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Performer Notes
  • Liner Note Author: Chris Ingham.
  • Gilbert O'Sullivan was a retro artist in the sense of looking like a refugee from the 1930s, and his music hearkened back to simpler times, with witty lyrics that took ordinary, everyday living and found something to weave from it coupled with melodies that didn't need fancy production, just a man sitting at the piano, singing really quite pretty tunes. And in a business sense, his albums also hearkened back to the '60s as he attempted to keep a distance between the tracks that were included on albums and the hit singles that he was racking up regularly. Back to Front was the pinnacle of his achievements, his only number one album, squeezing in just one week at the top in January 1973 and although it included the chart-topping single "Clair," the album did not feature any of the other hits he had achieved throughout 1972. Instead, Back to Front served up another 12 songs with well crafted melodies and lyrics that obviously had a lot of thought and tender loving care put into them. The intro to "I Hope You'll Stay" was a true introduction to the album, a personal invitation for his audience to put their feet up, make a cup of tea, sit and listen and relax for the next half-an-hour. Side one of the album included the single "Clair," a song with a twist that could be a man's thoughts about his lover until the final few seconds, when the true nature of his affections were revealed with the giggle and gurgle of a baby. Side one ended with the bouncy "But I'm Not" ("to me some say that you're a fool -- but I'm not") which led straight into the first "Outro" ("I'm not quite finished yet -- there's another side to go before I go.") Back to Front included the beautiful ballad "What Could Be Nicer (Mum the Kettle's Boiling)," but this was the only true ballad on side two of the original vinyl which included "Out of the Question," a music hall throwback, "Who Was It," which had been a hit earlier in the year for Hurricane Smith, and "The Golden Rule," which included the classic lyrics "when in no doubt get a card out, and while you're there how about, fetching me one of those pneumatic drills" and "I wouldn't be here if wasn't for my dear old Mum and Dad and the fun they had." The backing track of "In My Hole" sounded as if it was the music used in the Persuaders TV series, "Can I Go with You" was reminiscent of the Beatles' I"f I Fell." The album had a definitive end with the song "I'm Leaving" leading into the second "Outro," which had the simple lyric, "I'm almost finished now, when I start fading you'll hear me say...I'm almost finished now" and that was it, the end of Back to Front, a great example of early-'70s singer/songwriter material at its best. ~ Sharon Mawer
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