Label/No.: Arista AB 4215
Peak Chart Position: #41
Producer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Singles: “Such a Woman” (Pop #26), “Slow Down Boy” (not charted)
Such a Woman
Slow Down Boy
Out in the Cold
Don’t You Cry No More
Too Late (New York City)
That’s the Way It Goes
How Long (Can We Go On)
Count On Me
Judging by the Cover: I’ll be honest. It was all about the mustaches for me. And the band got co-credit for the art direction! Actually, the combination of the airbrushed 70s faces and the cover’s obvious debt to Kraftwerk makes the band look like a bunch of Stepford Gays.
What It Sounds Like: Don’t let the drawn-out, dramatic introduction to “Such a Woman” fool you. This early “Mutt” Lange production is all about strong pop hooks, gigantic, seamlessly layered harmonies, and a thick, hard pop/rock sound that still leaves some room for some sleazy New York blue eyed soul moves (see “How Long (Can We Go On)”, the band’s slinky ode to gettin’ a little on the side) – a prototypical version of the sound he brought to Foreigner 4,Â though the band’s sound was too diverse (whiffs of reggae here and there) and distinctive to dismiss asÂ a mere corporate rock clone.Â Lead single “Such a Woman” made a respectable showing on the disco-dominated pop charts in early ’79 – no doubt helped along by a pornographic picture disc single. But the catchy, straightforward rocker “Slow Down Boy” seems like the more obvious candidate for heavy rotation. Even better than both the singles is “Don’t You Cry No More”, a soaring rock ballad with a majestic a capella opening that sounds awesome on headphones.Â
The band followed this album up with a record called Turn Out the Lights in 1981, but it tanked, partially due to the ascendance of new wave and synth pop, partially due to their label’s apparent indifference.Â Tycoon was dropped from Arista’s roster shortly thereafter, and while a third album, called Opportunity Knocks, was recorded, the band was unable to secure a deal to release it.Â In November of 2007, lead singer Norman Mershon, pictured at the far right on the album cover, died from liver disease at the age of 57.
Recommended if You Like: Foreigner, Those New Swiffer Commercials, Big Gay 70s Mustaches
CD Availability:Â Tycoon was issued digitally via iTunes a few years ago, thanks to the band’s friend and former manager Dean Sciarra, who runs a supercool website called ItsAboutMusic.com.Â Â He also sells digital downloads of this album, along with the band’s second album Turn Out the Lights (1981) and their otherwise unreleased third record Opportunity Knocks, completed after they were dropped from Arista Records.Â CDs of these albums are also available through ItsAboutMusic.com.Â I had a chance to chat with Sciarra and whileÂ he confirmed that these are CD-Rs, he vouches personally for the integrity of both the sound mastering and the CD packaging which attempts to recreate the individual album and sleeve art to the greatest extent possible; given his personal relationship with the band, I’d take him at his word (and the iTunes downloads I purchased confirm the integrity of the sound).Â The other cool thing about ItsAboutMusic is that the artists set their own prices for the CDs/downloads, and bank 90% of the actual purchase price.
The album was reissued on the Renaissance label as a twofer with the band’s second album Turn Out the Lights.Â But while this CD is readily available on Amazon.com (and a less expensive option), note that among reissue labels, Renaissance has a very poor reputation.Â According to Sciarra, for the Tycoon two-fer, Renaissance acquired incorrect masters forÂ the records, andÂ so what you hear on the vinyl is notÂ what you get on the CD.Â Â Keep the vinyl. It’s good.Â
The Highlight Reel:Â Snippets of “Such a Woman”, “Slow Down Boy”, “Don’t You Cry No More”, and “How Long (Can We Go On This Way)”