Released in 1988, Smell of a Friend is basically the follow-up to John Greaves' Kew. Rhone. The same collaborators, lyricist and guitarist Peter Blegvad and keyboardist/singer Lisa Herman, are present here, and even more than on the earlier album, the focus is on creating quirky, literate, but still accessible pop songs. The results throughout the album bear a striking resemblance to the mid-'80s work of the Golden Palominos (whose Anton Fier plays drums here; Blegvad was a regular contributor to the Palominos around this time). In retrospect, the album's sound is a little too precise, with a greater reliance on MIDI synths and electronic drums than is absolutely necessary; a lighter hand in the production would have kept this album from sounding quite so of-its-time. As a collection of songs, however, it's splendid, with the lengthy, atmospheric title track, "The Song," and the Steely Dan-like album closer, "Milk," among the best to come out of the Greaves/Blegvad collaboration. Largely unknown even among John Greaves and Peter Blegvad's fans (some of whom wrongly dismiss it as a cynical chartbound effort), Smell of a Friend is an album well worth rediscovery.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason