One can almost instantly recall the U.S. hit by Pilot – “Magic” (as in “Oh oh oh it’s magic…”. Not quite glam rock, not prog rock; produced by Alan Parsons before anyone had really heard of him. Did you find the vocals annoying? I remember my friends making fun of it – too ‘pop’ for us ‘progressive people’. So, a memorable single – then off my radar for 20 years.
Yes, I think I recognized their names on “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” by The Alan Parsons Project. Yep, that’s them on the first few records by Kate Bush. A couple of years ago, I found an LP by Billy Lyall, “Solo Casting” (EMI UK) – and that started the gears turning, as regards Pilot. No, I didn’t have any Pilot records – I may have had one of two cuts on “70’s” samplers (“Magic and “January”, most likely), but…
After finding the Billy Lyall solo album, I turned up a copy of Pilot’s “Morin Heights” on a visit to the state of Washington. From that album, I love the glorious non-hit single “Canada” – comparing the ‘great white north’ to California, my home state. Close, but no cigar, Pilot men!
In 2003, I went to Japan and began to experience my own personal renaissance of British 70’s “Glam Rock”, which, in turn, directed me towards a lot of British 70’s pop music that I had overlooked at the time. When I make my “mix tapes” of UK 70’s ‘glam rock’, I try and include some things that are ‘similar’ – and Pilot fits the bill exactly.
It is fairly amusing to read that some of them started out as members of the Bay City Rollers – it could truly be a case of the ‘image’ they were attempting to create worked against them. Those matching sweaters!
Still, some of it sounds pretty good in 2007. It’s all played by humans – there are synthesizers, but you definitely get the feeling that they were being played by a skilled keyboard player (Billy Lyall) – no sequencers here!
So, I am enjoying listening to Pilot. I’m not going to “collect” them – wouldn’t mind finding original UK pressings of their LP’s, but…not going to chase ‘em. I am a casual listener to their works. I am entitled to be a casual listener, on occasion, eh? Y’know, when a “Best Of” fits the bill? File under: “Oh, this is better than I thought it was”.
Of course, their final album on Arista was recently made into a little paper album cover (kami) CD in Japan – no, I didn’t see it when I visited Japan recently. I probably would’ve picked it up, if it had crossed my path…and been ‘used’.
So, what’s the verdict on Pilot? Worth chasing down their original albums? Better left to a “Best Of” CD? Tastefully produced or “over-produced”? Does this mean I now have to listen to some of the $1 copies of Alan Parsons Project LP’s that I found a while back?