ALAN PRICE: ALAN PRICE (1977)
1) Rainbow's End; 2) I've Been Hurt; 3) I Wanna Dance; 4) Let Yourself Go; 5) Just For You; 6) I'm A Gambler; 7) Poor Boy; 8) The Same Love; 9) Is It Right; 10) Life Is Good; 11) The Thrill.
I am not quite sure if this was recorded and released before or immediately after the first attempt at the original Animals' reunion... but who cares? It's not as if you can see any faint echoes of «Animalisms» in this album, which seems to be continuing in the same direction as its predecessor — glossing Alan's image as that of a clean-cut entertainer with equal respect to vintage and modern forms of said entertainment. For sure, this «between today and yesterday» angle makes for a mildly interesting listen, but in fact the album's only saving grace is Price's humble charisma that even a bowtie cannot totally melt away.
The record is a stylistic hodge-podge — there's gospel soul (ʽRainbow's Endʼ), discofied pop rock (ʽI've Been Hurtʼ), sugary folk pop (ʽI Wanna Danceʼ), funk-pop (ʽLet Yourself Goʼ), Billy Joel-esque balladry (ʽJust For Youʼ), glossed-over rock'n'roll (ʽI'm A Gamblerʼ), and later on, there'll be some blues, some country, some vaudeville... no two songs really sound alike, which would have probably made the album a masterpiece if all the tunes had something new and stunning to say in their respective genres. Which they do not; but Price sings them all in his usual lovable voice, and oversees arrangements that avoid contemporary gimmicks and concentrate on quite traditional and well-constructed guitar and organ solos. (The screechy guitar solo on ʽLife Is Goodʼ is particularly well rounded — I have no idea who Rod Hendry, the officially credited guitar player, is, but if he's alive and well, please tell him that somebody still cares).
Most importantly, the «new» elements, such as the very well noticeable disco bassline on ʽI've Been Hurtʼ, are quite harmlessly integrated with old stylistics — really, that song sounds just like good old time barroom entertainment, just with an extra «hop quotient» thrown in for the sake of modernity. And I suppose that on ʽI'm A Gamblerʼ, Alan delivers a solo on the newly manufactured Polymoog synth, because you just don't get that sound from him or anybody else prior to those times, but it just adds a slightly «technophile» aspect to take away the generic flavor of this otherwise completely run-of-the-mill boogie number.
The only real standout on the album is ʽRainbow's Endʼ, which could have easily fit on any of Alan's conceptual records — a soulful, self-questioning epic with great interaction between the almost operatic lead vocal part (terrific falsetto flourishes at the end of each line) and the gospel-style backing vocals. Unfortunately, it sets the wrong tone for the record: had it been placed at the end, it might have mildly stunned us as a sort of ʽDay In The Lifeʼ conclusion to the overall «whimsy» of the album — as it is, it serves as an inadequately grand introduction to lots of pleasant, but simplistic entertainment (although ʽLife Is Goodʼ, near the end of the record, tries to somewhat remedy the situation and bring back the epic vibe — especially with that guitar solo — but it is not as originally written as ʽRainbow's Endʼ).
Still a thumbs up, though: the overall combination of diversity, modest energy, occasional hooks, and personal charisma ensure that this is one of those «high-mediocre» albums where nothing specifically stands out, but the collective humor, emotionality, and taste produces a positive vibe all the same. Generic entertainment, yes, and, again, a far cry from the man's lucky streak of 1973-75, but «if all generic entertainment were like this»... and you can finish this one up in any way you personally prefer.