Laughing Dogs Twofer
The Laughing Dogs emerged from the New York underground scene of the 1970s and even appeared on the Live at CBGB anthology. Yet unlike edgier contemporaries Patti Smith, Ramones, Talking Heads and Television, the Dogs were primarily a power pop band big on harmonies, admired for their musicianship as well as their songwriting skills. The majority of their songs were written by frontmen Ronnie Carle (vocals and bass) and James Leonard (vocals and guitar). Keyboardist Carter Catchcart and drummer Moe Potts rounded out the lineup. As the online guide All Music points out, "If Billy Joel's Glass Houses album had been recorded by a group with street cred, that band would have been the Laughing Dogs." American Beat and Collectors' Choice bring fans their first two Columbia albums for the first time on CD. Featured are the songs "Get 'Em Out of Town," "Reason For Love," "No Lies," "It's Alright," "Round and Round," "Zombies," "Formal Letter," "Reach Out for Me" and "Johnny Contender."
For a brief, glorious time, it looked like a London band named The Fabulous Poodles might make it big. This pub-rock-turned-new-wave outfit's Stateside debut album, 1978's John Entwhistle-produced Mirror Stars, outsold debut albums by the Jam and the Clash. Emerging from the London scene that begat bands like Deaf School and the Kurssal Flyers, the Poodles gained little traction in the States despite the radio- and MTV-ready title track and tours with the Ramones and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. The 1979 album Think Pink was similarly inspired, mixing the energy of the Kinks and the Who with a touch of Bonzo Dog Band absurdity, but failed to ignite commercially. The American Beat twofer contains "Mirror Stars," "Chicago Boxcar," Toytown People," "Work Shy," the Everly Brothers' "Man With the Money" and "Pink City Twist."
Fronted by Nine Below Zero leader Dennis Greaves and featuring former Fabulous Poodles keyboardist Chris Skornia and guitarist Mick Lister, The Truth emerged from the London pub-rock scene to hit their stride with a mod pop/soul sound similar to that of The Jam and Style Council. Playground, their 1985 debut album for I.R.S. Records, rates four stars in All Music. The album features the soulful singles "Spread a Little Sunshine" and "Exception of Love." The Truth went on to record the rockin' Weapons of Love album, gleaning album-rock airplay in the U.S. But Playground is a notable document of London pub-rock in the '80s, and a pleasant diversion from the emerging American indie-rock sounds for which I.R.S. was doggedly best known.
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