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Articles Home » 1976 Articles » Lyall, William - 1976 Solo Casting
Lyall, William - 1976 Solo Casting

ARTIST: Lyall, William
ALBUM: Solo Casting
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1996, See For Miles - feat 2 bonus tracks * 2007, Toshiba/EMI (Japan), RATCD-4246


LINEUP: William Lyall - lead vocals, piano, arp synthesizer, string synthesizer, percussion, fender rhodes, flute, harpsichord, tambourine

David Paton, Ian Bairnson, Robert Ahwai, Barry DeSousa - guitars * Dominic Bugatti - guitars, background vocals * Frank Musker - backing vocals * Phil Chen - bass * Phil Collins - drums, percussion * Stuart Tosh - drums * Dick Tate - percussion * Chris Mercer - sax * Ronnie Leahy - piano * Terry Walsh - banjo * Ray Russell - sitar * Paul Buckmaster - string arrangements

TRACK LISTING: 01 Solo Casting * 02 Us * 03 Playing In The Sand * 04 Supertrader * 05 Reasons * 06 The Deeper You Get * 07 Maniac * 08 Don't Be Silly * 09 Take Me Up * 10 Slee

William 'Billy' Lyall was the progressive minded keyboardist for pop rockers Pilot, a band I've slobbered over here at GD on several occasions with more to come lol! Lyall passed away from an illness related to AIDS in 1989 but left us one of the most remarkable pop albums to come out of the UK in 1970's which included his mates in Pilot, Phil Collins on drums and a host of top notch session players. At the time 'Solo Casting' didn't set the world on fire, but in the years since has earned a cult following among pop lovers with numerous CD reissues, the most recent coming from Japan in the mini-LP sleeve format.

The Songs
Lyall left Pilot primarily out of frustration David Paton's songs were chosen as singles and his ideas were sometimes cut out of the group's albums. On 'Solo Casting', Billy was like a bird set free with a fantastic set of tracks, orchestrated to the hilt with whimsical lyrical content loosely base on dreaming. Not nightmares, but warm wonderful daydreams set to music and for fans of 10cc, ELO, Alan Parsons Project and early Kate Bush it really doesn't get much better than this. There are so many good cuts here, but there are standouts even in an album of this quality including 'Us' which brings to mind ELO at their most poppy complete with strings that back a to-die-for melody and 'Supertrader' which sounds like Queen backing ABBA or Valensia in a glitter mood. 'The Deeper You Get' and 'Take Me Up' both have a distinct Paul McCartney feel and since Macca was such a huge influence on the Pilot sound it's not a major revelation. Lyall has another go at 'Maniac' which originally appeared on Pilot's 'Morin Heights' album although this version isn't necessarily better - just different. The album's final track is 'Sleeper'; a voiceless orchestral piece arranged by Paul Buckmaster is in some ways similar to The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine' soundtrack album and George Martin's much maligned second side of that record. I've always enjoyed this type of thing and 'Sleeper' is no exception closing out the album in a truly progressive style.

In Summary
My only quibble concerning this record is the artwork for the CD reissues that have appeared in recent years. Above is the original album art by the amazing Hipgnosis Studios, but for some reason all the reissues I've seen include Lyall's head shot with a listing of credits on the lower right hand side as a front cover.

Not the best imagery and I prefer the original, but it's the music that matters and 'Solo Casting' offers plenty of that and more.

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