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Non-Prog CD Reviews

David Essex

David Essex

Review by Gary Hill

This reissue of David Essex’ self-titled debut rather surprised me. I had this album on vinyl years ago (without the bonus track, of course). I haven’t heard it in a very long time, though. I remembered it being more mainstream pop rock. It’s actually on the strange side, but in a cool way. This is mostly glam music with a lot of psychedelia in it. At times it calls to mind David Bowie and at other points Alice Cooper. It mostly lands in between those two edges. It’s cool stuff, if a bit odd.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gonna Make You a Star

The glam rock sound here feels a lot like a cross between David Bowie and Mott the Hoople. Of course, those two things are related, anyway.

Window
I love this weird little rocker. It’s a rather stripped down arrangement. It’s part glam rock and party psychedelia. I dig the saxophone on this. In some ways comparisons to early Alice Cooper would not be out of the question, really. When the arrangement fills out later, it feels almost ominous and threatening. It turns to a genuine fear thing at the end, too.
I Know
This bouncy little number has a lot of Beatles and British folk built into it. I can make out more of that early Bowie sound, too. This is a little on the odd side. It’s also very cool. The instrumental section leans toward progressive rock.
There's Something about You Baby
This is more of a balladic cut. It has some symphonic strings in the mix. It also has a lot of psychedelic sounds. In a lot of ways it reminds me of something the band Bread might have done, but blended with David Bowie.
Good Ol' Rock & Roll
This is essentially an early version on the kind of song Essex would later do on “Rock On.” It’s a cool tune with a lot of glam built into it. Somehow I can also make out a bit of The Stones here. The saxophone soloing at the end is tastefully noisy.
America
Another cut with a stripped down arrangement and echoed vocals, this feels a bit like “Rock On,” too. It’s another that has a lot of psychedelia and glam built into it.
Dance Little Girl
I like the psychedelic rock arrangement on this. It has some weird things (like the horns and strings) that somehow work here, even though they seem they shouldn’t. Again, I could see some comparisons to early Alice Cooper working here. I can also see mentioning Donovan.
Ooh Darling
This is very different. It’s got some definite Motown in the mix. Yet, there is still David Bowie and a psychedelic weirdness to it. On the one hand it’s one of the most pure pop songs here. Yet, it’s also tweaked from being purely mainstream.
Miss Sweetness
A fun folk type tune, this is really a roots music exploration. It’s more of a rocker than a lot of the stuff here. It’s a bit odd, but also works well. It’s one of the more purely mainstream things here. It has some real rockabilly guitar soloing and some screamed vocals. When the horns join later it brings some serious Dixieland jazz to the table.
Stardust
The first two and a half minutes of this land in a similar kind of sound as “Rock On.” It’s sort of glam, sort of psychedelic and sort of weird. Yet, it’s also quite cool. There is a killer guitar solo built into this thing. Then it resolves out to a catchy kind of mainstream rock jam with non-lyrical vocals after that. That takes the piece to it’s end.
Bonus Track
               
Stardust (7" Version)
Here, as the title and parenthetical suggest, we get a single version of the previous tune. The main difference is that this foregoes the mainstream ending movement.
 
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