Billay


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1

- Richard Billay -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Richie Bremen -- bass

- Joe Zucca -- drums

 

 

Sleepy Hollow

- Rich Billay

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Sleepy Hollow

Company: Tiger Lily

Catalog: TL 14033

Year: 1977

Country/State: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; DJ pressing; small cut out hole top right corner

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5866

Price: SOLD $180.00

 

 

So here's one of the harder to score Tiger Lily releases (this is the only copy I've seen in 25 years of collecting), and like most Tiger Lily albums this one has a strange history.  In this case, before being released under the band name 'Billay' this collection saw a 1972 release on the Family label.  The first time around it was credited to the band Sleepy Hollow.  This time around it had the same album title, same ten songs, same running order, but radically different cover art.

 

Family catalog number FPS-2708

 

Slapping an album with a Beatles comparison is usually the equivalent of an artistic and commercial kiss of death.  Luckily, this was one of those rare cases where the comparison actually had some basis. Recorded at Philadelphia International's Sigma Studios, 1972's "Sleepy Hollow" was co-produced by John Madara and the late Tom Sellers (of Assembled Multitude fame).  Obviously named after front man/singer/guitarist Richard Billay, the trio was rounded out by bass player Richie Bremen, and drummer Joe Zucca.  With Billay responsible for all nine tracks, material like 'One Time' and 'Lay It On the Line' did have a late-inning Beatles flavor, though to my ears a better overall comparison would be Badfinger ('Take Me Back'), Emmit Rhodes ('Love Minus You'), or perhaps even a mid-1970s Lennon solo album ('Lady'). The trio's sound wasn't particularly original, but Billay had an impressive chameleon-like voice that managed to recall both Lennon's tougher sound ('Sincerely Yours' would not have been out of place on "Walls and Bridges") and McCartney's more pop-oriented material ('One Time' complete with great backing vocals).  Artistically this may not have been a major statement, but made for one fun album and was simply miles ahead of most of the Beatlesque competition.  

 

(side 1)

1.) Sincerely Yours  (Richard Billay) - 3:01

An engaging mid-tempo rocker, 'Sincerely Yours' sported an early solo John Lennon sound.  Say what you will about the album's lack of originality, but on this one Billay nailed Lennon right down to his take-no-prisoners snarling delivery.   rating: **** stars

2.) One Time  (Richard Billay) - 2:05

The up-tempo ' One Time' sounded like something pulled off an early Badfinger album.  Extremely commercial and radio ready, if would have made a nice single.  rating: *** stars

3.) Take Me Back  (Richard Billay) - 3:53

Another radio friendly effort, the ballad ' Take Me Back' sounded like a mash-up of Badfinger and Eric Carmen and the Raspberries channeling Paul McCartney.  Billay even managed to mimic the Badfinger harmony vocals and Pete Ham's instantly recognizable slide guitar sound.   Four years later the tune reappeared as a 1976 promo single on ATCO credited to Rich Billay 

- 1976's 'Take Me Back' (stereo) b/w 'Take Me Back' (mono) (ATCO catalog number 45-7055)  rating: **** stars

4.) Talking Out of Turn  (Richard Billay) - 2:48

Kicked along by a nice slide guitar, ' Talking Out of Turn' was a straightforward rocker that momentarily managed to breakaway from the Beatles/Badfinger influences.  One of my favorite performances.   rating: *** stars

5.) Lay It On the Line  (Richard Billay) - 2:43

Another pretty ballad, ' Lay It On the Line' showcased Billay's best McCartney impression.  If you like McCartney, you'll like this one.  If you think he's shallow and saccharine, then stay away.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Love Minus You  (Richard Billay) - 2:30

'Love Minus You'  started out side two with an Emmit Rhodes-does-McCartney pop number.  The results were extremely catchy, but likely to put some folks into a diabetic coma.  Bremen turned in some great bass work on this one.   rating: *** stars

2.) Lady  (Richard Billay) - 2:40

The first real disappointment, ' Lady' was a pretty, but instantly forgettable ballad.  Imagine something lifted off of an early Eric Carmen solo album ...   rating: ** stars

3.) Roller Coaster Man  (Richard Billay) - 2:58

Complete with punchy horns the rocker ' Roller Coaster Man' sounded like an early Raspberries track with a Beach Boys segment thrown in the middle.  Those comparisons where meant as compliments.   rating: *** stars  

4.) Hades  (Richard Billay) - 6:16
'Hades' ended the album with another Lennon-esque ballad.  Heavily orchestrated (courtesy of Tom Sellers), this one was apparently meant to be the album's big statement.  Complete with stark piano, echo treated vocals (which served to underscore the comparison to Lennon's voice), Christmas bells and a big backing chorus, the results were a little over-the-top for me, but so what ...   Family actually released it as a single:

And out of the blue I got an email providing a bit of information on Richard Billay.

 

"Hi, I saw your review of Sleepy Hollow and I couldn't resist emailing.

I can tell you Richard Billay's whereabouts. Rich has worked at Queens College in New York, doing video production, for nearly 30 years.  I worked with him when I went to college there.  He was writing and recording Christian music in the early '90s (none of it signed) but I don't know if he's still doing that.

He used to talk about the Sleepy Hollow days with a bit of disgust - he said he didn't like the way the record company was promoting the band - trying to make a Beatles comparison. Well, he was a big Beatles fan! Go figure. ;) I think after that, he didn't want much to do with the music business."

 

And here's what the man had to say about the album itself:

 

"Never knew about the second release of the "Billay" version of the Album.  I did know the original album was available on Ebay for a hefty sum -  very interesting."

 

Richard Billay

January 2010

 

 

 

 

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