April 30th is my birthday. An early rock & roll memory for me was waiting up to watch "Midnight Special" on April 30, 1976 to see the brand new Roller, Ian Mitchell. I think I even thought it was pronounced "Eye-an" at first. I posted the first two BCR U.S. Arista LPs a while ago and just realized that although "Dedication" is now available on CD as an import, it's based on the UK version which didn't include "I Only Want To Be With You" or the quirky "Are You Cuckoo?" (a UK b-side a year later). The UK version had "Money Honey" and "Rock & Roll Love Letter" in their place which may actually be a stronger track lineup overall but the fans in the States already had those tracks thanks to Arista's previously calculated moves. Also, "Money Honey" and "Rock & Roll Love Letter" were older tracks featuring Alan Longmuir on bass and with a different producer altogether. Strangely, Clive and company never even bothered to release a UK hit from 1976, "Love Me Like I Love You," in the U.S. at all.
At this point, Alan quits, Woody switches to bass and young Ian Mitchell (far right) from Ireland is brought in as Alan's replacement and rhythm guitarist. Ian was in a popular Irish band called Young City Stars that Tam Paton managed. Other than the personnel change, scanning the credits on the back cover you immediately notice the difference in songwriting credits. Where's the Faulkner-Wood songs? There were so many politics between Clive Davis and his idea of the Bay City Rollers versus the band's own ideas and identity. Clive usually won the arguments. The Rollers would not get to record an album of all original material again until 1979's "Elevator" after which Clive washed his hands of the band. And they haven't been paid a cent from Arista since! The band has been fighting Arista for a while now and hopefully their overdue royalties will finally be properly distributed to the members. Until then, DOWNLOAD this album for free!
Recorded in Canada (where Rollermania was super intense at the time) with a new producer, Jimmy Ienner, who originally produced Raspberries with Eric Carmen and I'm sure his publishing ties had something to do with "Let's Pretend" being the opening track on the album. Along with the fact that it's a GREAT song and well suited for Leslie's voice.As useless memories go, I can still remember when I first heard "I Only Want To Be With You" on my little A.M. portable radio in my room and couldn't wait to get to the record store and buy the 45. And before you laugh at me, remember I was 6 years old.
Also on side one, we're treated to the only two Eric Faulkner/Stuart Wood songs on the album and they are both highlights not only on the album but as must hear songs for BCR fans. "You're A Woman" is a nice McCartney style ballad for the young female fan base and "Rock 'N Roller" is for the rockers. Leslie, Eric and Woody share the lead vocal and to this day I still can't really understand all the lyrics.
The side closer is Harry Vanda/George Young's "Yesterday's Hero" with added hysteria recorded live at the Rollers' Nathan Square appearance in Toronto. The 45 version that is released later is remixed and has Pat McGlynn on the picture sleeve. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, he was the 3rd Roller in less than 2 years that we had to accept. Tellingly, on the Arista "Greatest Hits" album released later in 1977 after McGlynn split the band, they renamed the song "Yesterday's Heroes." Ouch!
Side two is a bit weaker and starts soft with "My Lisa" before foolishly attempting a cover version of "Don't Worry Baby" and then the goofiness of "Are You Cuckoo?" doesn't help. Another original is next called "Write A Letter" but it's also a super mellow love song (credited to Wood, McKeown and Mitchell). Newbie Ian Mitchell is spotlighted vocally on the title track closer, "Dedication" which has a great arrangement and nice call and response from Les at the end. Within months, Ian Mitchell left the band and Arista released "Dedication" as a single with Leslie's voice replacing Ian's.Finally, as a Roller fan for many years, you can ABSOLUTELY tell that it's the BAY CITY ROLLERS playing their instruments on the albums. Come on, Derek Longmuir is GREAT and Eric Faulkner holds up as a legitimately talented guitarist. Stuart 'Woody' Wood is a multi-instrumentalist, still successful in the music industry (or what's left of it). Before Ian Mitchell's departure in 1976, the Rollers filmed a UK TV special called "Rollercoaster" that features the band filmed at Eden Studios doing rawer, stripped down versions of these songs and it's probably better than the real album!