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It Bites

Crossover Prog

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It Bites The Big Lad in the Windmill album cover
2.86 | 80 ratings | 10 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Got You Eating Out of My Hand (6:07)
2. All in Red (3:32)
3. Whole New World (4:25)
4. Screaming on the Beaches (3:46)
5. Wanna Shout (3:13)
6. Turn Me Loose (4:12)
7. Cold, Tired and Hungry (4:17)
8. Calling All the Heroes (5:33)
9. You'll Never Go to Heaven (7:13)
10. The Big Lad in the Windmill (0:48)

Total Time 43:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Francis Dunnery / guitars, lead vocals
- John Beck / keyboards, backing & harmony vocals
- Dick Nolan / bass, backing vocals
- Bob Dalton / drums, backing vocals

- The Kick Horns / horns (3)

Releases information

Artwork: David O'Connor with Stylorouge (design)

LP Virgin - OVED 295 (1986, UK)
LP Geffen Records - GHS 24116 (1986, US) Different track running order

CD Virgin - CDV 2378 (1986, UK)

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IT BITES The Big Lad in the Windmill ratings distribution

(80 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(15%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

IT BITES The Big Lad in the Windmill reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is their first album, a nice debut for a British prog band who started in the mid 80's! The songs may be quite hard rock, if you consider the rather aggressive omnipresent electric guitar. The tracks are loaded, and the lead vocals are excellent, reminding me Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant and Peter Gabriel, seconded by TONS of excellent backing vocals, giving the ensemble an American pop sound; but be reassured: the songs here are not simple at all! The bass is very interesting: it has the Wal sound, and I wonder if it is not fretless; the bass is complex enough to produce very catchy rhythms. Actually, this album relies very much on rhythm and lead & backing vocals. The keyboards are varied and contribute to the overall rhythm, as reveal the horns-like arrangements, sometimes falling into a lite big band style, like on "Whole new world", on which the horns are probably genuine. The songs are joyful, catchy and very accessible; thus, I really think this band should interest a broader public than the conventional prog rock fans. All the songs are very good, and no band until now sound like them: they are very unique, dynamic and original!
Review by Blacksword
3 stars BLITW almost gets there. As a debut album it stands up thanks to the musical literacy of It Bites. At the time, Francis Dunnery (guitar) was just 23, but listerning to his playing you could be forgiven for thinking he'd been around for decades and was a very experienced player. You can hear IB's prog rock influences coming through on 'I got you eating outa my hand' 'Screaming on the beaches' and 'You'll never go to heaven' But, to be honest much of the album reeks of hairspray and pop/rock 'Wanna shout' 'Turn me loose' and the dreadful 'Whole new world'. The band clearly had prog ambitions, but maybe had to placate the money men at Virgin for this first album. There second album, 'Once around the world' was fantastic, and shall be reviewed by yours truly in the near future, no doubt.

Your collection will not really miss BLITW, but there are some great moments which indicated where IB's true intentions lay. It's well worth getting for those moments. Alternatively buy an IB compilation. Musicianship, excellent, production, good if a bit poppy, but consistent? No.

Review by hdfisch
2 stars Actually I can't get crazy about this band. They did nice happy pop-(prog?) songs, not more. Really nothing special. The quite typical 80's plastic sound, a decade without almost any great prog music anyway for me. But although sounding quite pop-ish, they did not get very famous as well. I think there must be a reason for it. Of course there was COLLINS-GENESIS during that time and everyone liking such stuff went for them. Definitively not my cup of tea!
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Toothless, but it doesn't suck

It Bites are one of those bands I'd never have thought of as prog, although I have to confess this is more due to ignorance of their work, not familiarity. They are perhaps best know to the masses for their hit single, "Calling all the heroes", which appears on this their first album.

There is no doubt that the band sit very much at the pop end of prog, in the territory occupied by band such as 10CC, STYX etc. The five 4 minute tracks a side, and the glamorous photo of the band on the inner sleeve leave little doubt that this album is intended to sell to those whose appetite for music rarely ventures beyond the superficial.

