Review Summary: The first - and, in this reviewer's opinion, only worthwhile - album from British artist Leo Sayer.
Few people know that before Leo Sayer became the white-fro sporting King of Disco, he was an artist. It's a real shame, too, because Sayer's first release, "Silverbird" showed promise.
"Silverbird" is very dark and depressing at its heart. It's a concept album, in that the themes of isolation and sadness weave each of the songs together. The compositions (music written by David Courtney) are fairly simple, but effective, made all the stronger by Sayer's lyrics.
The album starts with "innocent Bystander", a song about chasing dreams and never fulfilling them. Then we dive right into "Goodnight Old Friend", which could either be about the loss of a relationship through death or separation, or about a person putting away their personal demons. Sayer displays a wide-vocal range, which can jump from a sweet and thin tenor to a gravelly, harsh rock voice within one song.
The break-out song on this album is "The Show Must Go On," which was made famous to US listeners by the glorified cover-band Three Dog Night. Sayer's version, however, is in my opinion much stronger. When I listen to it, it sounds to me like a circus clown singing shortly before offing everyone around him. It's a song about being trapped by one's own mistakes, and about the deadly world of show business. We then get to "The Dancer," a creepy, atmospheric piano piece, featuring Sayer's angelic falsetto, about a Dancer who takes a nasty fall from the high wire.
For all of the album's strengths, a few lame, generic songs bar it from becoming a pure classic. "Tomorrow" and "Oh What A Life" are poor attempts at rockers, and come off as forced and insincere. "Don't Tell Me That It's Over" is an alright ballad, but nothing special, and the subject matter of a lost love is definitely well-trodden ground.
I would give this album a 4 out of 5. This is a side of Sayer we only see briefly in his follow up album "Just A Boy," and then it dies, replaced by a bad disco singer who sold out. Trivia: if Roger Daltrey's first solo album wasn't rocky enough, blame Sayer - he and David Courtney wrote it!