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Rollerworld: Live at the Budokan 1977

Bay City Rollers

℗ 2001 Bodyguard Records 029120002

℗ 2009 barin.livejournal.com BR LLD 29283

Bay City Rollers  2001  Rollerworld: Live at the Budokan 1977

It's hard to believe it was over so quickly. In Britain, Bay City Rollers reigned supreme for something less than two years. In America, they were tops for a little more than one. Only in Japan did their fame sustain for anything more than a couple of blinks of an eye and, by 1977 just three years after "Shang a Lang" topped charts around the world that land remained the Rollers' last stronghold. But what a stronghold it was, repository of some of the wildest hysteria in the entire Rollerworld. Hence the title of this collection; hence the unrelenting undulation of screaming and joy that forms a backdrop to the main attraction. Rollerworld is the Rollers' first and only live album, which is a shame because an earlier recording would have featured a very different, and far more representative live set. Wherefore "Shang a Lang"? Wherefore "Remember," wherefore "Summerlove Sensation"? Not even reserved for the encores, the band's greatest hits have been filed under futile, to be replaced by an Incredible String Band cover. "It's a Game," the last of the Rollers' even vaguely memorable 45s, opens a show that has Serious Musicians stamped all over it. The surviving handful of "oldies" are, without exception, the ones that have a degree of classic class stamped on them. "Wouldn't You Like It" and a triumphantly stamp-along "Saturday Night" alone hail from the days of true tartan terrorism; "Rock 'n' Roll Love Letter" and "Yesterday's Heroes" represent the Dedication album; and "Money Honey" and "I Only Wanna Be with You" are the only prime-era hits. There's also a sterling version of David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," spiraling out with even more aplomb than its (already unexpectedly superlative) studio counterpart. But the heart of Rollerworld is unremittingly grim. No matter how solid the wall of screams behind them, there's no denying that the Rollers lost a lot more than a few catchy choruses when they finally stopped chewing the bubblegum. They also lost heart, and songs like "Don't Let the Music Die," "Don't Stop the Music," "You Made Me Believe in Magic," and "Eagles Fly" aren't simply barely memorable AOR noodles, they are also utter tripe, crucifyingly soulless in a way that only reformed pop idols seeking artistic integrity can be. The final word on this sad affair, however, contrarily falls at the dawn of the disc, as they launch into the Easybeats' "Yesterday's Hero." When the Rollers first recorded it, in 1975, Rollermania was at its peak, and the irony was lost on no one. Now the scenario had come painfully true, but it wasn't the kids who had deserted the band. It was the band who'd deserted the kids. Rollerworld captures them in full flight. Dave Thompson.