Slapping an album with a Beatles comparison is usually the equivalent of an artistic and commercial kiss of death.
Luckily, this was one of those rare cases where the comparison actually had some basis.
Recorded at Philadelphia International's Philly-based Sigma Studios, 1972's "Sleepy Hollow" was co-produced by John Madara and the late Tom Sellers (of Assembled Multitude fame).
The limited liner notes indicated Sleepy Hollow was a trio featuring the talents of singer/guitarist Richard Billay, bass player Richie Bremen and drummer Joe Zucca.
With Billay responsible for all nine tracks, material like 'One Time' and 'Lay It On the Line' did have a late-inning Beatles flavor, though to my ears a better overall comparison would be Badfinger ('Take Me Back'), Emmit Rhodes ('Love Minus You'), or perhaps even a mid-1970s Lennon solo album ('Lady').
The trio's sound wasn't particularly original, but Billay had an impressive chameleon-like voice that managed to recall both Lennon's tougher sound ('Sincerely Yours' would not have been out of place on "Walls and Bridges") and McCartney's more pop-oriented material ('One Time' complete with great backing vocals).
Artistically this may not have been a major statement, but made for one fun album and was simply miles ahead of most of the Beatlesque competition.
- An engaging mid-tempo rocker, "Sincerely Yours" sported an early solo John Lennon sound.
Say what you will about the album's lack of originality, but on this one Billay nailed Lennon right down to his take-no-prisoners snarling delivery.
- The up-tempo "One Time" sounded like something pulled off an early Badfinger album.
Extremely commercial and radio ready, if would have made a nice single.
- Another radio friendly effort, the ballad "Take Me Back" sounded like Badfinger channeling Paul McCartney.
Billay even managed to mimic the Badfinger harmony vocals and Pete Ham's instantly recognizable slide guitar sound.
- Kicked along by a nice slide guitar, "Talking Out Of Turn" was a straightforward rocker that momentarily managed to breakaway from the Beatles/Badfinger influences.
One of my favorite performances.
- Another pretty ballad, "Lay It On The Line" showcased Billay's best McCartney impression.
If you like McCartney, you'll like this one.
If you think he's shallow and saccharine, then stay away.
- "Love Minus You" started out side two with an Emmit Rhodes-does-McCartney pop number.
The results were extremely catchy, but likely to put some folks into a diabetic coma.
Bremen turned in some great bass work on this one.
- The first real disappointment, "Lady" was a pretty, but instantly forgettable ballad.
Imagine something lifted off of an early Eric Carmen solo album ...
- Complete with punchy horns the rocker "Roller Coaster Man" sounded like an early Raspberries track with a Beach Boys segment thrown in the middle.
Those comparisons where meant as compliments.
- "Hades" ended the album with another Lennon-esque ballad.
Heavily orchestrated (courtesy of Tom Sellers), this one was apparently meant to be the album's big statement.
Complete with stark piano, echo treated vocals (which served to underscore the comparison to Lennon's voice), Christmas bells and a big backing chorus, the results were a little over-the-top for me, but so what ...
Elsewhere Family pulled a single from the album:
- 1972's "Hades" b/w "Sincerely Yours" (Family catalog number 0916).
All told one of the better Beatlesque releases I've heard.
I'd love to know what happened to front man Billay. (by RDTEN1, from RYM ... many thanks mate)
03.Take Me Back
04.Talking Out Of Turn
05.Lay It On The Line
06.Love Minus You
08.Roller Coaster Man
*Richard Billay - guitar, piano, vocals
*Richie Bremen - bass
*Joe Zucca - drums
[ Thank you MCLEHAST for sending this post ... many thanks mate ]
[ Original rip and scans made by Discus ... thanks mate]
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