Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-74)
- Mike Audsley -- vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Tony Brock -- drums, percussion
- Lol Coxhill (RIP 2012) -- sax
- Mike Giles -- drums, percussion
- John Gustaffson (RIP 2014) -- bass
- Mike Morran -- keyboards
- Ann Oddell -- keyboards
- Caleb Quaye -- guitar, bass
- Barry de Souza (RIP 2009) -- drums, percussion
- Johnny Van Derek -- violin
- The Echo Mountain Band
Rating: 3 stars ***
Catalog: SNFT 659
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing, includes lyric insert
Catalog ID: --
Produced by Richard Kirby, English singer/keyboard player Mick Audley's second album, 1974's "Storyboard" was varied and grossly inconsistent. Still, the combination of Audsley's nasally voice and the album's diverse soundscape made it worth a couple of spins. If nothing else, it's one of those album's that was fun to play spot-the-influence along with. I hear influences as diverse as Elton John, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Al Stewart and even 10cc. It's also a pretty obscure album. After listening to it a couple of times I started looking for some backup information on the artist and the album. Crickets. Judging by the lack of online reviews, it's almost as if the album never came out. Ironically even Audsley's Wikipedia entry fails to mention the album, instead focusing on his work in film. Featuring all-original material, if you had to pigeonhole Audsley's sound, I guess the label would be singer/songwriter, but across these twelve tracks he bounced across the musical spectrum taking stabs at a variety of genres ranging from sensitive singer/songwriter ('Down at the Mission Hotel') to conventional rocker ('The Circus and Captain Katz'). The album was certainly varied and there were numerous missteps. The bluegrass flavored 'Stepping Out of these Country Shoes' wasn't something I enjoyed. Sounding like a bad 10cc tune, the Caribbean-flavored 'Mistah Foghorn Likes Bananas' wasn't much better. At the other end of the spectrum, 'Red Biddy' and the UK single 'Mr. Landlord' showcased Audsley as an accomplished pop act. Falling in the middle ground were the overabundance of ballads. Taken individually tracks like 'Down at the Mission Hotel ', 'She's a Real Lady' and 'His Master's Voice' were all radio friendly, if forgettable. Packed together on side two, they served to slow the album to a crawl.
If you had to pick one of the two solo albums, I'd suggest going with the debut 1973's "Dark and Devil Waters" - Sonet catalog number SNTF 641.
"Storyboard" track listing:
1.) The Circus and Captain Katz (Mick Audsley) - rating: *** stars
The opening keyboards have always remind me of Prefab Sprout's 'God'. Shame the rest of 'The Circus and Captain Katz' wasn't as good. Highlighting Audsley's high, limited vocal range, the song opened up as a fragile ballad, but about a minute in shifted into rock territory. Imagine a mash-up of an Elton John melody and an Al Stewart plotline - life in a traveling circus.
2.) Red Biddy (Mick Audsley) - rating:**** stars
Complete with MOR horn arrangement, 'Red Biddy' found Audsley showcasing his top-40 pop moves. Yeah, it's easy to see some folks turning their noses up at a radio-friendly performance like this one, but this one was easily as good as the mid-'70s material topping the English charts. Interesting that Sonet didn't tap this one as a UK single.
3.) The Dutchman (Mick Audsley) - rating: **** stars
Audsley's nasally delivery is an acquired taste and when paired with Al Stewart-styled story telling it won't be for every listener. Having grown up on this stuff, I'll admit to having a soft spot for the the musical niche.
4.) Mr. Landlord (Mick Audsley) - rating: **** stars
Powered by punchy horns, 'Mr. Landlord' was another of the album's more commercial efforts. Admittedly the lyrics were a little quirky for radio, but it was hard to avoid humming along. Only complaint was the track faded out too soon. Sonet released the tune as an English single.
- 1974's 'Mr. Landlord' b/w 'The Commissioner, He Come' (Sonet catalog number SON 2035)
Curiously the slip side The Commissioner, He Come' was pulled from Audsley's 1973 debut album - "Dark and Devil Waters".
5.) Stepping Out of these Country Shoes (Mick Audsley) - rating: * stars
An indication of the direction he'd pursue with The Echo Mountain Band, 'Stepping Out of these Country Shoes' reflected a strong bluegrass flavor. Can't say it did anything for me.
Reflecting a lilting Caribbean melody, 'Mistah Foghorn Likes Bananas' was pleasant, if forgettable. Imagine a Graham Gouldman tune written for 10cc or a '70s UK pop outfit like Brotherhood of Man dipping their toes into West Indies musical influences. The song was released as the album's second single:
- 1974's 'Mistah Foghorn Likes Bananas' b/w 'Red Biddy' (Sonet catalog number DON 2040)
2.) Wildcat Strike (Mick Audsley) - rating: ** stars
Hum, I'm really getting in the identify-the-influence here. The keyboard-powered ' Wildcat Strike' bares more than a passing resemblance to something out of Gilbert O'Sullivan's singer/songwriter catalog. Given the topic it was pretty easy to identify this as a mid-'70s slice of English pop. The late Lol Coxhill featured on sax.
3.) Down at the Mission Hotel (Mick Audsley) - rating: *** stars
As mentioned earlier, Audsley's nasally voice was interesting and the multi-tracked ballad 'Down at the Mission Hotel' was a good place to decide whether you were going to be a fan or not. The horns gave the song kind of a New Orleans feel.
4.) She's a Real Lady (Mick Audsley) - rating: ** stars
Bland, forgettable ballad that reminds me of something out of Chris "Lady In Red" DeBurgh. Bad enough to have done well on top-40 radio.
5.) Blue Piece (Mick Audsley) - rating: rating: ** stars
Hey, how about a keyboard-powered ballad? Just Audsley accompanied by a keyboard, this one was at least mercifully brief, clocking in at under a minute and a half.
6.) His Master's Voice (Mick Audsley) - rating: *** stars
'His Master's Voice' found Audsley moving back to a more pop orientation, ut with a touch of Gospel thrown in the mix. Caleb Quaye's lead guitar and the song's flavor have always reminded me of Elton John's 'Levon'.
7.) Mick Audlsey (Mick Audsley) - rating:
Audsley subsequently appeared as a member of The Echo Mountain Band, releasing an obscure1975 country flavored album - "The Echo Mountain Band" (Westwood catalog number WRS071)
Unlike his musical career, Audsley's mid-'70s decision to shift his attention to film work proved far more rewarding in terms of success and recognition, including his work on the Harry Potter franchise.
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