City Boy (band)
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|Origin||Birmingham, England, United Kingdom|
|Past members||Lol Mason|
City Boy were an English rock band in the late 1970s, characterised by complex vocal arrangements and heavy guitars. The band consisted of Lol Mason (lead vocals), Steve Broughton (guitar, lead vocals), Max Thomas (keyboards, guitar), Chris Dunn (bass, acoustic guitar), Roger Kent (drums), Mike Slamer (guitar), and later, Roy Ward (drums, vocals). Their most popular songs were "126.96.36.199." and "The Day the Earth Caught Fire".
In the early 1970s, Lol Mason, Steve Broughton, Max Thomas and Chris Dunn were playing original acoustic music in the Birmingham area. They toured the clubs of the Midlands and turned professional towards the end of 1975. They were offered a recording contract by Phonogram on the condition that they change their name from "Back In the Band" and add drums and electric guitar. This prompted them to recruit drummer Roger Kent (who was later replaced by Roy Ward) and guitarist Mike Slamer.
City Boy's first five albums were produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who was recommended to them by Polygram A&R guy Chris Peers, and are among the first albums he produced after relocating to the UK from South Africa. Lange became the seventh member of the band, helping Chris Dunn hone his bass guitar skills and assisting with City Boy's vocal harmonies. Their breakthrough came in 1978 with their hit song "188.8.131.52.", which was Lange's first hit single outside of his homeland. City Boy's first single "Shake My Head and Leave" in 1975 had received some airplay, notably in South Africa. Their subsequent album was named Book Early. The "184.108.40.206." single reached the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart, achieving also a silver award for 200,000 copies sold, although the album failed to scratch the UK Albums Chart. The single also made the top 30 in the U.S., peaking at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a sizeable Top 40 hit in Australia. City Boy toured the United States in 1978, supporting Hall & Oates for a total of 66 concerts.
Their next album, 1979's The Day the Earth Caught Fire, produced a minor UK hit with the title song. This album marked an early recording appearance by Huey Lewis, who played harmonica on the second track "It's Only the End of the World".
Afterwards, Broughton and Dunn (two of the original members) left the band, and City Boy released Heads Are Rolling as a quartet in 1980. The soft rock track "Speechless" made the band briefly popular in the Philippines. Their final album, It's Personal from 1981, failed to attract any attention. Unable to secure a contract with any of the major companies, the band split up in 1982.
The first four of City Boy's albums were released and distributed by Vertigo Records, part of Phonogram. City Boy signed with Atlantic in 1979 and "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" was released on that label (except in Europe where it was released on Vertigo).
After City Boy
After the split, Lol Mason formed The Maisonettes and had a UK Top Ten hit in the UK with "Heartache Avenue" in 1983. Mike Slamer went on to record and work as a session musician and staff composer after a stint with American band Streets fronted by Kansas vocalist Steve Walsh in the early to mid-1980s. They recorded two albums for Atlantic Records, 1st and Crimes in Mind. Later with bass player Billy Greer (ex-Streets and currently a member of Kansas), he formed the band Seventh Key. Max Thomas went into teaching. On 31 July 2019, Lol Mason died at the age of 69 in his home in Harborne from a heart attack, after complications following a kidney transplant.
Chris Dunn moved back to the UK in 1982 and worked for Zomba on various projects including the Shape Up And Dance roadshow, and was personal manager to Jive Records artists Tight Fit, who had a number one hit with the remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". Dunn then took over managing Battery Studios in London. He went on to found Dreamhire Professional Audio Rentals in the UK and then relocated to the US in 1989 to setup Dreamhire locations in New York and Nashville. He bought out Dreamhire from BMG after they had taken over ownership of Zomba in 2001 and announced his intention to close the business in an interview dated 15 August 2016. As of 1 July 2017, the business was closed and liquidating the remainder of its assets, mostly on ebay:
Roy Ward was the lead session singer on the remake of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which was a major hit for Tight Fit in 1982. He went on to release a remake of Del Shannon's "Runaway" under his band name Tokyo Charm in 1982.
Steve Broughton became a songwriter and producer, under the names Steven Broughton Lunt and Steve Lunt. He was the co-writer of Cyndi Lauper's hits "She Bop" and "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough". He later became the Vice-President of A & R at Jive Records, where he worked with such artists as 'N Sync, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys.
- City Boy (1976) U.S. #177
- Dinner at the Ritz (1976) U.S. #170
- Young Men Gone West (1977) U.S. #207
- Book Early (1978) U.S. #115
- The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1979)
- Heads Are Rolling (1980)
- It's Personal (1981)
- City Boy + bonus tracks / Dinner at the Ritz (2015) (2CD re-release)
- Young Men Gone West / Book Early + bonus tracks (2015) (2CD re-release)
- Anthology (2001)
- "(Moonlight) Shake My Head and Leave" (1975)
- "The Hap-ki-do kid" (1976)
- "Surgery Hours (Doctor, Doctor)" (1976)
- "Haymaking Time" (1976, released in the US)
- "She's Got Style" (1977)
- "I've Been Spun" (1977)
- "The Violin" (1977, released in the US)
- "Turn On to Jesus" (1977)
- "220.127.116.11." (1978) UK #8, U.S. #27
- "What a Night" (1978) UK #39
- "Summer in the Schoolyard" (1979, released in Scandinavia)
- "The Day the Earth Caught Fire" (1979) UK #67
- "Mr. Shoes" (1980, released in the Philippines)
- "Speechless" (1980, released in the Philippines)
- "Heads are Rolling" (1980)
- "Need a Little Loving" (1980)
- "You're Leaving Me", (1980, released in the US)
- "Lovers" (1981)
Covers and reissues
In 1998, the first four City Boy albums were reissued in two double-CD sets by Renaissance Records. In October 2009, City Boy's last studio album, It's Personal, was released for the first time on CD.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 261/2. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
- Lockley, Mike (4 August 2019). "Birmingham singer Lol Mason dies at home in Harborne". Birminghammail.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 March 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Items for sale by dreamhire2004". eBay.
- Jean-Francois Méan, Interview with Steve Lunt, 28 May 2002. HitQuarters. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
- Cherry Red Records (May 2015). "Young Men Gone West / Book Early EXPANDED EDITION - City Boy". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 13 June 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
- "What A Night from 'Scene 79'; YouTube".
- cityboy.org - Unofficial fansite
- Detailed discography
- Allmusic Guide
- Radio interview with the band's lead guitarist Mike Slamer about his time with City Boy (August 2006)
- Dreamhire ebay sales page Chris Dunn's company
- Chris Dunn's interview #190 with Jon Lamoreaux for The Hustle Podcast