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Friday, February 3, 2017

Sniff 'n' the Tears - Fickle Heart~, The Game's Up*

Name: Sniff 'n' the Tears
Album(s): Fickle Heart~ The Game's Up*
Year(s): 1979~, 1980*
Style: Rock, Soft Rock, 70's AOR
Similar Bands: Dire Straits, Motors, 10cc, Dave Edmunds, Steve Forbert, Foreigner, Chicago, Ace, Al Stewart
One Word Review: Back Alley Folky Tonk Jams
Based Out Of: London England
Label: Atlantic, Chiswick
 Fickle Heart: Cover, Liner, Record
 Fickle Heart: Back, Liner, Record
The Game's Up - Cover, Liner, Record
The Game's Up - Back, Liner, Record
Fickle Heart (1979)
  1. Driver's Seat 4:00
  2. New Lines On Love 3:40
  3. Carve your Name on My Door 2:33
  4. This Side of The Blue Horizon 4:40
  5. Sing 2:23
  6. Rock N' Roll Music 2:35 /
  7. Fight For Love 3:45
  8. The Thrill of it All 3:37
  9. Slide Away 3:45
  10. Last Dance 1:50
  11. Looking For You 4:20
The Game's Up (1980)
  1. The Game's Up 3:52
  2. Moment of Weakness 3:13
  3. What Can Daddy Do? 3:15
  4. Night Life 3:57
  5. If I Knew Then 4:57 /
  6. One Love 3:20
  7. Five & Zero 4:38
  8. Poison Pen Mail 4:41
  9. Rodeo Drive 6:22
Album Rating (1-10):~5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Jim Nellis - Backing Vox~
Noel McCalla - Backing Vox~* (Moon, Blade & Masquenada Family, Partners in Crime, Paul Carrack, Mike Rutherford, Mezzoforte, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Arthur Louis )
Chris Birkin - Bass~
Andrew Young - Design~
Luigi Salvoni - Drums, Percussion, Producer~ (Moon, Loz Netto's Bzar, McCalla, Snivelling Shits)
Loz Netto - Guitar~ *Backing Vox* (Brian Copsey & The Commotions, Eye Talk)
Mick Dyche - Guitar~* Backing Vox* ( Wild Turkey, McCalla, Maddy Prior Band, Snips)
Alan Fealdman - Keys~ (Jasper, Trifle, FBI, Mome Yamaguchi, McCalla)
Stephen Lipson - Mixing~ Producer, Engineer*
Keith Miller - Synth, String Machine~  (Culture Club, Nick Garvey, Copycats)
Paul Roberts - Vox, Guitar, Composer~* Cover Painting~
Paul Robinson - Drums* (K2, Turning Point, Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion, Intercontinental Express, Turning Point, Art of Noise, Invisible Men, Proclaimers, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Pet Shop Boys)
Richard Bailey - Drums* (Ananda, Batti Mamzelle, Dave Defries Quarter, Gonzalez, Hope Collective, Incognito, The Breakfast Band, Dysfunkshun, Johnny Nash, Jeff Beck)
Richard Marcangelo - Drums* (Cinerama, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The Drivers, Vibraphonic, Ostara, Rumer)
Nick South - Bass* (Time UK, Second Hand, Ellis, Claire Hamill, Blue Goose, Cafe Society, Donovan, Murray Head, Zoot Money, Red, Chimera)
Phil Smee - Design*
Julien 'Jools' Cooper - Engineer Asst*
Nick Tomory - Engineer Asst*
Mike Taylor - Keys* (Renaissance)
Karen Knorr - Photography*
Dominique Durand - Tech Tape Op*
Bud Prager - Management*
Miffy Smith - Moog~
Ron Lawrence - Bass~
Bazza - Mixing~

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. From the looks of the band pictures and album artwork, looks like it will be glammy power pop. To me, the name feels a little embarrassing, but I want to see if the artwork's mood is an interpretation of the music, or if it is just a stylized theme.

Album Review(s): Sniff ‘n’ the Tears was started at drummer Luigi’s request, asking Paul Roberts to join him after hearing promise in some demos they recorded together. Their first track on the first album was a huge success in the US and less so in the UK due to a production error. But Driver Seat kept Roberts in the spot light time, and time again, as it was used in a 1991 Dutch auto commercial, and in 1997’s Boogie Nights. Roberts was the only continuous member throughout the history, even painting the majority of the artwork himself. Although they never found the same success as the first album, Roberts still uses the moniker along with his own solo material to this day.

