with the release of the chorus, reminding me a little of song structure from Bram Tchaikovsky. The song is not bad, but it lacks an authentic energy and needs a little more focus. By the time it gains the needed energy, it feeds it into the lead guitar, and the vocals are buried underneath.
“Toast” was a b-side to Hold On, which received more airplay by DJ’s and ended up being a jokey hit. It starts with a wood block skatting drum beat with vocals spoken overtop. A jangly guitar is added next, followed by a bass line, and the words still speak about making toast. The vocals become a rap, reminding me a little of Difford’s style. The rapping words are spoken matter of factly, right into your ear, as if the singer is sitting right next to you. And all on topic of things related to toast. It builds to a nice place and is light, airy and delight. It is a little Monty Pythonishin its absurdity and amount of time allotted to one silly topic. Even the presentation, has a little jazzy skatting vocally. The song could have very well ended at the 2:45 mark, but it continues on for another minute forty-five of more toast related storytelling, including spreading sound effects and atomic housewife humming. The utterances of “Toast!” and the energetic bass line keep this song going, and keep it from wearing out its welcome. And it ends with the cops arriving for the toast is eaten  

“One More Step” starts out as a fun bouncy powerpop rock song. I am taken slightly out of character, like a Mellencamp Middle American tune. But by the time the chorus rolls around, the vibe changes direction back to Squeeze. From the second chorus, the song builds very nicely into the instrumental breakdown, which transition into a wonderful new rapid section that slips right back into the catchy chorus hook.
“Any Decisions” carries the Squeeze like vibe along strong with this song. It starts fun and bouncy, which settles into a dragging bit that is useful to build momentum. The tone shifts slightly to the bridge, that features and lots of effects twinkle which leads right into a total Squeeze chorus.
“Mystery” starts with a bit of dialogue, then a ringing guitar and a scream. The familiar mysterious bass and drum beat from film is added for effect, and the backwards Squeeze harmonized melodies are used, and the build of the bridge is good, but they lose sight of the song, adding too much camp with a slow suspenseful breakdown. It is very theatrical/musical, adding more vocal samples over the eerily breakdown, and it reminds me a little of Split Enz. It breaks out to come back to the verse for one final run through the now familiar melody. And it ends with more dialogue
“His Finest Hour” continues with the cinematic feel of a song, with a building, melody and a slew of extraneous flourishes and musical ideas injected. Granted it comes off as a well-crafted song, and they don’t strip away from the song, but they make the track very dense. The melody in the breakdown is interesting because it is not predictable in its melodic sense. There was a lot more creativity in the band for this album that their second, and even more than what is on the first half of this record.
“Love Sign” cuts back to the smoky nighttime jazz city street of a loungy smooth jazz track. Quite a change of direction, because at the chorus, there are elements of rhythm guitar Disco and a dancefloor bass beat. The keyboard sound that adds to the smooth jazz element is quite dated.
“Loud Music” ends this compilation album, as their first record. With the first pounding notes and guitar riffs, I’m reminded of XTC. But the vocals and production from there are not as catchy or simple. The chorus, however, is extremely catchy, in a surprising rolling two part melody. As the momentum builds, the song explodes, noted with a literal explosion to end the record. 

Stand Out Track: Dilemma: Picture Book
London: Any Decision, One More Step, Loud Music

LONDON - Full Album
DILEMMA - Full Album

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