William Lyall

Solo Casting [Bonus Tracks]

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The tension between David Paton's pop songcraft and Billy Lyall's art rock aspirations is one of the things that made the band Pilot so interesting. Lyall left Pilot because he felt that Paton's twee power pop ditties were overshadowing his arty songs, but the split was amicable enough that his former bandmates played on his lone solo album, Solo Casting. The result is not very different from what a Pilot album would sound like if Paton's potential hit singles were removed. Lyall was a classically trained pianist-turned-synth player, so the main stylistic difference between Pilot and Lyall's solo effort is the prominence of the synthesizer. Lyall's song "Maniac" appears on both Solo Casting and Pilot's 1976 album Morin Heights, but in very different versions. Paton says "Don't Be Silly" is a comment on his twee songs and Pilot's teeny bopper image, but most of Lyall's lyrics are inscrutably fragmentary and abstract. "Us" and the Paul McCartney-esque tune "The Deeper You Get" show that Lyall hadn't really divorced himself from pop music, and both songs would have fit well on a Pilot record. "Sleep" closes the album with a seven-minute-long orchestral instrumental that shows off Lyall's classical training and affinity for non-rock music. Despite Pilot's roots in the Bay City Rollers, Solo Casting has more in common with less overtly commercial acts like 10cc, Lionheart-era Kate Bush, and early Brian Eno. [The 1996 edition on See for Miles adds the single versions of "Maniac" and "Solo Casting" as bonus tracks, both of which are little different from the album versions.]

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