Bill Lloyd – Lloydering (SpyderPop Records)
Even though he's probably best known as half of the country duo Foster and Lloyd, Bill Lloyd has always been a popster at heart. He's released tons of sturdy, jangly power pop over the past three decades, including two classics of the genre: 1986's Feeling the Elephantand 1994's Set to Pop, which this writer ranked as one of the top 200 power pop albums of all time in the 2007 book Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. He was also a member of the alt-country/pop supergroup Swag for their lone 2001 album, alongside Robert Reynolds of the Mavericks, Sixpence None the Richer member Jerry Dale McFadden, former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, and singer Doug Powell.
In addition to his consistently swell original compositions, Lloyd has contributed plenty of ace tracks to various tribute discs over the years, and SpyderPop Records collects most of 'em on the new, 12-track collection titled Lloydering. With the exception of one previously unreleased tune from 2013 – a lovely reading of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Coconut Grove” – these covers were all originally released between the years 1990 and 2005, mainly on small, independent labels. As the bulk of the tributes from whence Lloydering’s tracks came are long out of print, this collection is a most welcome treat.
A quick glance at the artists Lloyd covers here is akin to perusing a power pop fan’s kickass record collection: there are tracks from ‘60s forefathers such as the Beatles, Byrds, Hollies, and Bobby Fuller Four; ‘70s titans Raspberries, Badfinger and Todd Rundgren; ‘80s heroes Let’s Active and the dB’s; and a few wild cards (Wreckless Eric and Harry Nilsson). Lloyd certainly does all of them proud: from the joyous, one man band sound of Bobby Fuller Four’s “Let Her Dance” (from a ridiculously impossible to find Japanese Fuller tribute released in 2001) and a gorgeously breezy, understated reading of Nilsson’s “The Lottery Song” (Better than the original? Perhaps.) to Lloyd’s rough and tumble, Who-like transformation of Raspberries “Goin’ Nowhere Tonight” (one of the highlights of a wildly uneven 1996 ‘Berries tribute), these are all spirited homages to many of Lloyd’s heroes and contemporaries.
A clever version of Wreckless Eric’s new wave touchstone “(I’d Go the) Whole Wide World” is another sublime cut: Lloyd reinvents the track by changing grooves and musical styles from verse to verse (“Goofy…but fun,” he says in the liner notes), yet still manages to retain the charm and overall feel of the original. A keyboard-heavy “I Don’t Want to Tie You Down” (Todd Rundgren) is beautifully sung, the Byrds’ “The World Turns All Around Her” is brimming with the requisite guitar jangle and harmonies (all Lloyd’s), a punchy “Lonely You” (an underrated Badfinger tune) is given more juice via harder-edged guitars, and the dB’s fab “Neverland” begins with just Lloyd and his acoustic guitar, then shifts gears and glides along on almost punk-like energy. Oh, and Lloyd’s splendid run through of the Hollies’ “Step Inside,” assisted by members of what he calls “the Nashville Pop Co-Op,” just may be my favorite cover of the past 30-odd years. Sheer perfection.
Between the impeccable track selection and Lloyd’s reverent-yet-passionate performances, Lloydering is a disc you’ll want to hear again and again. Don’t miss it. Grade: A