Ian Mitchell

Lonely Nights

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Having run from the Bay City Rollers and wound up Rosetta Stone, Ian Mitchell launched his third band in four years in 1979 and entered a period of astonishing grace, as his Ian Mitchell Band cut two massive albums for the Japanese market while still playing the pubs back home in Britain. Lonely Nights, retitled from the Japanese Suddenly You Love Me, was also the only one to land a release outside of the Far East, and a deceptive beast it turned out to be. Astonishingly glossy and certainly over-produced, it reduced a clutch of songs that, live, were a wild celebration of post-glam rockerhood to a comparative puddle of goo, a failing that only one track, the landmark "Jailbait," was able to escape. There, an edgy guitar and an overdose of playtime giggles paint an extraordinarily sinister portrait of child molestation, which itself sat very uncomfortably alongside the Ian Mitchell Band's confirmed teenybop following. Pulled as a U.K. single, "Jailbait" did precisely nothing, and nobody should be too surprised about that. Elsewhere, the vista is somewhat cheerier, as further singles "Suddenly You Love Me" and "Lonely Nights" play house with the hearts of every screaming fan, while a cover of Eric Carmen's "Only Seventeen" recalls memories of Mitchell's last encounter with the ex-Raspberries songsmith's catalog, the Bay City Rollers' version of "Let's Pretend. Takes on "I Go to Pieces" and "Goin' Back," meanwhile, restate Mitchell's own solid grounding in classic pop, an influence that permeates the album in spite of the production's attempts to drown it out with slickness.

Deleted soon after release, at least some of the best of Lonely Nights -- "Jailbait" and "Goin' Back" included -- subsequently resurfaced on the Rearranged compilation CD. Arguably, picking up either album is as good as owning the other.