Rising from the ashes of pub rock band Ducks Deluxe, the Motors began life as Status Quo lite, a boogie band with better ideas and hooks than other bands in the same mold. Led by talented singer/songwriters Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster, the Motors' 1977 self-titled debut sounded better on paper than it did on the home stereo. Scoring a semihit with the single "Dancing the Night Away" was a surprise to all, but certainly gave Virgin enough confidence to back a second album. When Approved by the Motors hit the shelves in 1978, the band had become one of the finest pop/rock bands in the U.K., refining their sound (the boogie was nowhere to be found) and writing songs filled with great melodies. Garvey and McMaster's harmonies had become as unique as fellow popsters Difford & Tilbrook's, although the Motors sound was far more gritty than the duo from Squeeze. Even lead guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky and drummer Ricky Slaughter seemed to have an expanded role in the sound of the band. Standout tracks like "Forget About You," "Sensation," "Soul Redeemer," and the beautiful "Today" were the heart and soul of this fabulous sophomore release, and the album even garnered them a bonafide hit with "Airport." Finally, the band had found a niche and proudly shared record bins with other like-minded U.K. pop bands including the Records, Yachts, Interview, and others. By the time the keyboard-heavy Tenement Steps appeared on the shelves in 1980, Garvey and McMaster were still at the helm, but Tchaikovsky and Slaughter had abandoned ship (for a solo career and session work, respectively). Surrounded by a bank of synthesizers and other various keyboards, they created an album that lacked the character of their previous release, but had enough quirky qualities to keep it afloat, including the awesome "Love and Loneliness," "That's What John Said," and the title track. A year later, the Motors had come to a halt and Garvey and McMaster went their separate ways. In 1994, the band's career was reappraised with the worthwhile Airport: The Motors' Greatest Hits compilation featuring all the songs mentioned above as well as other hits, album tracks, and B-sides. A top-notch introduction to a band worth your while.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Schnee