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WORLD OF LEATHER (Buy CDs by this artist)
St. Mark's Place (UK Soundcakes) 1994
Jesus Christ Superstore (UK Soundcakes) 1999

British power pop auteur Tot Taylor is the man behind the throne in the World of Leather, a merry band floating around Liverpool singer/guitarist Mark Chase. The Tin Pan-loving Taylor co-wrote, plays keyboards on and produced St. Mark's Place, a bizarre glam-pop extravaganza that credits a couple of drummers and as many as eight (!) guitarists on a single track — not to mention a string quartet and horn trio — and still doesn't sound like anyone's Phil Spector fantasies got the better of them. Chase is more likely to ape early-'70s Bowie (which he does to cloying effect on "Baby Yamamoto") than Darlene Love, but that's just the beginning of this wild invention. Taylor wisely avoids burying the bright, amusing songs in overt style-mongering (which doesn't preclude witty asides, like the Raspberries/Wizzard seeds in the wry career projection of "Future Ex-Pop Star" or the Glitterized shoutalong stomp of "Boots in Space"), instead giving them room to stretch and breathe. The album occasionally drops the scrim of cleverness to reveal a pedestrian hack of no special sappy character (see "Paper Gun" or "When Saturday Comes"), but when the curtains go back up, St. Mark's Place is a colorful funhouse.

[Ira Robbins]