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Paris - 1976 Big Towne 2061

ALBUM: Big Towne 2061
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST-11560
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2001, Zoom Club (UK), ZCRCD62


LINEUP: Bob Welch - guitar, vocals * Hunt Sales - drums, percussion, vocals * Glen Cornick - bass, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Blue Robin * 02 Big Towne 2061 * 03 Pale Horse Pale Ride * 04 New Orleans * 05 Outlaw Game * 06 Money Love * 07 Heart Of Stone * 08 Slave Trader * 09 One In Ten * 10 Janie


It's a shame Capitol did little to promote what has become one of the greatest 'lost' hard rock albums of the 1970's. Fronted by bespectacled guitarist Bob Welch, the driving force behind what many consider Fleetwood Mac's best work; Paris spent the spring of America's bicentennial year on a whirlwind opening act jaunt with Blue Oyster Cult, Styx, Starcastle, Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd while watching their ambitious Zep-influenced debut spectacularly nose-dive on the charts. By the time the follow-up 'Big Towne, 2061' hit the shops, Paris were finished and Welch began eyeing what would become a lucrative solo career beginning with 1977's delicious 'French Kiss' LP.

The Songs
Neither as dark nor dramatic as the remarkable debut; Paris was still vastly different from anything cranked out of the hard rock scene of the day and it's a weird record to be frank. Gone are the larger than life Led Zeppelin-isms in favor of Be Bop Deluxe styled artiness and oddly enough - southern rock. It should come as no surprise much of the record is a wash and yet I find it strangely compelling. Cherry-picking the albums best and worst - the Dixieland bop of 'Blue Robin' and 'Outlaw Game' take matters south in no time with a vocal mix that sounds like it was telephoned in from Mars. Not sure what kind of post Vanilla Fudge psychedelic hangover producer Bob Hughes was under, but man it's rough. The title track and 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider' have the same effect and thirty two years after first hearing the album I'm still not sure this is even the same band that recorded the mind-blowing heavy classics 'Black Book' and 'Starcage'. Making matters worse is side two's opener 'Money Love' with drummer Hunt Sales dropping in on poorly executed lead vocals and is a bona-fide mess of a song suggesting the band were clearly fresh out of ideas, stoned or both. What I want to believe is Welch was sneaky and saving his best material for later but only he knows for sure. 'Heart Of Stone' and in particular 'Slave Trader' are mediocre but passable echoing Fleetwood Mac while the proggy 'Janie' is the best cut here and the closest to the true Paris sound, if there ever was such a thing.

In Summary
Unusual yes, mandatory listening no, and needless to say I passed on the Zoom Club reissue years ago. I do like the cover art which fits the mood of the record perfectly - strange.

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#1 | super80boy on August 16 2014 16:42:39
It took a few spins, but this album did grow on me in parts. They most definitely took a different approach on this second low key effort. The production just seems to float along with no real urgency or purpose, cue the drugs. There are some decent efforts sprinkled throughout. 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider' has an interesting trance-like melody. 'Outlaw Game' and '1 In 10' get passable grades. They pick the pace up on 'Heart Of Stone', which is probably one of the better tracks.
#2 | tompa on September 07 2015 22:40:47
Musically a complete turnaround from the debut but still a good album. Despite a lot less of the hardrock.
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