Steve Allen

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British vocalist Steve Allen is mostly associated with two different bands, the reflective Original Mirrors and Deaf School, a Liverpool unit which seems like it named itself in order to arm future critics.…
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British vocalist Steve Allen is mostly associated with two different bands, the reflective Original Mirrors and Deaf School, a Liverpool unit which seems like it named itself in order to arm future critics. The latter group was formed by Allen in 1976 and is considered a good example of mid-'70s English art rock. That doesn't exactly explain why Allen and his associates turned to the nostalgic song craft of the great Tin Pan Alley era for their inspiration, but it does represent an alternative to the punk direction that inspired a variety of other British bands from this period. A host of musicians were enrolled in the Deaf School such as vocalist Bette Bright, guitarist and pianist Clive Langer, keyboardist Max Ripple, bassist and pianist Steve Lindsey, drummer Tim Whittaker, saxophonist Ian Ritchie, vocalist Eric Shark, and talented multi-instrumentalist Paul Pilnick, who handled guitar, accordion, bass and even some banjo. An ambitious double album entitled Second Honeymoon was the group's first recorded venture, and critics of the time drew comparisons to Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, and Kurt Weill, none of them slouches.

A pair of similar albums followed and then the bandmembers dropped out of Deaf School. Allen had made no dent in the sad direction of commercial music in the '70s, which could definitely be said to be moving away from the concepts of Porter and/or Weill. The singer had utilized the stage name of Enrico Cadillac with Deaf School, but went back to his real name for his next band venture, Original Mirrors. Ian Broudie, who later fronted the crackling Lightning Seeds and worked with the sensitive Care, was also involved with this new band. So was Langer, who also made solo albums around this time and went on to become a producer, as well as drummer Peter Kircher, keyboardist Jonathan Perkins and bassist Phil Spalding. Once again this was a Liverpool-based combo, but this time around the influences were glam and power pop. Two Original Mirrors recordings were released in 1980 and 1981; it was apparently not a mirror that record buyers wanted to gaze into, and both were duds. For a few years, Allen continued as a solo, backed by the Boxes, presumably a band and not something a moving company sent over. The Tremblars, a largely forgotten project involving Herman's Hermits' leader Peter Noone, put out a CBS album in 1980 that included some Allen vocal work. He holds his own with the charismatic Noone as the recording unwinds, which is certainly a compliment for any rock singer.