At a time when punk rock and new wave were sweeping the music charts, Birmingham, England-based quintet, City Boy, produced melodic, hook-laden, progressive rock tunes. Despite placing two songs, "5--7--0--5," and "The Day the Earth Caught Fire," the title track of their 1979 album, in the British Top Ten, the band failed to capitalize on their commercial success and disbanded in 1981. According to The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, City Boy is remembered for their "strong identification with progressive rock and funk-oriented tracks." The inspiration for City Boy was sparked in the early '60s when lead vocalists Steve Broughton and Lol Mason met in prep school. In 1964,Mason befriended 12-string guitarist and bongo player Max Thomas. Two years later, Broughton,Mason, and Thomas recorded an acoustic album. left school and began writing songs together. WhenThomas left to attend Suffolk University shortly afterwards, he lost touch with Broughton and Mason. By the time they reestablished their relationship, in 1969, Thomas had suffered several nervous breakdowns and was confined to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. Broughton, Mason, and acoustic guitarist Chris would pick him up each evening to spend the night jamming together. As an acoustic group, "Back-in-the-Band," the musicians began playing semi-regularly in a folk club, The Cherry Trees. In 1973, the group, renamed City Boy, was signed by the Vertigo label with the stipulation that they add an electric guitarist (Mike Slamer) and a drummer (Roger Kent). Their debut album, Mark I, was released three years later. Their first single, "Hap-Ki-Do," reached number 32 on the British charts. Kent was replaced by Roy Ward in 1978, shortly before the band embarked on a four-month tour of the United States as opening act for Hall And Oates. Although they signed with Atlantic for U.S. and Canada distribution, the days of City Boy were practically over. Despite moving to New York State, the band began to splinter with the departure of Broughton and Chris. Shortly after releasing a single on their own City Boy label in 1982, the group disbanded.
On this album, the band focuses on the glam rock sound of the mid- to late-'70s (swirling guitars, high-pitched harmonies) on tracks like "Dear Jean (I'm Nervous)" and "The Man Who Ate His Car," butCity Boy maintains its soft rock sound with light keyboard touches and soft vocals on songs such as "One After Two" and the title track. Young Men Gone West has an interesting, albeit uneven, mix of songs that doesn't have the same quirky, eclectic feel of the first two albums -- but it is a worthy effort nonetheless. AMG.
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