Later Dan has its advocates - Ian MacDonald, for one, argues strongly for the merits of `Gaucho' in his very fine `The People's Music' - but I belong to the `first 3 albums are the best' fraternity. Unlike `Katy Lied', which, for me, marks the beginning of the Dan's decline, there's not one ounce of filler on this record. A much more cohesive affair than `Thrill', the Dan's second album benefits from having a singular vocalist and, unlike the slick, session-man concoctions of the later years, is greatly enhanced by being the product of a working band (+ illustrious guests). The record is packed with musical incident and variety: the vibes on `Razor Boy', the Rhodes workout on `Your Gold Teeth', slide guitar on `Show Biz Kids', synth on `King of the World', etc. The Dan make a virtue out of combining mordant lyrics with a jaunty `beat', the superb `Razor Boy' being a case in point. But top honours go to `King of the World'. Easily passed over at the back end of the album, this is surely one of the Dan's finest creations. Written from the point of view of a post-nuclear survivor, the lyrics are bleak, yet not without the customary wit - `Watch the sun go brown/Smoking cobalt cigarettes' - and the upbeat arrangement, oddly enough, works with rather than against the `story'. I find it all rather moving in an unsentimental kind of way.
Anyone thoroughly cheesed off with the Kaiser Chiefs/Arctic Monkeys/Scouting for Girls hegemony and U2/Coldplay-style corporate rock would do well to give this a spin. Not all 70's stuff involved sticking knives into Hammond organs or writing `meaningful' lyrics about goblins and the like.