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Unicorn - 1976 Too Many Crooks

ARTIST: Unicorn
ALBUM: Too Many Crooks
LABEL: Harvest (UK), Capitol (USA)
SERIAL: SHSP4054, ST-11453
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2006, Airmail Recordings (Japan), AIRAC-1190 * 2009, Renaissance Records, RMED239


LINEUP: Pat Martin - bass, mandolin, vocals * Pete Perrier - drums, percussion, vocals * Ken Baker - guitar, keyboards, vocals * Kevin Smith - guitar, slide guitar

TRACK LISTING: 01 Weekend * 02 Ferry Boat * 03 He's Got The Pride * 04 Keep On Going * 05 Too Many Crooks * 06 Bullseye Bill * 07 Disco Dancer * 08 Easy * 09 No Way Out Of Here * 10 In The Mood

Trust me when I say Unicorn were far better than their details looked on paper. British and produced by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour; Unicorn played American styled country rock influenced by Crosby Stills & Nash as well as The Byrds. The group released two excellent albums 1971's 'Uphill All The Way' and 'Blue Pine Trees' which hit store shelves in 1974 bolstered by an extensive U.S. tour with Fleetwood Mac, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Doobie Brothers and Styx. 'Too Many Crooks' was the follow-up, but Unicorn never returned to America, concentrating on the UK instead, but the gigs became more sporadic for whatever reason and Unicorn after their final record 1977's 'One More Tomorrow' disappeared with the advent of punk.

The Songs
'Too Many Crooks' released as 'Unicorn 2' in the U.S. with inferior cover art, should have put these guys square in the center of the country rock map. The song writing is top notch and it goes without saying these guys were seasoned players all. 'One Of These Days' kicks things off to a fine start, jangly guitars similar to the long forgotten Starry Eyed & Laughing and a wonderful chorus that demands repeated plays and shows Unicorn knew their way around a pop hook. Indeed comparisons to Crosby Stills & Nash and The Hollies can be made throughout the album's ten tracks as well, in particular the disciplined vocal harmonies. 'He's Got Pride' is brilliant countrified pop reminding me of soft rockers Dr. Hook - a band Unicorn would support in the UK the same year while David Gilmour thought so much of 'No Way Out Of Here' he would cover the tune on his 1978 solo. Finally 'Disco Dancer' sounds a lot like 10cc stylistically and I wonder if Unicorn had been pushed to a place where they could have shed the country rock trappings in favor of a more pure pop sound, they might have survived a few more years. We'll never know.

In Summary
Released on CD by both Japan's Air Mail Recordings and Renaissance Records in the States, 'Too Many Crooks' is definitely worth owning and in case you were wondering the Renaissance issue is from the masters, includes a bonus track and sounds superb. Buy with confidence.

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#1 | gdazegod on May 04 2010 02:55:14
I'm quite interested in this lot. I see on RYM that their origins go way back to 1963! Shock
#2 | Eric on May 04 2010 03:04:38
All their stuff is good. The last LP 'One More Tomorrow' was co-produced by Gilmour and Muff Winwood and is worth a listen and owning too...

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