The first couple of tracks are sophisticated pop, the opening "I got you eating out of my hand" being marginally more intricate than the rest. By the time we get to "Whole new world" though, a horn section is added, giving an unfortunate Phil Collins (solo) feel to the track. "Wanna shout" suffers from the same infliction, the synthetic 80's pop and strong beat offering little in the way of substance.

The second side is notably the stronger. "Turn me loose" has a very odd mixture of melodic pop chorus and offbeat instrumental. "Calling all the heroes" is a sort of ASIA clone with a bit of "Owner of a Lonely heart" too. The song has strong melody and an infectious chorus, with a decent instrumental section. The lyrics tell a good tale from the wild west.

The album closes with the reflective "You'll never go to heaven", the longest track on the album, then the title track which is the shortest. "You'll never go to heaven" reminds me somewhat of Spandau Ballet's "True", but it does have a couple of decent guitar solos by Francis Dunnery.

In all, a very pop album which the band deliver in very accomplished fashion without ever really challenging themselves. While the music is enjoyable, there really is virtually nothing here to recommend to those seeking prog.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Not enough bite!

It Bites was formed in the mid 80's and this strangely titled album was their debut. The band fits firmly into the Crossover Prog genre with both strongly commercial elements and progressive elements. They were hardly a groundbreaking group but they did develop their own characteristic sound and approach to making music. The voice of singer and guitarist Francis Dunnery is strong and distinctive and the whole band oozes with talent. There is not a lot of lead guitar work, but when it is present it is really good and often remind me of Allan Holdsworth's style. Keyboarder John Beck provides some very nice, short and snappy keyboard solos.

On this debut there is much potential for sure and it gave them a hit song in Calling All The Heroes as well as several other songs that would go on to become live favourites. But overall this album is a bit tame and firmly rooted in its time; namely the mid 80's. The opening two tracks are very good, but there is something lacking in the often timid sound - it lacks punch. The inclusion of a brass section on some tracks adds to the Pop feeling and removes from the (Prog) Rock feeling they would develop on subsequent albums. Some moments are a bit embarrassing and brings the album down a bit. But there are also some really great moments as well!

The most progressive elements of the band's sound are found throughout but the slightly longer tracks have a bit more of that. The sound on the band is wholly Pop, but the arrangements are often not conventional and the music takes some surprising twists and turns that will certainly please the Prog fan. The album is very well produced and it sounds very professional.

On the live album Thank You And Goodnight, several songs from this album are performed with very much more Rock power and energy compared to this studio album. I therefore recommend starting with that live album instead of this somewhat pre-mature but still very promising studio debut. Still, any fan of the band will want to have all three of the band's studio albums.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars It Bites is a band from UK formed in early '80's. First album came in 1986 and named The big lad in the windmill. At first listen I was thinking I'm listnening to some pop album typical for mid '80's but after some spins, this it changes in better for me. Not because I have something against pop albums, some of them are pretty good, this is the case with this first album of It Bites. Polished pop with good keyboards, rather like art pop, with fine arrangements, nothing spectacular but enjoyble. The best piece is I Got You Eating Out Of my Hand, the rest are ok, typical '80's sound but not bad at all. 2.5 rounded to 3, because of the cover art who is great. Nothing over the top, but pleasent, quite simple in conception but good. Their next one is even better.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Even though I had some other plans for these last few reviews, counting down to 700, I've been in some weird melodic coma for the last week. I started with Muse, moved to A.C.T and now I'm listening to It Bites - a band that I haven't listened to for nearly a decade! Well, there's only one thing to do; a change of plan! Let's get these reviews out of the way then...

I regard It Bites to be the late '80s band that had a small following up until they disbanded in the early '90s. My opinion is pretty clear about the new lineup that released The Tall Ships- they are just not the same band. John Mitchell's vocal approach and the band's radically different implementation of synthesizers just can't be compared to the Francis Dunnery-lead lineup. It's not that one is more superior than the other, but rather that it's two different bands that just happen to share the same band moniker.

