Starry Eyed and Laughing

Band members                          Related acts

  line up 1 (1973) as The Chymes

- Ross McGeeney -- vocals, lead guitar

- Tony Poole -- vocals, guitar


  line up 2 (1974) as Starry Eyed and Laughing

- Nick Brown -- drums, percussion

- Steve Hall -- bass

- Ross McGeeney -- vocals, lead guitar

- Tony Poole -- vocals, guitar


  line up 3 (1974-75)

- Tony Poole -- vocals, guitar 

- Ross McGeeney -- vocals, lead guitar

- Michael Wackford -- drums, percussion (replaced Nick Brown) 

- Iain Whitmore -- bass, backing vocals (replaced  Steve Hall)  


  line up 4 (1975-76)

- Roger Kelly -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Ross McGeeney) 

- Steve Lewis -- bass (replaced Iain Whitmore )

- Tony Poole -- vocals, guitar 

- Michael Wackford -- drums, percussion (replaced Nick Brown) 




- Astrology (Michael Wackford)

- The Falcons (Tony Poole and Iain Whitmore) 

- Kites (Iain Whitmore)

- Patches (Iain Whitmore)

- Roses (Michael Wackford)

- Starry Eyed

- Streetband (Roger Kelly)

- The Sun  (Tony Poole and Iain Whitmore)

- Violinski (Iain Whitmore)

- Iain Whitmore (solo efforts)





Genre: pop

Rating: **** ( 4 stars)

Title:  Starry Eyes & Laughing

Company: CBS

Catalog: 80450

Year: 1973

Country/State: Northampton, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: UK pressing; JEM import sticker on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4803

Price: $25.00

Cost: $16.00



Singer/guitarists Ross McGeeney and Tony Poole started their musical collaboration while they were still in school.  As The Chymes, they debuted at a school function, starting their professional musical careers working as a folk-rock duo on the Northampton club circuit, supplementing their income by panhandling for change in the London subway system.  By 1974 the group had expanded to include drummer Nick Brown and studio owner/bassist Steve Hall.  They'd also abandoned Northampton in favor of London, where their act quickly began to attract word-of-mouth attention and a eventually a recording contract with CBS.  Before the could actually go into the studio to record, the band underwent a personnel shakeup with Brown and Hall being replaced by Mick Wackford and Iain Whitmore.


I'm a big believer in the old adage 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' and it's clear that these guys were working under a major Roger McGuinn fixation.   In most cases such an obvious stylistic cop would have been a disaster but these guys had the chops and enthusiasm to pull it off.  All hyperbole aside, 1974's Dan Loggins produced "Starry Eyed & Laughing" may be the best Byrds album ever recorded by a British band ...  With guitarists McGeeney and Poole providing the majority of material (four songs each) and bassist Whitmore kicking in two more, material such as 'Going Down', ''Lady Came from the South and 'Never Say Too Late' simply dripped with mid-1960s Byrds influences.  Propelled by Poole's 12 string Rickenbacker (which really did echo McGuinn's spidery 'Eight Miles High' catalog), occasional country-rock touches (courtesy of B.J. Cole's pedal steel guitar) and the band's close knit harmonies, virtually any one of the twelve tracks would have made a great single.  CBS actually tapped the collection for two 45s: 



- 'Money Is No Friend of Mine' b/w 'See Your Face' (CBS catalog number S CBS 2686)

- 'Nobody Home' b/w 'Closer to You Now' (CBS catalog number S CBS 3036)


While the album did nothing in the States, it's a stunning debut well worth digging around for.


"Starry Eyed & Laughing" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Going Down   (Ross McGeeney) - 3:05

2.) Closer To You Now   (Ross McGeeney) - 3:45

3.) Money Is No Friend of Mine   (Tony Poole) - 3:28

4.) Lady Came from the South   (Tony Poole) - 3:37

5.) Oh What?   (Tony Poole) - 3:00

6.) See Your Face   ( Ross McGeeney - Tony Poole - Iain Whitmore) - 3:08


(side 2)
1.) Nobody Home   (Tony Poole) - 2:35

2.) 50/50 (Better Stop Now)  (Iain Whitmore) - 3:40

3.) Living In London   ( Ross McGeeney - Tony Poole) - 

4.) Never Say Too Late   (Iain Whitmore) - 

5.) In the Madness   ( Ross McGeeney) - 3:00

6.) Everybody   ( Ross McGeeney) - 5:50



Genre: pop

Rating: **** ( 4 stars)

Title:  Tough Talk

Company: Columbia

Catalog: PC-33837

Year: 1975

Country/State: Northampton, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor crease bottom right corner; promo stamp on the back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6318

Price: $15.00

Cost: $66.00


Produced by Dan Loggins (Kenny's brother), 1975's "Thought Talk" wasn't a major departure from the band's 1974 debut, though his time around Columbia agreed to release the set in the States.  As on the debut album all four members (singer/guitarists Ross McGeeney and Tony Poole, drummer Michael Wackford, and bassist Iain Whitmore) contributed to the writing chores.  Once again they wore their musical influences on their sleeves, but if you were going to be influenced by outside bands then you could certainly could have done worse than The Byrds, or a wide array of '70s American country-rockers.  Tracks such as Poole's Rickenbacker propelled jangle rocker 'One Foot In the Boat' and 'Flames In the Rain' retained a distinctive Byrds-feel.  In fact, the latter may be one of the best Byrds song Roger McGuinn never wrote. ...   That said, these guys were more than McGuinn clones.  'Good Love' and 'Keep It To Yourself ' were strong rockers, while 'Since I Lost You' offered up more than competent country-rock.  Packaged with strong melodies and some gorgeous vocal harmonies ('Down the Street'), it was the kind of sophomore release most bands could only dream about.  


