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Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Stroke a Horse's Navel
Company: The Eyes Record Company
Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: textured cover
Catalog ID: 2255
I've seen this one hyped on high priced dealer lists as a psych masterpiece; a Beatlesque triumph, and as a slice of mind-warping hard rock. You probably won't be surprised to learn that it isn't any of the above.
Recorded at Cincinnati, Ohio's QCA Studios, the band themselves are a mystery since their self-produced and financed 1977 debut "Stroke a Horse's Navel" contains little in the way of performing, producing or writing credits. Production and writing credits are attributed to The Eyes and there are no performances credits. Musically this is slightly under-produced power-pop that will probably appeal to folks who like other mid-1970s Cleveland-based outfits like The Choir and Eric Carmen and the Raspberries. Originals such as 'Mornings' and 'Oh, To Be a Child Again' boasted nice top-40 melodies that with a little bit of clean-up could've been massive radio hits. That comparison isn't 100% accurate since tracks like 'Probate Me Baby', 'Yesterdays' and 'Such Is Life' were more rock-ish than what you would have found on the formers releases. I'll also tell you that it took a couple of spins for this to click with me. The first couple of times I played the album I focused on the set's shortcomings; notably the lead singer's occasionally quivering voice and the less than perfect production, but by the third spin the album's low-tech charms caught my ear making this one of the few albums I've bothered to put on CDR.
Postscript: The Eyes Record Company was incorporate in Independence, Ohio by J L. Forcina and James A. Forcina. Pure speculation on my part, but I'm guessing they were brothers and the driving forces behind the album. I'm sure someone out there knows and might be willing to share.
Horse's Naval" track listing:
1.) Charmer (The Eyes) - 3:00. rating: *** stars
'Charmer' started the album with a pretty enough ballad - imagine something out of a mid-career Ambrosia album, though the vocals couldn't begin to rival David pack and company. In fact the slightly flat and colorless vocals were the major downside to this one
2.) Goodbye Finally (The Eyes) - 2:48 . rating: *** stars
Nice breezy power pop tune that could have been a hit with a bit of additional production work.
3.) Mornings (The Eyes) - 2:47 rating: *** stars
Another highly melodic tune that had the makings of a great top-40 single but was just a bit too clunky around the edges to make it.
4.) Oh, To Be a Child Again (The Eyes) - 2:24 rating: **** stars
Hum, the band adds a bit of jangle-rock and Merseybeat to their repertoire with nice results.
5.) Probate Me Baby (The Eyes) - 2:37 rating: **** stars
'Probate Me Baby' had a nice nervous and jumpy edge that gets better and better after a couple of beers. Always liked the slightly raw guitars on this one.
6.) Yesterdays (The Eyes) - 3:57 rating: **** stars
With a slight AOR-feel and some of the cheesy '70s synthesizer washes I love, 'Yesterdays' was probably the album's most radio-ready tune. It's certainly one of the album highlights for me.
Based on the lyrics you would have thought the title was 'I'm a Loner'. Regardless, it was insidiously catchy. The song was tagged as a single.
- 1977's 'Such Is Life' b/w 'Eyes' (Eyes Record Company catalog number E1001-A/B)
2.) 509 (The Eyes) - 3:10 rating; ** stars
Eric Carmen and the Rapsberries styled big ballad that was simply too sappy and vapid for my tastes.
3.) So You've Got a Hit (The Eyes) - 3:34 . rating: *** stars
Hum, do you detect a note of envy one this one ? Wonder who inspired this three minutes of generosity? The guitar solo was hysterical.
4.) Tax Collector (The Eyes) - 3:06 rating: **** stars
The album's funniest tune - image a bit of George Harrison fiscal insight coupled with Roger Daltry anger .... Great tune, though I seriously doubt these guys had to worry about hitting the alternate minimum tax rates.
5.) Stroke a Horse's Navel (The Eyes) - 2:47 . rating: *** stars
The title track simply didn't make much of impression on me, kind of meandering around without a particularly strong, or memorable melody. Nice harmonies and the cheesy synthesizers were back.
6.) Eyes (The Eyes) - 3:13 rating: **** stars
With a Rapsberries-styled flavor, the optometry references were funny ... Nice tune.
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