From record collectors d:
If you believe the liner notes gracing 1972's "To Have a Friend", drummer Joe Antony, multi-instrumentalist Larry Evers, bassist Mike Schwelgen, and lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Kay Wohlsen came together as The Voice in 1971. The four had spent the previous seven years in different bands touring throughout Denmark, Germany, and Scandinavia.
Perhaps someone from Germany can explain this one, but as far as I can figure out their big break was the product of a European talent search sponsored by Radio Luxemburg and the Bahlsen company (best known in the States for making cookies). I don't know if this was an going contest, but the 1972 winner was The Voice with Bahlsen subsequently financing a German tour and a studio album.
That relationship would also explain the back cover photo showing the four members 'playing' a variety of baked goods ...
Musically the album offered up a mixture of popular pop and rock covers and band originals; the latter largely penned by Evers and Wohlsen. While the performances were all pretty good, if you were looking for something totally original then this wasn't the place to start. Exemplified by tracks like 'Old Man' and 'My Lucky Break' these guys wore their influences clearly on their creative sleeves - The Beatles, CSN&Y, and a host of other early-1970s FM staples. To give the band credit, unlike much of their competition, these guys actually managed to generate a bit of energy and enthusiasm on these performances and several of their original compositions were well worth hearing - check out 'I Need Sunshine' and 'Ben O'Brian'.
- 'My Lucky Break' was a peppy slice of radio-friendly rock akin to something Badfinger might have recorded (there was actually a Badfinger cover on side two). Not half bad, if a little bit on the anonymous side. rating: *** stars
- Though it didn't stray far from the original arrangement their cover of Neil Young's 'Old Man' wasn't half bad, Not to sound snide, but what made if worth hearing were the heavily accented vocals ... every time I hear the banjo segment and them singing "Old man look at my life, I'm a lord like you were ..." it brings a smile to my face. rating: *** stars
- One of the standout performances, 'I Need Sunshine' was an attractive, highly melodic rocker with some great harmony vocals and tasty lead guitar from Evers. Imagine what the band Lake would have sounded like if they'd ever managed to get their act together. rating: **** stars
- 'Little Lonely Lady' found the band pursuing a softer, acoustic sound. Not bad, though again not particularly memorable rating: ** stars
- Their cover of Roy Orbison's 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' was pleasant ... Not much more I can say about it. rating: ** stars
- In spite of the awkward English title and the slightly rugged group vocals, 'I Wonna Go Home To Mary Ann' was a nice breezy rocker with a catchy chorus and another enjoyable lead guitar solo from Evers. rating: **** stars
- Side two started with one of the album's catchier numbers. An Evers-Wohlsen original, 'Don't Let Me Down' underscored the band's affection for American, West Coast rock. The result was a nice slice of harmony-rich AOR. rating: **** stars
- 'Piggy-Land' offered up the band's strange attempt at a country-rock number. I'm not sure what the title meant and the lyrics have always been a complete mystery to me. Help from someone out there ??? rating: ** stars
- I think I read somewhere that 'Yesterday' was the rock era's most covered song. This cover added nothing to the song's legacy. rating: ** stars
- So having done a Beatles cover, why not cover a band that built a career of essentially mimicking The Fab Four? Well, their 'Baby Blue' cover was nice enough since it was essentially a straight copy of the Badfinger original. rating: ** stars
- The title track was clearly written for radio exposure, which makes it curious it doesn't seem to have been released as a single. A big, mid-tempo ballad with one of those 'inspirational' lyrics, today it sounds terribly dated, but I'll admit the pop-rock chorus wasn't bad, giving the song a certain cheesy appeal. rating: *** stars
- 'Ben O'Brian' started out as a moody, acoustic guitar propelled ballad, before suddenly morphing into a Monkees-styled jangle rock chorus. Once again the English lyric was quite interesting, though mostly for the clunky translation, but overall the song was actually kind of cool. rating: *** stars
To be perfectly honest, there was absolutely nothing particularly original or life changing on the album, which kind of left you wondering how these guys won their recording contract. On the other hand, the performances were all fairly energetic and enthusiastic which wasn't a bad attribute. I wouldn't bust a gut looking for a copy, but some folks will enjoy this one. (Turns out this one was listed in one of the Hans Pokora books -
I Wanna go Home to Mary Ann...