[Review] Roger Daltrey: Original Soundtrack Recording McVicar (1980)

This soundtrack may well be the best solo record that Daltrey has made.

Kronomyth 4.0: Living McVicariously.

Given how much I’ve enjoyed this album over the years, I’m surprised I haven’t seen the film before. Shocked, really. Especially since I sat through Pete Townshend’s White City. Both were very good albums, by the way, and in a sense the early 80s were a kind of renaissance for the rest of The Who as they forged their own careers.

In comparing this to the work of that band, its closest kin would be The Who By Numbers, which offered a similar mix of ballads and rockers. Of course, the operative reference point is Roger Daltrey’s preceding solo work, and McVicar stands a bit taller than any of them. His music is only as good as the material he’s given, and this time he benefits immensely from the songwriting talents of Russ Ballard and Billy Nicholls. Just a Dream Away and Without Your Love are two of the prettiest ballads he’s recorded on his own. Free Me and McVicar rock pretty hard.

The album also includes a song from Steve Swindells, Bitter and Twisted, which turned up on Swindells’ debut album later that year, and two neat mind-candy instrumentals from Jeff Wayne that suggest a cross between Alan Parsons Project and Jethro Tull. In the player’s pit, you’ll spot a few familiar names, although where The Who appear on here isn’t obvious to me.

Ostensibly a soundtrack, McVicar is in reality the new record from Roger Daltrey and it’s a fine one. If you were to ask me which Daltrey solo you should buy first, I would probably ask you if you owned all the proper Who albums, which I realize is answering a question with another question and annoying, but eventually I’d get around to telling you to start with McVicar. I wouldn’t tell you to see the movie, though, since that would just be irresponsible.

Original elpee version

A1. Bitter and Twisted (Steve Swindells) (4:00)
A2. Just a Dream Away (Russ Ballard) (4:14)
A3. Escape Part 1 (Jeff Wayne) (3:58)
A4. White City Lights (Billy Nicholls/Jon Lind) (3:16)
A5. Free Me (Russ Ballard) (3:59)
B1. My Time Is Gonna Come (Russ Ballard) (3:20)
B2. Waiting for a Friend (Billy Nicholls) (3:23)
B3. Escape Part 2 (Jeff Wayne) (3:59)
B4. Without Your Love (Billy Nicholls) (3:17)
B5. McVicar (Billy Nicholls) (2:49)

The Players

Roger Daltrey (vocals), Ron Aspery (flute), John “Rabbit” Bundrick (keyboards), Tony Carr (percussion), Stuart Elliot (drums), John Entwistle (bass), Herbie Flowers (bass), Ken Freeman (synthesizers/keyboards), Ricky Hitchcock (guitars), Kenney Jones (drums), Dave Markee (bass), Dave Mattacks (drums), Billy Nicholls (guitars), Jo Partridge (slide, electric and acoustic guitars), Frank Ricotti (percussion), Pete Townshend (guitars), Jeff Wayne (arranger, conductor, brass arrangements) with Steve Gray (brass arrangements). Produced by Jeff Wayne. Engineered by Cy Langston, Laurence Diana and Geoff Young; mixed by Laurence Diana and Geoff Young.

The Pictures

Sleeve design by Richard Evans. Photographs by David James.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, clear vinyl elpee, cassette and 8-track in July 1980 in the UK (Polydor, POLD-5034) and the US and Canada (Polydor, PD/CT/8T-1-6284) and Japan (Polydor, MPF-1328). Reached #39 on the UK charts and #22 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in April 1995 (Polydor, 527 341).

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