When British songwriters John Carter and Jill Shakespeare wrote “Beach Baby” in 1974, Carter, an experienced jingles writer and session man, immediately saw the song’s commercial potential and called in fellow session musicians Tony Burrows and Chas Mills to record it. The song, which sounded like a 1970s disco rewrite of an old Beach Boys song, became a big international hit in 1974 and the First Class were born, and with bassist and vocalist Robin Shaw added, the group toured the song and the resulting album, simply called The First Class. But both Carter and Burrows were committed session rats (Carter earlier with the Flower Pot Men and later with the Ivy League while Burrows headed the studio bands the Brotherhood of Man and Edison Lighthouse, among others), and in time the touring band became a confusing assortment of session players who just happened to be available for the gig. But there was a hit song and money to be made, which is pretty much the history of the band -- the song came first. This set contains the first album from 1974 and the second album, SST, which was released two years later in 1976. It’s all a kind of very professionally recorded, somewhat over the top sunshine bubblegum pop, with “Beach Baby” easily being the best and most memorable of the lot, although the sunny “Funny How Love Can Be,” the impossibly positive “Life Is Whatever You Want It to Be,” and the jaunty, faux Caribbean track “Ain’t No Love” all have their moments. Carter released a host of other one-off singles under the First Class name, so this isn't everything, but it's probably plenty enough for most casual listeners.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett