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BILL LLOYD (Buy CDs by this artist)
Feeling the Elephant (Throbbing Lobster) 1987 (DB) 1990 (East Side Digital) 1996
Set to Pop (East Side Digital) 1994
Confidence Is High EP (Swed. Sound Asleep) 1995
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (Koch) 1999
SKY KINGS
From Out of the Blue (Rhino Handmade) 2000

Although his original claim to fame was as a country songwriter (and half of the hip country duo Foster and Lloyd, who recorded for RCA in the '80s), Bill Lloyd has always been a true popster at heart. His solo recordings are influenced equally by early Big Star, Anglo-pop and Everly Brothers-styled country; in addition to the requisite big, ringing guitars, Lloyd helps sets himself apart from the jangling crowd with humorous, often sardonic, lyrics.

Feeling the Elephant, which was remastered and issued on CD by DB in '90 and then given a third life (with bonus tracks) in '96 on ESD, is a super-strong collection of highly accomplished demos (most recorded on 8-track between '83 and '86) that showcases Lloyd's songwriting versatility and clear, expressive voice. Highlights include the full-throttle rocker "All at Once You Unzipped" and the insanely infectious "Nothing Comes Close." With songs like "Lisa Anne" (which contains the immortal line, "I've got a hole in my heart the size of your jacuzzi"), Feeling the Elephant is a must-hear for power pop fans.

After Foster and Lloyd split, Lloyd released Set to Pop, getting a little help from such friends as Marshall Crenshaw, Al Kooper, Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent and Poco's Rusty Young. A smidgen more country-influenced than Feeling the Elephant, Set to Pop is truly an embarrassment of hook-filled riches. There's nary a false step among the fifteen tracks, with the devastating post-breakup "I Know What You're Thinkin'," the hilarious "Channeling the King" (Elvis speaks with Bill from beyond the grave) and the plaintive "A Beautiful Lie" leading the way. Great, great songs that deserve a wider audience.

Confidence Is High is a solid five-songer (one of them co-written by Marvin Etzioni) that Lloyd recorded — solo, except for some overdubbed drums — in his Nashville home studio.

[John M. Borack]