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Tycoon
Arista 4215
Released: March 1979
Chart Peak: #41
Weeks Charted: 17

Tycoon is the East Coast's answer to Toto: another collection of seasoned session musicians and sidemen who probably figured it was time to earn respect and express themselves by forming a band. Fine. But while it's easy to enjoy the group's formulaic, Seventies studio rock -- these guys serve up plenty of catchy melodies and precise harmonies over a flawless blend of guitars and keyboards -- it's mighty hard to admire it. Unfortunately, what shackles this debut record is the band's obsession with sophistication and control. Because Tycoon's rock hasn't much roll and its pop generally lacks buoyancy, no real personality or charm emerges from the mix.

Not that the group doesn't attempt to sculpt itself a face. The sentiments expressed in many of the lyrics -- romantic longing, fear and faith -- come from people whose intentions seem admirable. But the songs, with the exception of "Drunken Sailor," simply don't fire. Norman Mershon's lead vocals are merely pleasant, and the band's baffling overuse of harmonies usually manages to depersonalize the words. Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out why Tycoon's members sing the line, "Don't leave me out in the cold," with contentment in their voices.

As ear candy, though, Tycoon is somewhat successful -- listen to the Oriental colorings in "Such a Woman" or the keen sax solo in "Count on Me" -- and certainly boasts more hooks than those on albums by most groups of this ilk.

- Mitchell Schneider, Rolling Stone, 7/26/79.

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