4.5 out of 5 Stars!
From the U.K., City Boy always reminded me of Kayak, with its similar style of Progressive/Art Rock mixed with Pop and a healthy dose of Pomp Rock, while the band’s great, wide-ranging harmony vocals would have seemed right at home on an album by Sweet or Queen.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire, the band’s fifth album, is probably the most Progressive of them all, even more so than 1977’s Dinner at the Ritz album. Not only does the collection open with the bombastic and magnificent title track, but also concludes with the ambitious, multi-part, twelve-minute epic “Ambition” (appropriately titled indeed).
With Pomp-Rock grandeur, other catchy tunes such as “It’s Only the End of the World,” “Up in the Eighties,” “Interrupted Melody,” “Modern Love Affair,” and “New York Times” simply leap out of the record’s grooves. The album’s wealth of quirky melodies and glorious background vocals floating atop the deceptively intricate instrumentation are not only loaded with charm and whimsy, but are addictively replayable. Even the synth-enhanced vocals and zany orchestration of “Machines” fully displays the band’s high level of ingenuity and pop sensibilities.
For each of the above-stated reasons, The Day the Earth Caught Fire firmly remains my favorite of all the band’s releases, and has firmly established itself in my heart as one of those “must have on a deserted island” albums.
Unfortunately, also like Kayak, City Boy remains one of the most shamefully underappreciated and overlooked groups in rock history. And for “out of the norm” music lovers still unfamiliar with this group, The Day the Earth Caught Fire is definitely the place to start your investigation.