Ricochet from 1981 is the kind of album that seems destined to languish in bargain bins for all eternity, still sealed in its original shrink wrap. After all, it was recorded by Scottish pop quintet Bay City Rollers after that band had swapped lead singers, with South African Duncan Faure replacing Les McKeown. The act had also moved from Arista Records to Epic and shortened its name to simply Rollers. Under any name, the group had not scored a hit single in America or the U.K. since 1977. Even the Rollers’ fiercely loyal fans, the kilt-wearing “Tartan Horde,” had moved on by then. Other than some latter-day reunion discs, this was pretty much the band’s last attempt at a studio album, i.e., the one that made them decide not to record another long-player. The obscure record did not chart in any country. Nevertheless, over at The Federalist, writer Matthew Walther makes a convincing case for why Ricochet should be considered Bay City Rollers’ overlooked pop gem. He even calls it “a masterpiece worthy of Big Star or Badfinger.”
Walther writes a bit about his own experiences as a Rollers fan and admits that even he was totally in the dark about the neglected Faure era of the band until very recently. Ricochet offers evidence that the band had matured by 1981, moving away from bubblegum pop for the teenybopper audience toward “a straight-ahead power pop aesthetic,” similar to The Cars. Maybe the record-buying audience wasn’t ready for this stylistic change, or maybe people were too busy buying discs by Squeeze, Human League, and Men At Work to notice. Either way, rock and pop fans missed out on what Walther deems “a classic rainy day cheer-up record.” The happy news here is that Ricochet is still (somewhat) available in 2016 and just waiting for rediscovery. Walther recommends the vinyl edition over the “thin” sounding compact disc. The album’s initial commercial failure means that “you won’t find it on Spotify, and only a few of the songs have ever been uploaded to YouTube,” the writer warns.
But there’s a full-fledged music video for the infectious, Faure-written “Doors, Bar, Metal,” a track Walther compares favorably to Small Faces. “I can’t hear more than 10 seconds of it without lighting a cigarette,” he enthuses.