Pilot


Band members                             Related acts

  line up x (1977)  

- Ian Bairnson -- guitar, bass, percussion, backing vocals

- David Paton -- vocals, bass, guitar, percussion, backing vocals

 

  supporting musicians:1977

- Trevor Spencer -- drums, percussion

- Henry Spinetti -- drums, percussion

- Steve Swindells -- keyboards

 

 

- Bay City Rollers (William Layall and David Paton)

- Beagle Hat (David Paton)

- The Boots (David Paton)

- Camel (David Paton and Stuart Tosh)

- Christyan (David Paton)

- Keats (Ian Bairnson and David Paton)

- William Lyall (solo efforts)

- Panarama (Ian Bairnson)

- The Alan Parsons Project (Ian Bairnson and David Paton)

- David Paton (solo efforts)

- 10 c.c. (Stuart Tosh)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Two's a Crowd

Company: Arista/EMI Electrola

Catalog:  LC 3484
Year:
 1977

Country/State: Edinburgh, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $50.00

 

 

Produced by Alan Parsons, 1977's "Two's a Crowd" served as Pilot's fourth studio album and their final release for what would be some twenty-five years.  With the departure of the drummer Stuart Tosh (who promptly reappeared as a member of 10c.c), the collection found Pilot down to a duo showcasing singer/multi-instrumentalist David Paton and guitarist Ian Bairnson.  Additional support was brought aboard in the form of keyboard player Steve Swindells and drummers Trevor Spencer and Henry Spinetti,  Interestingly with Paton and Bairnson splitting writing chores, the results weren't a major change from the band's patented brand of commercial pop, but it made for their most consistent and enjoyable (if least successful) album.  With Parsons producing, ballad heavy tracks like 'Library Door,' 'The Other Side' and 'Monday Tuesday' were melodic and quite commercial - occasionally reminding me of their forthcoming work as members of The Alan Parsons Project.  For the most part their more up-tempo numbers were stronger.  'Ten Feet Tall' and 'Mr. Do It or Die' were great while the single 'Get Up and Go' was a clear successor to their earlier 'Magic' and 'January' chart successes (though it did little commercially).  All told it made for an album of well crafted, adult oriented pop music.  Unfortunately their timing could not have been worse.  With audiences diving headlong into punk, new wave and disco, sweet ballads like the teen tragedy tale 'One Good Reason Why' and glistening should've-been-a-hit 'Get Up and Go' were uniformly ignored by the public and radio.  Even the band's occasional nods to popular tastes such as the disco-tinged 'There's a Place' were greeted with disdain.  

 

With the album quickly vanishing into cutout bins, Bairnson and Paton joined The Alan Parsons Project, while also finding time to play with Keats and on a myriad of albums including working with Kate Bush, Chris de Burgh, and Alan Parsons Project side-kick Lenny Zakatek.

  

"Two's a Crowd" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Get Up and Go    (David Paton) - 3:33  rating: **** stars

Sporting a glistening ear-candy melody, Paton's instantly recognizable nasally voice, and those handclaps, 'Get Up and Go' was a classic slice of Pilot pop.  In fact, it seemed to share the same roots as their classic hits 'Magic' and 'January.'  Shame that in an era of punk, new wave and disco, radio had no interest in the group.  YouTube has a live performance from a 2016 appearance in Japan: Get Up and Go / Pilot - YouTube  Arista tapped it as the album's second single:

- 1977's 'Get Up and Go' b/w 'One Good Reason Why' (Arista catalog number AS 0259)

2.) Library Door    (David Paton) - 3:34 rating: **** stars

Built on a mesmerizing Bairnson acoustic guitar riff, 'Library Door' was another pretty ballad.  I'm not a Pilot fanatic so the band's inner workings and relationships are largely a mystery to me.  Perhaps urban myth, but the song was supposedly inspired by Paton and the late Billy Lyall's first encounter.  The lyrics were certainly personal and yes, they first met at an Edinburgh library.

3.) Creeping Around at Midnight   (Ian Bairnson) - 2:50  rating: **** stars

In a much needed change, 'Creeping Around at Midnight' found the band upping the rock/good time quotient a touch.  The lyric was a bit creepy, but I've always loved the baritone backing vocals and Swindells' cheesy keyboards and synthesizers.

