Thomas, Owen

Band members                         Related acts

- Owen Thomas -- vocals




- none known





Genre: country

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Above and Below the Line

Company: Baby Grand

Catalog: SE 1027
Year: 1977

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 128

Price: $50.00


Name sake Owen Thomas remains a complete unknown to me and I don't have a clue how he hooked up with the tax scam Baby Grand label.   Speaking of which, 1977' "Above and Below the Line" was a little bit of a change-up for the label.   Most of the Baby Grand releases I've heard over the years have had a jazzy-rock, or dance flavor.   In contrast, most of this set had a country orientation.  Thomas was credited with penning nine of the ten tracks (the liner notes and inner labels both show the songs in the wrong order), and I can only assume that he handled the lead vocals on the performances.  As mentioned, tracks like 'Put a Little Country Next To Me', ''I Feel Guilty, and 'I'm Lonely Now' reflected a conventional country flavor complete with standard country themes (drinkin', travelin' and plenty of cheatin' hearts), which simply didn't do much for my ears.  Thomas actually had a decent enough voice which occasionally sounded a bit like a young Paul Anka ('Love Me Tonight'), but it was wasted on most of the album.  Ironically, one of the best songs on the album didn't even sound like Thomas.  The pop arrangement to 'Kum Bya sounded like a totally different vocalist.  The album also included two decent rockers - the opener  'Fe Fiddle De' and the closer 'Rock 'n Roll Man' were unlike anything else on the set and only served to demonstrate what might have been.


-  At least to my ears, 'Fe Fiddle De' opened the album with the most atypical performance and the set's creative highpoint.  A straight ahead rocker with a bouncy melody, an energetic lead vocal, and perky backing vocals, this one would have sounded great on mid-1970s radio.   Nothing else on the the album came close.   rating: **** stars

- Based on the title, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that 'Put a Little Country Next To Me' was a straightforward country tune.  Not my taste, hence the low rating.   rating: * star

- 'My Woman, My Lover, My Friend' was a sappy and forgettable country ballad.  The most memorable thing about the song was that the title and the lyric didn't match - the refrain was actually "my woman, my Lover, my wife".   rating: * star

- 'I Feel Guilty' served as a textbook example of how to write a set of country lyrics - cheatin' hearts is always an apt subject !!!  rating: * star

- While I actually liked the song, 'I'm Lonely Now' was marred by an arrangement that brought out the worst facets in Thomas' voice - in trying to sound tough, he came off squeaky and out of tune.  Kind of a country Tine Turner effect ...   rating: * star

- About all I can say is that the ballad 'Love Me Tonight' was horrible.   rating: * star

- Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse, 'Country Rock 'n Roll'  appears.   Clearly meant to appeal to mid-1970s radio, this one was perfect for Donny and Marie Osmond.   Simply ghastly stuff.    rating: * star

- And then there's 'Kum Bya'.  Now this could well be another Thomas performance except for the fact the singer sounds totally different (much deeper voice) and the pop-ish feel of the song is unlike anything else on the album.  Just speculation on my part, but my guess is that the label didn't have quite enough Thomas material for the album so they padded it out with a non-Thomas studio demo they found lying around.  Funny thing is that the song was actually pretty good.   rating: *** stars

- Opening with some stinging feedback guitar (!), 'Rock 'n Roll Man' was the other atypical performance.  With a very Bonnie & Delaney-ish rock feel, the lyrics were pedestrian, but the song exhibited some much needed rock and roll energy.  Shame the tape quality was subpar.  rating: *** stars


Hardly essential ...


"Above and Below the Line" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Fe Fiddle De   (Owen Thomas) - 2:34

2.) Put a Little Country Next To Me   (Owen Thomas) - 2:05

3.) My Woman, My Lover, My Friend   (Owen Thomas) - 3:04

4.) I Feel Guilty   (Owen Thomas) - 2:47

5.) I'm Lonely Now   (Owen Thomas) - 3:29


(side 2)
1.) Love Me Tonight   (Owen Thomas) - 2:31

2.) Country Rock 'n Roll   (Owen Thomas) - 2:11

3.) Kum Bya  (public domain) - 3:15

4.) Rock 'n Roll Man'  (Owen Thomas) - 2:35