In order for a band or artist to succeed, it’s necessary to develop an identity, and it’s equally as important to stick with that, at least when starting out. Not that a band can’t or shouldn’t change or experiment with different sounds, mind you; growth is expected. When a band has dueling identities, however, it can often cause confusion for both listening audience and business interests alike. Such was the case for British pop band Chicory Tip, as witnessed by the new collection The Complete Chicory Tip, which compiles their entire discography on two discs.
If recalled at all, Chicory Tip is tagged with “one hit wonder” status. Though the term can be damning, it isn’t inaccurate; they had but one true hit, “Son Of My Father,” a delightful little electronic-pop number written by soon-to-be-superstar Giorgio Moroder. Distinctive for its use of Moog synthesizer, it would go to the top levels of the charts in several countries in May 1972, yet the band would soon fade from view almost as quickly, releasing a handful of other Moroder compositions before disbanding two years later.
So what went wrong?
Listening to the thirty tracks here, it becomes obvious that Chicory Tip didn’t have a clear-cut identity. On “I Couldn’t Spend Another Day Without You” and “Pride Comes Before A Fall,” they were Sunshine Pop. Yet on “I Love Onions” and “Friend Of Mine,” they opted for a roots-rock sound not unlike King Harvest or Mungo Jerry. Then they’d pull out all the bubblegum pop stops on “My Girl Sunday” and “Marianne.” If that weren’t enough, they could also turn in some heavier rock numbers, as heard on the Steppenwolf-like “The Future Is Past” and “Don’t Hang Jack.” Then there were the Moroder singles, which were fun, Moog-driven numbers that while a delight, simply didn’t sound much like anything else they had released. Though follow-up Moroder composition “What’s Your Name” was also a minor hit, the other numbers of his that they released simply sounded derivative of “Son Of My Father.” Thus, once realizing that the formula was no longer working, they released original composition “Take Your Time Caroline,” a softer bubblegum number that could have been mistook for a completely new band.
Unsurprisingly, they would release one more single, the upbeat yet ironically titled “Survivor,” before calling it a day; they would reform several decades later and continue to perform on the oldies circuit. It’s a shame that they aren’t more highly regarded, as nothing on The Complete Chicory Tip is bad. If anything, most of the material here is top-notch, and the pop confections on offer here are worthy of rediscovery. It’s just an unfortunate truth that the diversity of sound was not its strength.