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Pilot (UK/USA) - 1972 Pilot



ARTIST: Pilot (UK/USA)
ALBUM: Pilot
LABEL: RCA
SERIAL: BPRS-5765, LSP-4730
YEAR: 1972

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Bruce Stephens - vocals, piano, organ, electric & acoustic guitar * Micky Waller - drums * Martin Quittenton - acoustic guitar * Leigh Stephens - electric guitar * Neville Whitehead - bass

Additional Musicians:
Ray Cooper - percussion * Gordon Huntley - pedal steel, dobro * David Hentschel - ARP synthesizer * Chris Hughes - sax, horn arrangements * Karen Friedman, Jacki Hardin, Dari Lalou, Casey Synge - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Stop And Think * 02 Miss Sandy * 03 Rendezvous * 04 Fillmore Shuffle * 05 Love Is That Way * 06 Penny Alone * 07 With Me Tonight * 08 Rider


Background
No relation to the Scottish band that gave the world 'Magic', this Pilot was a minor-super group of sorts based in the UK, but comprised of both American and British musicians. From what I can glean based on the back sleeve blurb, the group was initially put together by drummer Mick Waller whose credentials at the time included three albums with Rod Stewart as well as stints with Jeff Beck, John Mayall, Long John Baldry and others. While in California; Waller came across Blue Cheer's former guitarist/vocalist Bruce Stephens, sat in on some sessions and hit it off apparently. Waller returned to England with Stephens following close behind. Enter Martin Quittenton another Rod Stewart alumni and the man who co-wrote the classics 'Maggie May' and 'You Wear It Well' with Rod himself. So far so good and with the addition of jazz bassist Neville Whitehead and Leigh Stephens the original founder and highly-touted lead guitarist from Blue Cheer who was already in the UK with Silver Metre releasing an iffy album in 1970, the stage was set for good things. Or was it?


The Songs
This is really a mediocre album I'm sorry to say. Structurally opener 'Stop and Think' is interesting but the soulful background vocals ruin it completely. Not a great start. Bruce Stephens is a competent vocalist with a deeper register than Ian Lloyd but swimming in the same circle. In the end it comes down to songs and Pilot it seems, had very few at their disposal. 'Rendezvous' had potential, but the horn arrangements cheapen the song into forgettable '70s schlock. 'Fillmore Shuffle' really doesn't really shuffle at all and as an obvious ode to either or both of Bill Graham's infamous East or West coast rock establishments, it just doesn't do him or the legend any justice coming off like a poor Rolling Stones out-take. On the upside 'Love Is That Way' is a nice little pop tune with a country rock feel and more of this would have made me quite happy, but 'Penny Alone' just doesn't cut it and the closing 'Rider' sounds like a Chicago cover band and not a very good one at that.


In Summary
One good tune out of eight does not a good album make (!) and unbelievably 'Rider' was released as the album's single. A poor choice in a series of bad moves and from what I can gather the LP was only available in the U.S. market for which it was clearly aimed at. With guitarist Leigh Stephens out of the picture frustrated by Bruce's substance abuse and lacking any serious role on the first record, a sophomore album 'Point Of View' was recorded, but rumored only to be released as promo copies making it a very rare item indeed.


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