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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Trickster - 1979 Back To Zero
Trickster - 1979 Back To Zero

ARTIST: Trickster
ALBUM: Back To Zero
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2006, Strange Days (Japan), POCE-1069


LINEUP: Phil Bates - vocals, guitars * Michael Groth - guitar * John Fincham - bass * Paul Elliot - drums * Colin Hewinson - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tomorrow Belongs To Me * 02 Back To Zero * 03 You Make Me Want To Stay * 04 Road To Nowhere * 05 Bump In The Night * 06 Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone * 07 Hold On * 08 Falling For The Wrong Guy * 09 I'm Satisifed * 10 Can't Stop Us Singing * 11 The Loser

I'll be the first to admit I'm not an authority on 70's British melodic rock and Trickster were bought to my attention by a fellow writer here at Glory Daze who mentioned them in passing in a review. I also concede that I never thought British AOR of the late 70's could ever match what was happening in the US, but Trickster are an exception to that rule, such is the sophistication of 'Back To Zero'. Trickster were formed in 1976 by Bates, who had previously played with the likes of Duane Eddy. Don Arden latched onto the band, becoming their manager and signing them to the Jet label. Their debut 'Find The Lady' appeared in 1978, which saw them tour with labelmates ELO. The superior follow up a year later is an exemplary AOR statement which easily shades the likes of Charlie or ELO themselves. The lineup had been shuffled, with Groth and Fincham new additions to the band, bassist Mike Sheppard having left.

The Songs
'Tomorrow Belongs To Me' achieved some success as a single and is a close relation to ELO of the period, through the similar keyboard work, and Bate's Jeff Lynne style vocals, which saw him take up the position of vocalist for ELO2 in 1993. Rich in melody, its a pefect opening. The title track is a cynical take on the music business. more of an AOR Genesis of sorts. Simply unbeatable is the superb AOR of 'You Make Me Want To Stay' with its never ending range of harmonies. Synthesizers run the show during 'Road To Nowhere', with a hook that threatened to never leave my head, a measure of the musics quality. Continuing the breathless start is 'Bump In The Night', a decidedly British sounding cut, with Supertramp like keyboard work and an upbeat sense of urgency that culminates in a classic chorus. 'Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone' is heavily orchestrated, a moody, effective piece as is the near West Coast 'Falling For The Wrong Guy.' Along the same lines as Charlie is 'I'm Satisfied' which toys with a sub disco bass line like much of Charlie's 'Lines' album. That keyboard line just might be the most jovial I've ever heard! Quite the singalong romp is 'Can't Stop Us Singing' which leads into the synth laden 'The Loser', with a triumphant hook quite at odds with the title, but delightfully so.

In Summary
A sensational album which has taken me aback somewhat! For the period this is as classy as you like and what a disappointment the band split in 1980 after such a promising start. Imagining what a 1983 album from them might have sounded like isn't worth thinking about. Supposedly the band was to sign with RCA after touring with Boston amongst others, but dissolved before it could happen. Bates has been the most visible member, with a host of solo albums and stints with the bands Atlantic and ELO 2, which solidified his reputation amongst British AOR fans. Yet another album to look out for. The list is never ending!

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Tags: Trickster 
#1 | windsofmarch on December 23 2012 16:24:25
Player meets Charlie with UK Mr. Big looking through the window.At times some pomp overtone reminds to Aviary and some keyboards to Supertramp.Great record.
#2 | airborne on February 04 2015 22:46:39
"April in paris'. Great song.
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