Monday, November 19, 2007

CITY BOY lost album "IT'S PERSONAL"


How City Boy failed to get the fame it deserved...is still a question fans of the band can't answer. Maybe the very name was a handicap, since it was rather bland (and not even in tough plural). The group arrived in 1976 with a first album brimming the wicked harmony and challenging lyrics ("Deadly Delicious" on both counts, with Lol Mason unafraid to admit that he wasn't sure what the hell a woman being "sharper than a telephone" really meant).

After three promising albums all loaded with eccentricity ("Oddball Dance," "Man Who Ate his Car," "Bordello Night," "Dinner at the Ritz') the boys from Birmingham got serious with a one-hit-wonder single "5.7.0.5" (commercial lyrics replacing the original "Turn on to Jesus" lines). Their new album "Book Early" was titled as if they were finally firmly on their way to international success. Their two follow-up albums had titles that seriously distanced themselves from their whimsical power-pop image: "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" and "Heads are Rolling." How whimsical had they been previously? Lol and Steve used to do a Rockette set of high leg kicks during "Dinner at the Ritz."

Despite polished production by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, and the fierce guitar of Mike Slamer balancing the Michael J. Fox-like prettiness of lead singer Steve Broughton (whose cuteness was offset by the band's other lead vocalist, bulky and bearded Lol Mason), City Boy just kept "Moving in Circles" (to quote a song title). It was quite a mixed up irony that their lone hit single was voiced by neither lead vocalist, but drummer Roy Ward (though on some TV appearances it was Broughton lip-synching!)
Broughton departed the band not long after. Their "lucky seventh" album was gut-checked with the title "It's Personal," to further counter their rep as a band more along the harmonic and theatrical sensibilities of Queen. It didn't get a UK or USA release, trickling out briefly via an obscure label in Scandanavia.One might expect a debacle, but your download proves (if you own the others) that this was (with the exception of the annoying "Guerra de Mondo") quality work. Mason wrote the lyrics, and the music was from either Slamer, or keyboard player Max Thomas. It's power pop with intelligence, sophistication and some punch. In fact a little extra punch was supplied by Ian Dury's sax man, wild Davey Payne on several tracks.

Lol Mason went on to form Maisonettes, and had the distinction of having a one-hit-wonder with that group, too, "Heartbreak Avenue." The heart of City Boy, Broughton and Mason, have been sorely missed ever since. Certainly here, where both Steve and Lol are fondly remembered as really nice guys to spend some time with.


Ask any fan of City Boy why they love this band so much, and they'll start to give you a lot of reasons but...some of the chords they struck were deep enough to make two words all that matter: "It's personal."
IT'S PERSONAL rip from the LP
Updates: Nov, 2011, the Rapidshare link lapsed, so it's been re-upped via Box instead. Since the album was first posted, the album finally had a CD pressing. So if you'd like a higher bit-rate than the average 198-200 here, and want to support indie re-issue labels in their divine futility, grab the CD. On most of the usual suspect websites, like Amazon, it's selling pretty cheap.

9 comments:

Derek said...

Do you know what Lol Mason is doing now? About 5 minutes ago, TOTP2 (a repeat on the Dave channel) showed the Maisonettes performance of "Heartache Avenue" from December 1982. I like that song, so it was good to see the the clip.

Anonymous said...

Lol mason used to be in a band that played at the cherry trees alcester but I cannot remember what they were called...was it city boy or was it Back in the band

KODRA said...

This is a CRIME! Link is dead!!!Please fix it!

Ill Folks said...

Hi Derek, no idea what Lol is doing these days. Last I heard, Steve Broughton was an exec working in NYC for a record label.

Ill Folks said...

Hi Kodra,

Album's re-upped. Rapidshare's been pruning me so much, I'm surprised not to be purple and wrinkled.

The problem is the stuff on this blog is so obscure and esoteric, it doesn't get downloaded as often as some link services would want.

After all, I'm not throwing around Adele or Rihanna (although their boyfriends probably are.)

Very much aware of how many files RS has removed, and in most cases, I still have the files and can re-up as time permits.

Anonymous said...

Lol Mason is a DJ going by the name Lazlo on 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City.

Ill Folks said...

Lazlo-Lol? He must be an even better actor than he was a singer. And a good writer, able to forge a convincing new ID.

Sources insist Laz is much younger than Lol, joined "the show in 2003...is married to morning show host Afentra and together they have two children, Gyro and Little Bill. Prior to joining KRBZ, Lazlo served in the Navy, bought a degree on the net for the University of North London, suffered various drug and alcohol addictions, and served time in prison. He is from the Detroit area and roots for all the Detroit pro teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings), as well as the University of Michigan Wolverines; he is also an avid Queens Park Rangers fan. Favorite bands include The Clash, The Smiths (& Morrissey), Gaslight Anthem, Rise Against, Social Distortion, The Stone Roses, and Catherine Wheel. His first job in radio was with WJXR, The Bargain Channel."

stargazerlily24 said...

That last comment has me in total stitches !!!

Ill Folks said...

"Lol" Mason's full name isn't Laughing Out Loud Mason. It's Lawrence Mason. The Brits do have a fondness for shortening (no, not the white goo). McCartney is Macca, Barry is Baz, and sometimes, Lawrence is Lol. He was credit as Lol Mason on the City Boy and Maisonettes tracks, but his more recent work (with "The New Maisonettes" and with his co-write partner Mark Tibenham is back to "Lawrence Mason.") He still ain't "Lazlo."