back cover photo left to right:   McGeeney - Whitmore - Poole - Wackford (back)


- Opening up with some great McGeeney and Poole lead guitar, 'Good Love' has always reminded me of an English version of Eric Carmen and the Raspberries - had that band ever recorded a really good rock song, or perhaps a rougher version of The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver.  With an instantly catchy melody and some sterling harmony vocals, the song was tapped as a single, though its hard to see how radio overlooked this charmer.   rating: **** stars

- Kicked along by some by Poole's Byrds-styled 12 string Rickenbacker guitar and a lead vocal that bore an uncanny resemblance to Roger McGuinn, 'One Foot In Boat' actually sounded like a lost Byrds masterpiece.  The song also sported what I think is a great anti-suicide lyric.  rating: **** stars

- A country-rock tinged ballad that again displayed more than a litle  Byrds inspiration, 'Since I Lost You' was a complete winner.  With an insidiously catchy refrain, some giddy banjo, and one of McGeeney's prettiest solos, this was one of the album highlights.   rating: ***** stars

- Another winning ballad, 'Down the Street' was the kind of song a band like The Sutherland Brothers would have killed to get their hands on.  Top-40 was literally written all over it had Columbia marketing only been listening.   rating: ***** stars

- Sounding like something taken out of the Dan Fogelberg catalog (the vocal actually reminded me of The Eagles Timothy B. Schmidt), Fools' Gold' was a pretty enough slice of singer/songwriter angst.  Unfortunately, coming on the heels of a string of ballads, it served to slow the proceedings down a tad too much.  rating: *** stars

- A catchy slice of America-styled pop, 'Believe' had a pretty melody, nice harmonies, and one of McGeeney's sweetest solos.   rating: *** stars

- It's always struck me as funny that these guys were initially considered part of the early-1970s pub rock wave.  Listening to 'Keep It To Yourself ' you'll understand why.  A rollicking slice of pub rock, this was easily as good as anything a band like Ace, Bees Like Honey, or Chilli Willi ever recorded.    rating: **** stars

- The album's most commercial composition, 'Don't Give Me a Hard Time' was a breezy pop track with a glistening melody and bouncy, upbeat lyrics.  Their strong harmony vocals and McGeeney's Fender were prominently displayed throughout.   rating: **** stars

- Revisiting their The Byrds inspiration, 'Flames In the Rain' was my choice for standout performance.  A blazing rocker showcasing Whitmore's fuzz bass and McGeeney's tasteful Fender, it's always been hard to shake this one out of my head.   rating: ***** stars

- The title track instrumental was the album's strangest composition, but also one of the most intriguing.  Ever heard one of those David Crosby tracks on a CSN, or CSN&Y LP ?  Something like 'Guinevere' ?  Well, this had the same floating, pseudo-jazzy vibe ...  Complete with gorgeous harmony vocals it was one of those tracks you unexpectedly found yourself humming.  rating: **** stars


The album was tapped for a UK single:



- 'Good Love' b/w 'Down the Street' (CBS catalog number S CBS 3455)


Virtually every one of these ten tracks was worth hearing.  Curiously, while the featured UK and US releases featured the same track listing, the US release sported a different mix.   


"Thought Talk" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Good Love   (Starry Eyed & Laughing) - 4'55

2.) One Foot In the Boat   (Tony Poole) - 4:17

3.) Since I Lost You   (Iain Whitmore) - 4:53

4.) Down the Street   (Ross McGeeney) - 4:13

5.) Fools' Gold   (Iain Whitmore) - 4:45


(side 2)
1.) Believe   (Ross McGeeney) - 6:00

2.) Keep It To Yourself   (Starry Eyed & Laughing) - 3:40

3.) Don't Give Me a Hard Time   (Ross McGeeney) - 3:46

4.) Flames In the Rain   (Tony Poole - Iain Whitmore) - 5:38

5.) Thought Talk (instrumental) - 5:06


Originally envisioned as an extensive tour of American colleges fell apart, leaving the band to scramble for dates, along the way seeing Poole electrocuted during an Atlanta performance and much of their equipment stolen in New York.   The 37 dates they did undertake, including opening for the likes of Flo and Eddie and Weather Report attracted critical praise, but whatever momentum they accumulated vanished when hey returned to the UK and founding member McGeeney quit (or depending on whom you listen to, was fired).  Former August singer/guitarist Roger Kelly replaced him, only to see bassist Whitmore quit.  Whitmore was replaced by Steve Lewis.   McGeeney rejoined the band under the abbreviated name Starry Eyed, the band soldiered on, releasing a couple of tracks that had been recorded with Flo and Eddie during their earlier US tour:



- 1976's  'Song of the Road' b/w 'Don't Give Me a Hard Time' (CBS catalog number S CBS 4577). 

- 1977's 'Saturday' b/w 'Believing' (CBS catalog number S CBS 4805)


For anyone interested, there's an extensive Starry Eyed and Laughing website at: