Trickster – Back To Zero [1979]

R-1749030-1259182602Country United Kingdom          

Style Melodic Rock/AOR

Rating 78/100

Band Members Phil Bates – Lead and Backing Vocals,Guitar, Michael Groth – Guitar, Colin Hewinson – Keyboards,Synths,Backing Vocals, John Fincham – Bass,Guitar,Drums,Backing Vocals, Paul Elliot – Drums,Percussion

Tracks 01. Tomorrow Belongs To Me, 02. Back To Zero, 03. You Make Me Want To Stay, 04. Road To Nowhere, 05. Bump In The Night, 06. Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone, 07. Hold On, 08. Falling For The Wrong Guy, 09. I’m Satisfied, 10. Can’t Stop Us Singing, 11. The Loser

Profile TRICKSTER was founded in Birmingham, UK around 1976 by singer Phil Bates who previously played in Kwil and other local acts (He would release the terrific album ‘Power’ with the band Atlantic in the ’90s). Trickster was signed by Jet Records, the same of ELO, so it isn’t strange that after the debut album in 1978 Trickster toured Europe supporting them. For the second LP “Back To Zero” the band turned their sound into a more sophisticated affair adding strong Melodic Rock and AOR elements to their music following the trend arriving from America at the end of the seventies. Then Trickster enjoyed some popularity on both sides of the ocean, even opening for Journey and Boston.

“Back To Zero” features very good songs with nice hooks and fine arrangements blended with lush orchestrations. The melodic tunes were enhanced by a crystal clear, polished production to appeal a wider range of listeners. Trickster reminds me here Charlie, some earlier REO Speedwagon and Toto, and in places, the Electric Light Orchestra. Opener “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” is perhaps the more British-sounding track on offer here, title track “Back To Zero” recalls the style of John Miles around the era, while the urgent “Bump In The Night” has a catchy hook all over.

My favorite tracks are the more AOR oriented tunes such as the keyboard/synth driven “Road To Nowhere” and “The Loser”, the great harmonies of “You Make Me Want To Stay” (very American sounding) and the catchiness of the Charlie-like “Can’t Stop Us Singing”. “Falling For The Wrong Guy” was the first single and is one of the highlights, a superb ballad with a grandiose melody, whilst “Time Makes A Fool Of Everyone” is a terrific track plenty of sophistication thanks to the synthesized ARP strings.

“Back To Zero” was remastered by Universal Japan some years ago and reissued only in Asia with the addition of 4 bonus tracks, mostly the hard to find single b-sides as the really good “Rock’n Roll Clown”. “Back To Zero” has aged very well and will please all the AOR / Melodic Rock fans out there. 

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