This was the debut album for Smokie, an English quartet who were a pet project for legendary English pop producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Although their unique blend of country-rock and pop would soon make Smokie a big success in Europe, their style comes off as tentative and unfocused on Pass It Around. The group's instrumental performance is tight and their Beach Boys-meet-Sweet vocal harmonies are quite pleasing to the ear but their songwriting abilities are not up to snuff. Too many of the songs are weighed down with lightweight lyrics: "It Makes Me Money" is a petulant jab at rock critics, and "A Day at the Mother-in-Law's" is a gimmicky novelty tune that wears out its welcome after the first listen. The worst offender in this respect is "Headspin," a song that wastes its catchy central country-rock riff on a silly lyric about getting drunk. Other songs feel more like loose collections of riffs than fully realized compositions: "Goin' Tomorrow" rides its galloping guitar riff into the ground through endless repetition, and "I Do Declare" runs into the same problem despite a catchy chorus. Despite this problem, echoes of the group that Smokie would eventually become shine through here and there: "Daydreamin'" works an infectious harmony-driven chorus into a likable guitar-fueled melody and the surprisingly complex arrangement of "Don't Turn Out Your Light" weaves serpentine guitar lines and a chorus built on escalating harmonies into a beguiling little pop tune. In the end, though, the inconsistent moments outweigh the solid tunes. Thus, Pass It Around can only be recommended to the Smokie completist.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco