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City Boy - 1979 The Day The Earth Caught Fire

ARTIST: City Boy
ALBUM: The Day The Earth Caught Fire
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: SD 19249
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1993, ATM/ Bear Tracks Records, BTCD 979 419 AH * 2008, Renaissance, RMED-0300 * 2011, Air Mail Recordings (Japan), AIRAC-1636


LINEUP: Lol Mason - lead & backing vocals * Steve Broughton - lead & backing vocals, acoustic guitar * Mike Slamer - guitar * Chris Dunn - bass, acoustic guitar * Max Thomas - keyboards, backing vocals * Roy Ward - lead & backing vocals, drums, percussion

Additional Musician: Huey Lewis - harmonica

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Day The Earth Caught Fire * 02 It's Only The End Of The World * 03 Interrupted Melody * 04 Modern Day Love Affair * 05 New York Times * 06 Up In The Eighties * 07 Machines * 08 Ambition a) Ambition, b) Me And My Tarot, c) Rev-On, d) The End


This is one of those great late 70's records that should have sold massive quantities, gone triple platinum and been in every household from Rotterdam to Peoria filed neatly with 'Breakfast In America', 'Rumours', 'Hotel California' and 'Highway To Hell', but it was not to be and for City Boy the end was near. Following the success of '' and a huge tour of American arenas supporting Hall & Oates; City Boy signed an obscene deal with Atlantic Records that would never, ever pay off but money's money and the band knew how to spend it. Recording in the Bahamas with Mutt Lange, musical conflicts and other issues ensued and with a move to New York at the wrong time proved too much for Chris Dunn and Steve Broughton who left the ranks by Christmas of 1979. 'The Day The Earth Caught Fire' tanked with no tour and little in the way of serious air play.

The Songs
A shame as this was a band at their creative apex. Sure the influence of 10cc, ELO and Queen are all over this album like white on rice, just like every other City Boy release before it and maybe, just maybe Steve Broughton was right when he expressed a desire to 'modernize' the band's sound but damn if this record doesn't set the synapses alight. From the get-go the title track kicks in with its end of the world refrain, pompy keys and over the top chorus; it's a pomp-prog masterpiece that to this day outside maybe Kansas or Styx, has few peers. The doomsday, head for the bunkers subject matter carries over to the funky but fun bop of 'It's Only The End Of The World' with none other than a then unknown Huey Lewis on harmonica while the intro to 'Interrupted Melody' recalls The Boomtown Rats one-off smash 'I Don't Like Mondays' before kicking into a massive riff and a little slice of prog AOR heaven. Both 'Modern Love Affair' and the flip's 'New York Times' are hook-laden as heck and built to please but deeper into the album a far more adventurous tone comes into play on the heavy 'Machines' and culminating with the epic four part 'Ambition' that sounds even more schizoid than Godley & Creme, if that's possible.

In Summary
'Heads Are Rolling' followed and while a good album with the much-loved Mike Slamer dominating the record's sound, sold even less than its predecessor and packed cut-out bins for years. 1981's new wave inspired 'It's Personal' was interesting although only released on a limited basis in Scandinavia and the final nail in the coffin for what is truly one of the finest bands to come out of the British Isles.

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#1 | gdazegod on February 16 2013 00:28:23
Agree, this band should've been huge during this time period. I used to thrash '' back in the day..
#2 | Carlos Ramirez on October 14 2014 01:06:00
Mike Slamer did a lot of studio work in the late '80s. He played the guitar leads on Warrant's first album. I think he might have also done them on their 'Cherry Pie' album.
#3 | englandashes on August 12 2015 19:09:13
The first four albums have just been released as double packs, interesting bonus on book early, it seems 5705' was originally called turn on to jesus, which was released in germany and holland, same song but different subject matter and different lyrics, on hearing it the bbc suggested if they changed the subject matter they would play it, mason wrote new lyrics, and became a hit, the original is included on the reissue, plus although broughton lip synch this on totp, it was ward the drummer who actually sang the song, he also was the voice behing tight fit the lion sleeps tonight, never too odd to find something out the first time.

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