What does it sound like?:
Forty-six years after their last album, Starry Eyed & Laughing are back, back, back.
“So what?” you say.
“Who?” you say?
SE&L were a short-lived band in the early 1970’s. Their star burned brightly, for just three years, and then it was snuffed out by broke management and record company disinterest. Founder members Tony Poole and Ian Whitmore kept in touch, and even wrote a few songs together, before Tony was taken ill, in 2013. Tony had done some production and was also in the wonderful Bennett, Wilson Poole, whose debut album was Americana Album of the Year in 2018 (in my house, at least.) Tony’s illness took hold once more and, during lockdown, he began to write with Ian again. And this wonderful album, (plus an accompanying album of beautiful covers,) is the result.
And it’s glorious.
Tony and Ian unashamedly wore their Byrds influences on their arms, back in 1973, and celebrated them. Their gigs were full of their own original material and a few Byrds/Dylan covers and were packed with rich harmony vocals, gutsy bass and drums and Tony’s 12-string Rickenbacker, sprinkling the stardust. And that’s what you get here, without the covers.
The opening, one-two knockout punch of Set Me Free From This Lost Highway and I See My Rider are perfect scene-setters for what is to come. Lush harmonies, a great rhythm section, strong melodies and ‘that Ricky’ make for an irresistible combination. Throughout the album, the songs are strong, the melodies insistent and the vocals, from both of them, are spot on.
Of the eleven tracks, I don’t yet have a favourite – I was playing the album while walking around a very sunny Primrose Hill, in London, the other day, and the first five tracks were on constant rotation. Today? It’s the closing three. If the sun comes out, this is the perfect soundtrack.
The album is not yet on Spotify so I’ve linked the opening track, in the Comments.
What does it all *mean*?
When they disbanded, in 1976, Starry Eyed & Laughing were a promise unfulfilled. With this new album, Tony & Ian have fulfilled that promise, and then some.
Goes well with…
Sunshine, bottles of cider, wine and sunshine.
30th September 2021 – my 65th birthday! – available from their website, above. You even get a handwritten post-it from Tony, thanking you.
Might suit people who like…
Their volume at 11 and guitars set to Maximum Jangle.