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Baby Faced Killer

David Byron

℗ 1978 Arista Records AL 1077

David Byron • 1978 • Baby Faced Killer

David Byron's first post-Uriah Heep solo album found the singer trying on a number of new musical styles in a bid to establish a new musical identity. Working with producer/multi-instrumentalist Daniel Boone, Byron created an album that was much poppier and musically ambitious than the gothic hard rock that earned him his fame. In fact, Baby Faced Killer is a veritable genre-hopping extravaganza, covering territory as diverse as rockabilly ("Rich Man's Lady"), pure pop ("Heaven or Hell"), and even disco ("African Breeze"). Surprisingly, the album manages to live up to this sense of ambition because its songs are catchy, well-crafted, and brought to life with imaginative arrangements. Highlights include "Only You Can Do It," a song that balances spacey Uriah Heep-styled guitar riffs with a harmony-drenched pop melody, and "African Breeze" crafts an insidiously catchy melody by layering tribal rhythms and chanting over a percolating synthesizer backdrop. The downside of Baby Faced Killer is that it tries to do so much on one album that it never establishes a strong overall identity and this limits its appeal: it rocks a little too hard for pop fans but is too slick and pop-oriented to satisfy a hard rock audience. It also occasionally lapses into imitation of the styles it explores. The most notable example is "Heaven or Hell," which follows the melody of Electric Light Orchestra's "Turn to Stone" a little too closely for its own good. Despite these problems, Baby Faced Killer remains a stylish and likeable album that represents David Byron's finest post-Uriah Heep work. — Donald A. Guarisco.