Where else would a power pop fan have wanted to be at the time? Within a stone’s throw of the Sears tower, you could’ve hit any number of great bands at the time: Cheap Trick, Shoes, Off Broadway, and Pezband.
Unlike those bands, who may also fall into the “power pop” category, Pezband were of that odd ilk that seemed to sound more British than most British bands of the time, right down to the faux-British accents that can be heard on such tracks as “On And On” and “Love Goes Underground” (which, by the way, has an intro that sounds like an AC/DC riff circa ’78 combined with the “hells bells” from For Those About To Rock). Heck, the album was even recorded in London.
Laughing In The Dark is the band’s second, and best, release. Where their self-titled debut effort had more attitude than strong songs, Laughing In The Dark is chock-full of should-be singles. It is also obvious that the band’s label (Passport Records, which was distributed by Arista Records) was putting forth at least some effort to pitch Pezband as a main priority. The cover art, for example, was created by Hipgnosis, the UK art house responsible for other notable covers from Pink Floyd (Dark Side Of The Moon, anyone?), UFO, AC/DC (Dirty Deeds) and 10cc.
So, why did this album go virtually unnoticed upon release?
For starters, Pezband is not only one of the pioneering “power pop” bands, they freakin’ waved the power pop banner like no other band, right down to their print ad’s for this album.
Maybe that was ultimately a bad move. After all, how many major punk bands touted themselves as punk? The Ramones or The Clash may have been classified as such by the press, but they’d have been the last to claim to be a part of any movement (or jump on any bandwagon).
Also, Passport Records was on their last legs with Arista. The label would soon lose their distribution arrangement with the major label and, with it, Pezband would find themselves in the rock & roll no-zip sorting bin, so to speak. And, thus, you have the one key component to Pezband’s lack of commercial success: distribution (or a serious lack thereof). Sure, they had records out, you just couldn’t find them in the record stores.
All of this aside, Laughing is a great record. It should have been a hit and I will leave the rest up to you. DONATE TO CHARITY SLICERS can check out the entire album (with live bonus tracks).
1. Love Goes Underground
2. I`m Leavin`
3. Stop! Wait A Minute
4. Come On Madeline
5. I`m The One
6. Better Way To Win
7. On And On
9. Black Magic
10. Gimme Gimme
11. Crash And Burn
12. Blue Wind (live version)
13. Stroll On (live version)
14. I`m Not Talking (live version)
15. I`m Leaving (live version)
16. Crash And Burn (live version)
17. Close Your Eyes (live version)