The first time I heard “Magic,” I thought it was the latest single by the Hollies. Blooming blissfully with bigger than life harmonies uncannily similar to those exercised by Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks, the spellbinding song reached the No. 5 spot on the American charts in the spring of 1975, leading Pilot to be one of the most promising new groups of the year.
Although the Edinburgh, Scotland based band failed to repeat such success on these shores, they continued to reap substantial airplay in assorted pockets around the globe.
Not only did “Magic” mirror the finest hours of the Hollies, but so did plenty of Pilot’s other tunes. Sheets of effervescent vocals, laid neatly atop bright textures and daring melodies, defined the band’s philosophy. Strains of the Bee Gees, psychedelic-era Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra further peppered Pilot’s efforts, but these influences were simply starting points, as the band’s approach and the production values were thoroughly contemporary. Innovative synthesizer passages, combined with clever arrangements administered a generous portion of the group’s material.
Along with “Magic,” this 17 track package from Collectables Records includes equally great songs like “January,” “Over The Moon,” “Just A Smile,” “Don’t Speak Loudly,” “Canada” and “Sooner Or Later.” Freckled with whirling and twirling curves, “High In The Sky” ably mixes pure pop instincts with progressive rock aspirations, where “Never Give Up” examines a harder and heavier side of the band.
Pilot’s principal theme may have been pop, but they were adventurous enough to occasionally garnish their radio-ready treasures with surprising quirks, resulting in a rather arty flair.