~“Driver's Seat” was a huge single, reaching #15 in the US. The keyboard and harmonized chorus feel like disco, while the electric guitar is buzzy in the background. The lead vocals are nasally, but in an abrasive way, that feels like they’re sung through a sneer. The song has a disco shuffle tempo, too
“New Lines On Love” has story telling vocals of a typical singer/songwriter, like a more melodic Bob Dylan. The music is dark, shuffling back alley music, and a little jangly. It has the harmonized backing vocals that echo the lead in the chorus.
“Carve Your Name on My Door” begins with the title sang/spoke instrument-free. The song has a southern rock / country sense; honky-tonk rock, perhaps. The vocals sound light and airy, with the same sneer, reminding me of Dave Edmunds and Steve Forbert.
“This Side of the Blue Horizon” is slower, and with the piano in the beginning, is basically a piano ballad with some twang. It is pretty slow and tedious, and the only energetic moments are countrified.
“Sing” is another slinky, back alley bluesy pub song with a shuffle strut.
“Rock N' Roll Music” is decidedly more oldies-style rock and roll. The vocals echo more, as if they are being sung at an indoor pool, and feel like a quiet afterthought. The production falls flat on an otherwise energetic song.

“Fight For Love” begins with an acoustic guitar, and continues down a light groove, reminding me of the little I know of the Grateful Dead. The harmonized chorus punctuate the lyrics in the chorus with the song title.
“The Thrill of it All” takes a jazzy, bluesy tone. It is general 70’s AOR, or dad rock.
“Slide Away” has a bit more electronic, prog rock feel. It is more mystical and spacey. Some of the instrumentation reminds me of Ween hippy jams.
“Last Dance” is a slow folk song, reminding me of Rod McKuen, and a little Dylan with the vocal style. There is only an acoustic guitar for support.
“Looking For You” begins after a cymbal hit, and a slow, methodical jam begins. It gently glides along in a wafty drug dream state.

*“The Game's Up” picks right up where the previous album left off with the specific kind of light 70’s rock. It must be the right mindset to mellow out and listen to this while stoned. It has an organ and other jazzy elements. But the chorus is standard catchy pop.
“Moment of Weakness” is a bit bouncier, and upbeat. And it has minimal, jazzy instrumentation. The verses are sung a bit faster than usual. The song sounds like an 80’s sitcom theme song (Full House).
“What Can Daddy Do?” has a tinge of reggae vibe. It sounds like a cheesy Caribbean all-inclusive resort’s house band.
“Night Life” is a beatnik poem set to incidental sound effects, like a single person performance art monologue. The music kicks in to be a dark, back alley style song for the chorus, but returns to the monologue again for the verse.  The instrumental section is a whining guitar, played upscale to a final scream at the end.
“If I Knew Then” starts with jangly guitar, and sitcom horns, as if from MASH. The bass line is jazzy, but the song is casual and light. There are synth effects used in the song, but they come off like a starter kit, like the synth box was just opened, and the couple of effects used were from the first trial setting. Also, everyone else is using a synth on their hit records, so they wanted to too. It reminded me of the segment music from the science spoof show “Look Around You.”

“One Love” borrows some synth elements, but is mostly a stripped down bluesy lite rock song. In the instrumental section, the electric guitar answers the synth hook in conversation, and they go back and forth. The song ends with a skittering drum and rhythm guitar combo, and fades out.
“Five & Zero” continues with the light, sparse songs, with a reflective tone. There is not much energy to the music; it is basically non-threatening, relaxation rock, almost like a demo of what could be a power pop song.
“Poison Pen Mail” takes another minimal music, folksy spoken lyric route. The organ is the only music in support for a while, but is then added to with a guitar that uses a couple notes as lyrics to the song. This too feels like a fragment, or an unfinished song. More elements are added as the song progresses, and it fills out some, but it feels like a cheap, radio friendly, dumbed down cover of a Tom Waits song.
“Rodeo Drive” starts with a variety of jazzy synth effects, not really finding a melody or cohesion until the swirling and fading synth notes are held, forming melodies and guitars pick up some of the weight. The song is an odd composition, throwing a lot of elements at the walls to see if anything sticks. Not everything works, and it definitely does not all fit together, but for a creative album ending track, it offers inspiration for things that may be investigated on the next album. At its heart, is a jazzy, free-form composition, tidied together by a general vocal melody. The end of the track draws back, and gives the theatrical situation of the listener changing channels while in their car. 

Stand Out Track(s):~ Driver's Seat

about Driver's Seat

1 comment:

  1. I think this is the second time in a few months that I have come across a CD that you then featured the LP on your site-recently picked up "Fickle Heart."

    I'd recalled the band name from back in the day but had no idea they charted as high as you mention. I've never been a huge radio listener, and prior to the 90's I had a very limited music budget, so there was a lot I missed. I did, of course recognize "Driver's Seat" when I played it (always thought the lyric was "Travesty").

    Oh well-there's simply no such thing as too many records!