Album Review — Smokie: Solid Ground

By  Dave Thompson

Smokie was nearing the end of the road now, but the group had had a great run for its money. Almost a decade had elapsed since the Chapman-Chinn hit-making machine first plucked them out of obscurity and redirected the group as the Bubblegum Eagles, and almost as long had passed since the band shrugged off that mantel and chose one of its own.

Synonymous with soft rocking easy listening through the remainder of the 1970s, and, incidentally, responsible for some of the most resonant European hits of the age (“Living Next Door To Alice” is the greatest), Smokie finally ran out of hits at the end of the decade, and these two albums — from 1981 and 1982, respectively — find the group embracing that fate… by turning its back on the fickleness of commercial fame and kicking out instead with a startling hybrid of traditional Smokie harmonies, and percolating ’80s production techniques.

Weird in places, but still as unquestionably majestic as the best of the band had always been, the two albums are the sound of a band having fun for its own sake — so yes, a little self-indulgent in places, and certainly not a patch on the joys of earlier years. But, by no means as bad as they could have been, and if you’ve followed the Smokie story this far, there’s no way you could be disappointed

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