27 March 2016

Starbreaker - The Sound Of Summer/ Arizona Lost and Gone



Label: Air
Year of Release: 1977

John Carter should need no introduction to most of you, and yet "should" is probably the operative word there. While I've no doubt that many "Left and to the Back" readers are aware of his songwriting efforts for projects and bands as varied as The Flowerpot Men, First Class, Manfred Mann, The Music Explosion and The Ivy League, not to mention the efforts released under his own name such as the truly mind-boggling piece of psychedelic pop "Laughing Man", plenty of others won't be.

For the benefit of the people who have yet to delve into his back catalogue, Carter was a songwriter who undoubtedly heard Brian Wilson's efforts from across the pond and immediately decided that this was the future of sophisticated popsmithery as the world knew it. Therefore, a huge rump of his output from The Ivy League in the sixties through to First Class in the seventies dedicated itself to sunny and yet frequently despondent or introspective pop songwriting. The Ivy League's superb "My World Fell Down", later covered by US group Sagittarius to greater recognition, is a fine example of his experiments with an Anglicised approximation of the California sound.  When First Class's "Beach Baby" was issued in the seventies in the USA, it climbed into the Top 5 and most North Americans blithely assumed that it was the work of a Californian group. Unbeknownst to them, Carter had merely penned the track from his East Sheen house with his wife Gillian Shakespeare and given it to a studio group.

By the late seventies his hit rate was beginning to slow down, and Starbreaker's "The Sound Of Summer" stems from this less fertile period. However, there's utterly no reason why it should have failed. Beginning with what distinctly sounds like the noises of a seaside crowd in Brighton rather than the Californian coast, "The Sound Of Summer" springs into life with a fantastic clarion call, the usual effective vocal harmonies, and a sprightly, effervescent melody. It's sharp, riddled to the brim with hooks, and short and sweet. Had it been issued at any other period than the late seventies, it's easier to imagine it performing better.

Perhaps by the time this blog entry goes live, it will even summon an end to the freezing cold, grey English days that have dominated over the last few months. Here's living in hope. 


2 comments:

VanceMan said...

I think these two songs sound like demos for the late-'70s version of the Moody Blues. That isn't a bad thing.

23 Daves said...

I hadn't thought of that comparison before, VanceMan... but I can hear your point.