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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.

Bonus Review

There isn't much to say about Tycoon except that their clinical approach to haute pop is commercially successful ("Such a Woman" is the hit single here) and they have terrific energy. But they have a "committee" sound, an amalgam of writing and arranging ideas adapted from other, older bands. The aggressive vocals remind me of Three Dog Night (as do the arrangements), and one number, "Don't You Cry No More," is so close to Kansas' "Carry On My Wayward Son" that nostrils may even now be twitching in some lawyer's office. But pop music tends to go in cycles, so there's room for a reincarnation of a defunct group. Tycoon's impersonation of Three Dog Night is close -- close but no cigar.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 7/79.

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