4.) One Good Reason Why   (Ian Bairnson) - 3:34  rating: **** stars

One of the prettiest ballads they ever wrote, 'One Good Reason Why' was a nice addition to "teenage tragedy" catalog / car accident victim subcategory.  You can just hear sensitive young English majors losing it on this one.  Always loved the Beach Boys styled harmonies that ended the track.  Brian Wilson would approve.

5.) There's a Place   (Ian Bairnson) - 3:38  rating: ** stars

The first disappointment, 'There's a Place' was certainly radio friendly, but found the group steering a little too close to a disco-flavored sound.  

6.) The Other Side    (David Paton) - 3:54  rating: *** stars

Another pretty ballad on an album awash in them, 'The Other Side' showcased Paton's sweet voice and Bairnson's acoustic guitar work. Here it just kind of got lost amongst the rest of the set, though Bairnson's solo was awesome.

 

(side 2)

1.) Monday Tuesday   (Ian Bairnson) - 4:07 rating: ** stars

Cloying and saccharine, 'Monday Tuesday' offered up the album's sappiest ballad.  Imagine Eric Carmen at his best, or Paul McCartney at his absolute worst.  YouTube has a live performance from a November 2016 performance in Osaka, Japan: Pilot - Monday Tuesday Live@AbenoRockTown - YouTube   Gawd only knows why it was tapped as an English single.

 

 

 

 

- 1977's 'Monday Tuesday' b/w 'Evil Eye' (Arista catalog number ARISTA 139)

 

 

 

 

2.) Ten Feet Tall   (David Paton) - 3:21  rating: **** stars

Given the band's penchant for ballads, anything else was a welcome change of pace.  Interestingly, the quirky, up-tempo 'Ten Feet Tall' has always reminded me of something out of the 10c.c. catalog.  Perhaps somewhat ironic given drummer Stewart Tosh had just left Pilot to join 10c.c.  Another track tapped as a single:

- 1977's 'Ten Feet Tall' b/w 'One Good Reason' (Arista catalog number ARISTA 155)

3.) Evil Eye   (David Paton) - 3:48   rating: *** stars

Maybe I'd been listening to too much Al Stewart since 'Evil Eye' has always reminded me of a Stewart performance.  Interestingly Paton chimed in about the song on a YouTube post: "Iím not gay, I never have been, if I was gay Iíd have no trouble saying so. Evil Eye is about Pilotís corrupt managers. The first verse of this song describes my wife and I being very happy together despite the worries created by the management. I then go on to sing about Pilots managers and how they were evil and only saw Pilot as a money making machine, they used us to build their empire, but their empire collapsed because of their greed and evil minds. I managed to take control of my Pilot earnings and my contract with the management expired. I stumbled blindly for my goal and achieved it despite them sending me chain letters and telling me Iíd never work again."

4.) Mr. Do or Die   (David Paton) - 3:31   rating: **** stars

Pilot trotting out their dancing shoes with some surprisingly biting lyrics.  Always wondered if the song was aimed at former member Billy Lyall.  This was another one where Paton discussed the track via a YouTube posting: "Ok, Billy was upset that only my songs were released as singles, didnít bother me whoís songs were singles. So he left the band, I lost the guy whoís songwriting inspired me to write better songs. I tried very hard to convince him he was making a mistake, he wanted to prove he could be successful on his own and the evil management encouraged him because they saw another record deal and advance they could get their hands on. I was bitter and upset because I could see the end of Pilot when he left. He did become a bit of a monster with the success of Pilot. Billy was gay, Iím definitely not. He stayed in his closet for a while (hide your lover). In 1986 After realizing his mistakes, he asked me to get the band back together again, I said no."

5.) Big Screen Kill   (Ian Bairnson) - 4:30  rating: *** stars

With a distinctive Beatle-esque vibe I always felt 'Big Screen Kill' was a not-so-subtle comment about needless on-screen violence.  I'm sure I'm reading way too much into the lyric.

 

Who knows what the marketing concept was, but in 2002 the Japanese Cool-a-Pop label an album entitled "Blue Yonder" (Cool-a-Pop catalog number COAP-501).  The CD was also released in the US by the Jak label (Jak catalog 2202).  The album featured rerecorded versions of most of the songs from "Two's Company" - the new versions stripped of much of Andrew Powell's elaborate orchestration.  The album also featured different cover art and a slightly modified track listing.   Dropped were 'There's a Place', 'Mr. Do or Die' and 'Big Screen Kill.'  Added to the album were 'I Wonder', 'When the Sun Comes' and a live version of 'Hold Me.'

 

 

 

 

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