Is it possible to not be commercial yet highly accessible? To be catchy yet obscure? I believe with this album City Boy hit the mark. All the songs on this album are short, unique and complex. They run through as many styles as minutes on this disc, but retain an aura of likability. These are songs you can't help but sing along with. If comparisons were made to anyone, I would compare this to 10CC when all the original members were in the band.
Young Men Gone West starts with "Bordello Night" and a kind of Latin flavor with big harmony vocals. Great vocals are a trademark of this band with three lead vocalists in the band employed at one time. Next up is "Dear Jean." This song rocks hard. Mike Slamer's rippin' guitar work is all over this song about a schoolboy's crush on his teacher. "Honeymooners" & "She's Got Style" are light jazz & Jamaican in flavor. Then "Bad for Business" slow burns it's way into a rockin' pop number. Just when you think it ends, it comes back with a weird gospel-blues Queen-like outro. The title track is akin to a sing-a-long pub song.
More great pop songs with differing styles follow until we reach "The Man Who Ate His Car." It's about a man who... well, um... eats his car. It's funny! This band has always featured highly inventive lyrics with a humorous edge. The album closes with "Millionaire," a beautiful ballad about a Howard Hughes type who hides from his self-made celebrity status. It's as touching as the last song is comical.
Members of the band at this time include: Lol Mason on vocals, Steve Broughton on vocals and guitar, Chris Dunn on bass, Max Thomas playing keyboards, and the aforementioned Mike Slamer (who has done some other stuff in prog circles) on lead guitar. Special mention should be made of the production work by Robert "Mutt" Lange. He brings a lush feel to the music and helps its disparity come together more cohesively. He also produced some other City Boy albums and those are worth seeking out as well if you like this one. Later albums by City Boy would move towards a rockier Styx-like sound, but Young Men Gone West is unique among all of them in its variation of styles
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on May 24th, 2007