Gilbert O'Sullivan

Back to Front

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A sudden switch in image accompanied Gilbert O'Sullivan's second album, 1972's Back to Front and its simultaneously released separate single "Alone Again (Naturally)." Gone was the mischievous little scamp sporting a jaunty cap and hand-me-down tweeds, in was a slick, hairy-chested lothario and along with this visual makeover came an aural overhaul, with O'Sullivan's sprightly show tune-inspired pop sounding slicker than before. And it's not just that Back to Front is given a gloss that would not have seemed out of place on a televised variety show from 1972, it's that O'Sullivan is taking great care to write sprightly theatrical tunes, songs that take great pride in their clever-clever twists, smiling, crowd-pleasing melodies, and the proudly cheeky sentimentality that drips off of “Clair,” to name the most obvious example here. In many ways, the unabashed showbiz cheer of Back to Front trumps the bedsit introspection of Himself: in his heart Gilbert O’Sullivan is a song-and-dance man possessing a way with a snappy hook or tearjerking melody, qualities that are amply -- and charmingly -- displayed here. [Salvo's 2012 reissue of Back to Front is remastered, has its fair share of expanded packaging, and adds three bonus tracks: the smash hit single "Alone Again (Naturally)" and its flip side "Save It," and the single "Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day."]

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