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City Boy

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City Boy The Day the Earth Caught Fire album cover
3.77 | 47 ratings | 11 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Day the Earth Caught Fire (5:26)
2. It's Only the End of the World (4:04)
3. Interrupted Melody (5:30)
4. Modern Love Affair (3:31)
5. New York Times (5:11)
6. Up in the Eighties (4:14)
7. Machines (5:04)
8. Ambition (12:38)

Total Time 45:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Broughton / guitar, backing vocals
- Chris Dunn / bass, acoustic guitar
- Lol Mason / lead vocals
- Mike Slamer / acoustic & electric guitars
- Max Thomas / keyboards
- Roy Ward / drums, backing vocals

- Tim Friese Greene / synthesizers
- Derek King / percussion
- Robert John Mutt Lange / bass
- Huey Lewis / harmonica
- Kentall Tubbs / bass, percusion

Releases information

LP Vertigo 6360 173
LP Vertigo 9102 036
CD Bear Tracks BTCD 97 9419 AH (1997)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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CITY BOY The Day the Earth Caught Fire ratings distribution

(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CITY BOY The Day the Earth Caught Fire reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Heptade
3 stars City Boy was an interesting art rock band, and it's surprising that they didn't win a more lasting legacy of acclaim. Their sound is a stew of late 70s styles, from the arty rock of 10cc to the pomp of Queen and the glossy sheen of Utopia. This is one of their later albums and is chock full of dramatic tunes driven by big riffs, clanky piano, smooth keyboards and high-pitched harmonies. There seems to be an apolcalyptic theme, particularly in the opening two tracks. Proggers will interested in the 12-minute "Ambition", which features some orchestration for extra pomposity. This is definitely slick music with commercial appeal, but it is also interesting enough and has enough good musicianship to hold the attention of demanding listeners. City Boy's output was very consistent in terms of quality, so any of their albums make for a good listen.
Review by Rune2000
4 stars 1979 was the year when City Boy would return to their Art Rock ambitions and release their most accomplished album yet! The Day The Earth Caught Fire was both heavier and tighter than the two previous releases. The tracks are all thematically linked creating a concept album that prophesies disaster that our world is coming to. It might be considered a bit too much to ask for the audiences living in the era of oil crises and New Wave to comprehend the hardship that the band dealt with in order to pursue this artistic vision. The success of the previous release just didn't catch on and it's truly a great pity considering how good this material is.

The title track might seem a bit dated in its typical late seventies production but, other than that, it's an excellent piece of rock music that has been undeservingly forgotten by the audiences. The rest of the tracks keep themselves true to the concept album format, concluding with a 13 minute long medley called Ambition/Me And My Tarot/Rev-On/The End. I guess that some might say that City Boy weren't too kind to their mainstream audience with The Day The Earth Caught Fire since the album lacks everything that they might have enjoyed on Book Early. Only Modern Love Affair gives us the reminder of the simpler past while the rest of the album can almost be considered a long awaited continuation of Dinner At The Ritz.

This is a great album that might have dated a bit more than the other releases in the band's catalog due its somewhat generic production that really oozes the spirit of late '70s/early '80s. Therefore I can't recommend it as much as Dinner At The Ritz, but it's not far from there.

***** star songs: Day The Earth Caught Fire (5:26)

**** star songs: Interrupted Melody (5:30) Modern Love Affair (3:31) New York Times (5:11) Up In The Eighties (4:14) Machines (5:04) Ambition (12:38)

