Album of the Day: CHARLIE’s Fantasy Girls

CHARLIE was a British band, that initially started out as a fairly hard-rock guitar band, and it’s the band’s 1976 debut album Fantasy Girls that is easily the best in their catalogue (IMO). The band here comprised of Terry Thomas (lead vocals, guitar), John Anderson (bass, backing vox), Steve Gadd (drums, percussion), and Martin Smith (guitar, backing vox). Fantasy Girls came with different covers for each side of the Atlantic; I prefer the UK version, subsequent albums would feature models on the covers, which were an improvement.

As for the songs, this album is full of great guitar, with plenty of different styles and blends, heavy in places, harmonies, melodies… Not quite an overly heavy band, but holding back with smooth production, and a variety of cuts. Some massive solos, like these guys were torn between wanting to be an-out 2-guitar hard-rock/metal act and vocally an American smooth sounding AOR band. Regardless, every track is good here, but highlights have to be the title track, as well as “Prisoners”, the single “TV Dreams”, and the closing straight ahead rocker “Summer Romances”.

There’s not a lot out there (that I could find) in the press, and I suspect it wasn’t huge at the time. No North American single. Follow up albums seemed to get somewhat softer and smoother (tho’ I do like No Second Chance and Good Morning America!). Fantasy Girls has been reissued a few times – including one from Renaissance Records in 2006 with Another cover! Drummer Stephen Gadd would go on to be a drum tech for Iron Maiden years later, and Terry Thomas would become a major producer, notably with Bad Company in the ’80s (notably with Tommy Shaw, Bad Company, Foreigner, Giant, and Tesla).

CHARLIE- Fantasy Girls, Columbia PC 34081. Good,
straight -ahead rock set from British quartet who approach rock in a simple, forward fashion. Good lead and good harmony and backup vocals, with lyric quality better than in most of the newer rock groups. Nothing extreme, as the band stays away from the heavy metal syndrome. More along the lines of some of the better fun rock of the ’60s. Best cuts: “Fantasy Girls,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “First Class Traveller,” “Please Let Me Know,” “Summer Romances.” Dealers: Several potential singles here.
– Billboard

CHARLIE: ‘Fantasy Girls’ (Polydor Super 2383 373)
When I saw Charlie on the Old Grey Whistle Test, I thought they were
tedious Their album, however, shows a much tighter control of the music then the live appearance. Their main problem scorns from a lack of originality. Their playing is competent but couldn’t be distinguished from the sound of a 101 other bands. Their lyrics aren’t exactly gripping either, le: “I have my dreams although I’m broke, acute skintitús is no joke.” That speaks for itself I think.
– Rosalind Rusael, Record Mirror


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