Title - 'Bully for You: Expanded Edition'
Artist - BA Robertson
For those not in the know, Brian Alexander "B. A." Robertson is a Scottish musician, actor, composer and songwriter. He had a string of hits in the late '70s and early '80s, characterized by catchy pop tunes and jaunty, humorous lyrics, most notably 'Bang Bang', a tongue-in-cheek commentary on famous historical and fictional couples.
He also wrote with Mike Rutherford the Grammy-nominated and Ivor Novello Award-winning 'The Living Years which became a #1 hit in the USA, Canada, Australia and Ireland; reaching #2 in his native UK.
BA Robertson enjoyed his most commercially successful period while signed to Asylum Records in those aforementioned late '70s and early '80s. Indeed, during that period, BA was rarely out of the charts with hit singles.
Amazingly, BA's Asylum Records recordings have never officially been reissued on CD - until now! Compiled by BA himself with remastered sound, new sleeve-notes by Eddie Harrison and each reissue boasting numerous bonus tracks, BA's Asylum Records albums have finally been treated to the reissue program they deserve.
OK, before we begin I have to fully admit that I loved everything that BA put out back in the late '70s and '80s. Adored his debut album Initial Success (1980) so much that it was quite easily my go-to-vinyl album to play whenever I wanted to hear some good music. The beats, the lyrics, the whole musical deal made his debut a magical one, that's for sure.
So, with that said, first issued in 1981, and the follow-up to the aforementioned Initial Success, Bully For You was a rockin' good sophomore album for BA. It spawned two singles, 'Flight 19' (inspired by the US airplanes which disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945) and the opening track 'Saint Saens'.
Among the wealth of bonus tracks is a unique medley issued as a flexidisc, demos for BA's theme tunes to the TV shows 'Maggie' and The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop ('Swap Shop'), various radio versions, B-sides, and even a medley captured at a rare live performance by BA at Edinburgh Festival in 2004.
1. 'Saint Saens'
2. 'Bully for You'
4. 'Growing Old's Unhealthy'
5. 'Please Miss'
6. 'In the Bar at the Munich Hilton'
7. 'Dart Vader'
8. 'Hey Presto'
9. 'Flight 19'
10. 'Only One'
11. 'Turn the Volume Down'
12. 'Home Sweet Home'
13. 'Bar's on 45 (Medley)'
14. 'Alright on the Night' (B-Side)
15. 'Maggie (TV Theme Version)'
16. 'Swap Shop (Demo)'
17. 'Maggie Thatcher'
18. 'Man or a Mouse' (Live at All Saints College, Middlesex Polytechnic 21/11/80)
19. 'Gonzo for My Girlfriend' (Live at the Venue, London, 11/4/80)
20. 'Saint Saens (Medley)' (Live at Edinburgh Festival 2004)
OK, one more truth here is that as much as this CD was ready to play, the entire original album obviously coming before the bonus tracks, I (once again re: Initial Success) actually unleashed the old vinyl copy of this album to listen back to instead. Man, it felt SO good to listen to these songs again, every one of them a true BA gem to behold. Flashed me straight back to my youth and to times I never thought would ever change.
Anyway, first up is the foot-tappin' urgency of 'Saint-Saens' and that's backed by the finger-snappin' old school soft rock roll of the title track, 'Bully For You.' The gentle pop of 'Maggie' is along next and that's backed by the mid-tempo, medicinal fun of 'Growing Old's Unhealthy' ("Stop your hubby being sick over you, with a little resin and glue"), the new wave sounds of 'Please Miss,' and then the storytelling of 'In the Bar at the Munich Hilton.'
Next up is the Star Wars-themed 'Dart Vader', complete with Lightsaber "buzzes", it's backed by the magical 'Hey Presto' and then the true war legend retelling of 'Flight 19.' The car windshield wipers bat the raindrops side to side as a gentle piano introduces 'Only One' to us, and then the original album is brought to a close with the bouncy 'Turn The Volume Down' and the wedding-themed ditty 'Home Sweet Home.'
The Bonus Tracks begin with 'Bar's On 45 (Medley),' a collection of his biggest and best chart hits, weirdly with the first two thirds having been slightly, but very oh-so-noticeably sped up for the recording, and that's backed by the delightful romp of the B-Side 'Alight On The Night.' The TV Theme Show Version of 'Maggie' is next (which, to be quite honest, doesn't swerve too much from the Single Version), and that's followed by the upbeat and bouncy Demo for the TV Theme Show 'Swap Shop.'
The political gambit of a pun 'Maggie Thatcher' is next. A weird one from start to two minute finish, introduced by a faux Thatcher and continued on throughout in much the same vein, it's nothing more than BA's have-a-go at the lady herself (a track for the times, of course).
The Bonus Tracks then come to and end with a trio of live tracks. First up is the frenetic Costello-esque anthemic 'Man Or Mouse?' (Live at All Saints College, Middlesex Polytechnic 21/11/80) and that's followed by 'Gonzo for My Girlfriend' (Live at the Venue, London, 11/4/80). A song chock full of complete and utter nonsense ("She swings from the rafters in black bra and garters. I'm in high heels and stockings, hey I hear you mocking me. But my girl says when at home, relax in ladies clothes"), the last live cut is an acoustic piano 'Saint Saens (Medley)', live from the Edinburgh Festival 2004. Not much of a "medley", but a nice acoustically different version of the hit single, that's for sure!
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
'Bully For You: Expanded Edition' CD Purchase Link