*** star songs: It's Only The End Of The World (4:04)

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In the mid 70s, a series of British groups combined elements of classic prog, adding some heavy rock a la Zeppelin and some hints of glam (T. Rex, Gary Glitter and early Roxy Music). Some went on to massive fame (Queen, Bowie), so-so celebrity (Sweet) and no distinction whatsoever (City Boy). Wiki defines glam as "Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamour, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war Cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology. City Boy are among those rare bands that had definite talent but only 2 albums hit any kind of renown, the "Dinner at the Ritz" and this one. Obviously, the title here implies a science fiction slant (a famous classic movie whose storyline is the following: panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices and have caused the orbit of the Earth to alter, sending it hurtling towards the sun) and the songs are reflective of the hysterical eccentricities that were extremely newsworthy at the time. I purchased the vinyl back when it came out as I was intrigued by the then media reviews of this concept album and ever since I was always compelled to slide this one alongside Sheer Heart Attack and Desolation Boulevard, as there are some uncanny resemblances. Lol Mason's high pitched vocals akin to Freddie Mercury and Brian Connolly, Mike Slamer's loud guitar crunches in the Andy Scott/Brian May school of rock rifferama, steady bass and power drumming that certainly recall Taylor or Bonham from Roy Ward , who sings a bit too. The differences are mostly in the person of Max Thomas, a deft keyboardist who paints the ivory symphonics with aplomb. The title track is a marvelous slice of rock harmonics, a bruising, highly melodramatic opus that could easily have been penned by the Bohemian rhapsodists, with its massed choirs, insanely catchy chorus ("Run for your life"), moody synth backdrops, and cyclonic beats. A slippery axe solo only adds to the pop-corn drama. Wow! "It's Only the End of the World" is ballsier, almost basic heavy rock, drummer Ward taking over the mike and sounding like a rock 'n roller, aided by the lush massed backing vocals, guitars weaving in and out and doomsday ahead. Lots of fun, "sports car driving off a cliff" kind of a track! "Interrupted Melody" has an almost Springsteen-like flavour, a piano-driven exposure of the sleazy life of girls of the night, lustily teasing the unified choir vocals that parallel the brash guitar, a depressingly lurid story encased in yet a brilliant song. Slamer's solo is devastating, enough to make any May fan stand and applaud. "Modern Love Affair" is breezy, a typical brit rock song, a hint of pub cabaret and lots of rock and roll, a perfect foil for some vocal/guitar histrionics and a chorus that never fades from memory. "New York Times" has quite an intro, instrumental fracas that will wink at the Queen boys (Queens, New York, get it?), huge orchestrations that will recall George Martin's work with the Fab Four, again with that Cabaret feel, a sizzling axe solo and some dizzying dynamics. Drummer Ward really has nice pipes here, elevating this track to lofty heights. "Up in the Eighties" is another sweltering winner, swerving contrasts, a sense of "deja entendu"(look it up!), I swear I hear Dr John's "Are You in the right place?" . The pub was too hot to bear any more pain. "Machines" is where things get hot and heavy, a raunchy workout with crunching riffs, bruising bass and tectonic drum beats, Ward singing like a madman while bashing his kit, the squeaky synth backed chorus is like something from the Sparks, totally unexpected but deeply appreciated. The guitar solo sounds like Bill Nelson on steroids! The lyrics continue to astound by their doomsville frankness. Now of course, you have to wait to the finale, the whopping 12 minute+ "Ambition" suite in order to anoint this with duly stamped prog credentials and rightly so. This is one hell of a roller coaster, replete with 3 segments that clash, crash and smash as the planet goes down the tubes of its own destruction, a button pushed, humanity vaporized. An epitaph to political stupidity, at a time when the chance of nuclear obliteration was quite real, even possible (Too many near misses, from 1960 onward). The manic "Rev-On" section is hot and juicy, almost deliriously close to hard rock where it not for the swooping synths and clavinet. The singing here is primeval and endearing, Steve Broughton, Lol Mason and Ward all contributing to the vocal melee. This is a brilliant unknown gem that deserves high praise and way many more devoted fans, including the royals . 4.5 Urban punks
Review by kenethlevine
2 stars CITY BOY could best be described as 10CC with a hard rock fetish, or SUPERTRAMP with less distinctive vocalists, or QUEEN without the hooks, or the British KAYAK, or, you get the idea. Not a lot of identity wrapped up in this package, and literally dozens of bands were doing this as well or better, not that this style lends itself well to one-upmanship other than in the commercial department. Sadly, that is where CITY BOY was most ignominious, barely establishing more than a cult in select realms like individual floors of university dorms.

If one group track could lay claim to being well known, it would be the title cut here, a surprisingly powerful progressive song with a pleasant pop sensibility. It was the darling of the sci fi set at the time. Several other decent if overly clever short tunes are included, like "Modern Lover Affair". "New York Times" sounds like ELO right down to the Eldorado-styled ending. They also almost pull off another prog coup with "Interrupted Melody" but it seems a tad disjointed, and you can forget about the 13 minute closer other than as confirmation that CITY BOY's closest association with the progressive movement was temporal.

By all reports things went down from this not particularly lofty peak. Recommended only to those who are red hot for groups of this ilk.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The fifth albun from the Britanic band CITY BOY " Day the Earth Caught Fire" is a very good example from 70's Art-Rock style.. The sound is a mix of influences of , 10 cc, Sweet, Styx ( mainly in the vocal choirs). The albun in itself, in spite of presents some interesting moments in a form of ... (read more)

Report this review (#539205) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, October 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I ran with a group of ProgRock listening gamers back in the late '70s. Someone in the group ran across this album in a cut-out bin. It became an instant classic with us. I turned a number of people onto the album through the years. This is truly an amazing album, from both a concept point of vie ... (read more)

Report this review (#82095) | Posted by paulnew2000 | Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I picked this record up used in the 48 Cent Bin when I was 14 years old and it immediately became glued to my turntable. Hard as nails sensibilities delivered with technical mastery. Strings sections too often sound pretentious with heavy guitar riffs, but it's how CITY BOY handle that juxtapo ... (read more)

Report this review (#70287) | Posted by iconicide | Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've had this album (record, in mint condition) since 1979, when it came out. I have always been a big fan of the off-the-wall bands and their influences in what would some would call "classic rock". When this album came out, stuff like this was not being played on the radio. It wouldnt have ... (read more)

Report this review (#69641) | Posted by | Friday, February 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is IT! THE album that changed my musical direction :) My older brother boght this album and we listened to it on and on down in the basement... Our location and the spooky start of The Day The Earth Caught Fire still reminds me of my childhood music and what still inspires my. This album ... (read more)

Report this review (#59683) | Posted by | Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is what I call as a hidden treasure!City Boy is one of those bands that fall into the pit of an unexplainable neglection by a cast of critics at that time-critics who put into this pit great bands like Styx,Journey among others with the accusion they were too much commercial, too poppy, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#49928) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars We open up with the speaking clock: At the first stroke it will be three o'clock precisely... And then we hit the opening chords of The Day The Earth Caught Fire, a five-minute opus that fairly powers along, a hard-edged mix of powerhouse vocals and strong fluid guitar, breaking for a middle section ... (read more)

Report this review (#29737) | Posted by | Monday, April 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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