The Arrows

The Singles Collection Plus

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Young, dark, and smoldering -- painfully good-looking and talented too -- the Arrows were the sort of band every marketing department dreams of. The problem is, dreams don't always come true. Despite a concerted two-year push that saw the Arrows gifted with everything from a songwriting team with a multi-platinum pedigree to their own prime-time television series, still the band has just two lasting claims to fame -- they scored a British Top Ten single with their first-ever release, "A Touch Too Much," and they wrote the Joan Jett anthem "I Love Rock'n'Roll." Fame does not shortchange them. Across the six singles that make up the first half of this collection, and the debut album that completes it, the Arrows are revealed as a competent, ambitious pop band, but little more. They accrue points for penning a lot of their own material, but -- "I Love Rock'n'Roll" aside -- still the best numbers were written either by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman -- of Sweet, Mud, and Smokey fame -- or Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, the team that had already tasted glory behind the Bay City Rollers and Kenny, and who would soon be touching it again with Slik. Indeed, the Arrows' version of the duo's "Boogiest Band in Town," though one of the finest tracks in the band's entire catalog, was nothing more than a cover of an earlier Slik 45. The two Chinn & Chapman A-sides that opened the Arrows' account, "A Touch Too Much" and "Toughen Up," are similarly strong, while Roger Ferris' "My Last Night With You" at least brought the band a second hit, and an impossibly catchy chorus. Elsewhere, however, the band sinks into serious AOR pop mode, with only the occasional nod toward Bad Company rock-isms to break the sequence -- even "I Love Rock'n'Roll" sounds less than sparkling in its original incarnation, while the band's final 45, "Once Upon a Time," is sonorous enough to be a Walker Brothers outtake. The First Hit album follows this same formula, again serving up a handful of memorable numbers and proving reasonably enjoyable if you don't listen too hard. But for a band whose greatest moments stretch to just a couple of songs, The Singles Collection Plus serves up more Arrows than the best-made quiver could hold.

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