Bay City Rollers

Once Upon a Star

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On their second album, the Bay City Rollers attempted to break away from their image as pop puppets by taking on a greater portion of the behind-the-scenes chores. Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood wrote seven of the album's 12 songs (lead singer Les McKeown also contributed to two of them), and the band also performs the majority of the instrumental work themselves on the album's surprisingly complex arrangements, which include such instruments as a mandolin, a violin, and even an accordion. The result of these labors is a well-crafted album of lightweight but charming pop that covers an impressive range of musical styles: "La Belle Jeane" is a French-styled ballad, "My Teenage Heart" is a '50s-style pop tune reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, and "Once Upon a Star" is a surprisingly Beatlesque slice of orchestrated pop. The album's biggest hits were the cover songs "Bye Bye Baby" and "Keep on Dancing," but the group's self-penned tunes are well written and catchy in their own right and make excellent company for the hits. Good examples of the group's homegrown work include "Angel Baby," a tribute to the Phil Spector sound with a castanet-driven beat, and "Marlina," a lovely ballad about a daydreaming girl that highlights Faulkner's skill with the mandolin. While it may not win over listeners who dislike sugary pop music, Once Upon a Star shows that the Bay City Rollers stood out from the rest of the teen idol pack because of their skills as writers and instrumentalists.

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