Living in a Fantasy is the last album to yield hits for Leo Sayer in America, closing out the terrific '70s run as the '80s began. A-ha/Bow Wow Wow/Squeeze producer Alan Tarney chooses to keep the production slick and sparse, the large mix of musicians who helped craft albums like Thunder In My Heart, Endless Flight, Here, World Radio, and others vanishes as the singer goes back to the pared-down format of his Just a Boy period. The big difference is that Sayer had gone beyond the singer/songwriter personality of those early recordings to having marquee value, as well as his own TV show. Songs here like "You Win, I Lose are bouncy pop, this one like five others composed by the singer and his producer. Tarney does three other songs on his own, with the Curtis/Allison number "More Than I Can Say" the only material from another source. That song would climb to number one on the U.S. adult contemporary charts, almost doing the same on the Top 40, stopping one shy of becoming his third number one record. The production of the hit is elegant and polished, sounding a bit like "Raining in My Heart" from the Leo Sayer disc, which should have been as big as this. The Hipgnosis sleeve design and multiple collages are all very hip, and give this techno-looking record a clarity missing from much of the previous packaging. "Millionaire" could be Gino Vanelli gone total pop, slick and stripped-down dance rock that could have hit the clubs easier than the forced feel of the Thunder in My Heart album. Tarney is careful to keep the stylish density of Richard Perry's work involved here. "Once in a While" benefits from the mixture of middle-of-the-road melody meeting trendy sounds. The title track, "Living in a Fantasy," also has those qualities and was the last hit, just breaking the Top 25 in 1981. "She's Not Coming Back," and "Only Foolin' are slick entries that work while Alan Tarney's "Let Me Know" is very strong, not only as a song but as a production and performance. Definitely a satisfying project by the character who brought some unique and clever music to radio.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione