on 17 December 2004
Get Up And Go / Big Screen Kill (7/77), Monday Tuesday / Evil Eye (9/77) and Ten Feet Tall / One Good Reason Why (11/77) aren't on this superb compilation because they weren't on EMI and therefore remain unissued on CD. The first single version of Just A Smile (6/74) isn't here either, but the brilliant remix is. Lady Luck (11/75) and a David Paton solo single No Ties No Strings (5/80) make their debut on CD on this album. Running Water (4/76) - a ballad which slowly grows on you, Canada (6/76) and Penny In My Pocket (9/76) were also glorious failures. I've deliberately given the release dates of these 9 misses, because no one else is likely to know that Pilot had 12 singles instead of the 4 shown in the guiness book of hit singles.
on 11 September 2006
I chanced upon this by lucky hap, needing a CD that cost under a fiver. Having heard only Magic and January, I was unsure if the other material would be of ths same standard. But the majority of tracks are as good as those two smashes. If you are a fan of well played, complex and melodic power pop then this is a must. Crunchy guitars, nifty harmonies and handclaps abound. I would liken it to the Raspberries and Big Star but with less American sounding vocals. The Feeling have been compared to Pilot and that is not so far off the mark either. At 4.97 this is a bargain!
With just two his that were big enough to stay long in the memory, plus two minor hits, I'm glad they didn't call this a greatest hits package. All the hits are here together with all the other A-sides that missed the charts, plus all the B-sides and three album tracks. There are actually nine A-sides and ten B-sides, because one of the singles was released on two separate occasions, the B-side being different on the second release.
Two of the founder members (David Paton and Billy Lyall) actually met first as members of an embryonic Bay City Rollers, but both had departed from that group before they became famous. They went their separate ways but eventually met up again (it wasn't planned) and played around with a few musical ideas. Eventually, they teamed up with Stuart Tosh and became Pilot, the P, L, and T being taken from the first letters of their surnames.
Pilot's debut album, titled From the album of the same name, was released in 1974 but didn't do much business, nor did their debut single, Just a smile. At some point in 1974, Ian Bairnson became a fully-fledged member of the group, having played on one track on their debut album. Pilot made their breakthrough with their second single, Magic, which just missed the British top ten, and which became their only big hit in America. Pilot had their biggest British hit with their third single, January, which really did enter the charts in January 1975, but which made number one, ironically, on the first of February. It stayed there for four weeks after which it understandably dropped quickly down and out of the charts. At that point, it looked as if Pilot were set to have at least a few more big hits, but it was not to be. Their second album charted, but only just and then only for one week. Call me round, their next single, was only a minor hit, as was the re-issue of Just a smile (with, as mentioned earlier, a different B-side). Subsequent singles failed to chart at all.
Pilot split up but the individual members enjoyed considerable success as session musicians or as members of other groups, so proving that they were highly regarded within the music industry. Sadly, Billy Lyall died in 1989, but at the time this album was compiled, all the others were continuing their successful careers. Meanwhile, this album serves as a reminder of the music that they recorded as Pilot. My guess is that if you like other mainstream British pop groups of the seventies such as Mud and Smokie, you'll probably like Pilot too. As for the Bay City Rollers, let's just say that I won't be reviewing any compilations of their music.
on 23 November 2004
Pilot were that timeless glory, a pure pop band. Their singles were perfectly crafted and packed with hooks, everything from punchy pop guitars to exquisite lost-chord vocal harmonies. A real joy to see them getting this re-release as the old 45s are starting to look really worn.
Pilot improved with age too, with the material from their third LP "Morin Heights" particularly outstanding, showing new depths of material and maturity. The only reason I don't give it five is that, being an EMI release, they've left off the late period Arista singles, of which "Get Up and Go" was as irresistably catchy as anything here.
If all you've ever heard of Pilot is "January" and "Magic", get this to see how consistently good they were.
If you're looking for a compilation by Pilot, you probably won't do better than this, the reason being that the b-sides are so good they're better than most of the tracks from their first two albums. Pilot were caught between two stools, pushed towards a transient teenybopper audience by their management while aspiring to loftier musical ambitions. This is clear on the later tracks from 'Morin Heights', Ian Bairnson's classy guitar work being especially noticeable. The CD is bolstered by a few well-chosen album tracks and a couple of good David Paton recordings. Their moment passed too quickly, although a couple of the band found a new home in the Alan Parsons Project.