CBS 1977 / Esoteric 2018
Final chapter of British duo’s glamorous ride from dusk to dawn, and onto to its debut on CD.
John Ford and Richard Hudson used to occupy a glittery edge of serious ensembles they yet failed to unfold their own concepts in VELVET OPERA and STRAWBS, so when it came to HUDSON-FORD the friends’ romantic ideas and humorous schemes had a field day. Still, by the second half of the ’70s this endeavor had run out, too, and “Daylight” proved to be the duo’s last-ever longplay, the record’s subtle monumentality a testament to their joie de vivre. Not a concept album per se, the songs on display demonstrate a circular structure, a daisy chain of sorts, which makes for a great listen, but while the result remains a product of its era, its allure is irresistible.
There’s charm in the woozy lucidity of the title track that was split in two to lead in and out of the album yet is protruded a funky bone – a prominent feature of the entire record – and infused with elements of other numbers to become a different song in a single version, a reverse of both “Waterfall” which turns regular reggae into effervescent swirl of a confetti-like tune, and “Sold On Love” which flexes a disco muscle in the most obvious way in a contrast to the grand, albeit delicate, lyricism of “Lost In A Lost World” – one more petite predecessor of the LP and one of a several bonuses on this reissues. Of course, the brass-splashed middle-of-the-road drift of “Out Of Your Shadow” may seem dated, but its sweet gloss is a perfect reflection of the period when such pieces could set the world on fire, especially if a riff arrived on the otherwise serene surface, so the drama that’s defined here is passed first to “Simple Man” to sparkle, and then to “95 In The Shade” whose languid flow feels quite vain.
Nothing can defy “Kiss In The Dark” in the emotional stakes, though, as guitars and orchestral strings smash soft, symphonic harmonies against acoustically tinctured hard rock constructs; nothing except the magnificent “Let It Rain” which is filled with elegiac English shimmer. At the same time, the brisk, sax-smeared “Shy Girl” is trying to harness Philly sound, and the philosophical “Poor Boy” – also divided between two sides to keep it tightly together – is taking folk motif over the baroque rainbow. That’s where the band’s minor hit “Are You Dancing” can be found, shaking its feathers most infectiously, with “Wicked Lady” adding celestial vibes to the mirrorball.
Unfortunately, the chart appeal couldn’t save the duo who were to split, too, as John decided to cross the Atlantic and Richard preferred to stay in Albion. They would regroup in a few years as THE MONKS and serve up classics “Nice Legs Shame About Her Face” and "Suspended Animation" only to never capture the erstwhile magic again, so “Daylight” stands as the friends’ final statement – signed off with a flourish and still shining.