Now that I've got that discussion out of the way, let's talk about the actual album at hand! The Big Lad In The Windmill is actually a pretty enjoyable debut release that quickly establishes the band's style with the three opening tracks; I Got You Eating Out Of My Hand, All In Red and Whole New World (4:26). These compositions are fun, quirky and highly enjoyable, even if they might not be on par with some of It Bites' greatest moments. What follows can only be described as a definite drop in quality where both Screaming On The Beaches and Wanna Shout come off sounding like pretty average pop tunes that just didn't get enough enough studio polish to make it on their own.

The album carries on for a few more decent tracks, where the 7 minute You'll Never Go To Heaven might feel a bit draggy for the last 2 minutes, until we finally get to the well known highlight Calling All The Heroes! I don't know the reason behind the word 'Heroes' huge popularity in the '80s but it was certainly on everyones tongues at the time. This tune is just a perfect piece of pop music with an arty twist to it that brings out everything that was good about the '80s and knowing me this says a lot!

The Big Lad In The Windmill might not have enough excellence on it to make it a very important album but if you're ever in that 80s kind of mood then give it a go!

***** star songs: Calling All The Heroes (5:34)

**** star songs: I Got You Eating Out Of My Hand (5:38) All In Red (3:31) Whole New World (4:26) Turn Me Loose (4:12) Cold, Tired And Hungry (4:17) You'll Never Go To Heaven (7:13) The Big Lad In The Windmill (0:48)

*** star songs: Screaming On The Beaches (3:46) Wanna Shout (3:30)

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars Some years ago, this band was featured under the "Neo Prog" category and then shifted to the "X-over one).

Still, when I listen to their first release, I can hardly find anything prog in here. The worst being achieved with a soul type of song la Motown: "Whole New World". Press next is the best attitude you can handle here.

The next "Wanna Shout" reminds me more of "Duran Duran" than anything prog at all. I can't say that the following "Turn Me Loose" is of great inspiration. Some flat pop song with no emotion at all. I am afraid that the press next exercise needs to be implemented here as well (but that's valid from track one unfortunately). This one is a real bad song indeed.

To find a great track here is like the search of the Holy Graal: impossible. Not even talking about prog of course. "Cold, Tired and Hungry" belongs to these even if a great guitar break is a kind of a highlight ion the midst of misery.

The disco and unbearable to my ears "Calling All The Heroes" just confirm my feeling. As far as I am concerned, this is a complete waste of an album. The type of "press next" all the way. When you reach "You''ll Never Go To Heaven", you might think that at last, a good prog moment is reached. But the feeling only lasts for 90 seconds. Even if to be honest, the closing guitar section is rather pleasant.

One star is my intimate and honest feel.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The only thing I knew about It Bites was that they were a Neo Prog band. I've covered their latest album Map Of The Past (2012) in the News section of my website and that was it.

Then, the other day I was watching VH1 and a weird 80's band was playing. A bunch of geeky/nerd guys playing another 80's kind of Pop. But paying close attention they were different from the other 80's guys, so I was curious and waited to know who they were. It was It Bites.

So, I was curious because I didn't know this guys started in late 80's. Went to Spotify and they were there so I give a try on their debut album The Big Lad In The Windmill (1986).

Well, this isn't really Prog, not even Neo Prog. But it's not your everyday 80's Pop act too. In fact they were something in between, that for sure would grow for something more interesting in the near future. Despite the fact that there's few Prog in here I found it very amusing. Including the single 'Calling All The Heroes' that is unusual for a single in those days.

The Big Lad In The Windmill (1986) is an album that should be checked to understand the band later on Once Around The World (1988).

Latest members reviews

5 stars This debut from those wonderful UK lads....are exellent!!! Its a mixture of...ahem...Zappa meets 10cc meets Porcuoine tree.... No no i kid you not. It is that great!! So if you havent already had the pleasure of this gem....GO GET IT !!! And i might ad...the following 2 albums are just as good. ... (read more)

Report this review (#25302) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Friday, January 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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