Posted on 02 June 2017


The Keys – “The Keys Album”

The Keys Album

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Sometime around 2005, my good friend Stefan Johannson sent me a copy of a power
pop compilation called Shake Some Action, Vol. 1 UK, and while there was a lot of great
music on the CD, one track stood out well above the others: “I Don’t Wanna Cry” by a
band called the Keys. I had never heard the song and had never heard of the band, but I
could not shake the song! If you’ve heard it, you know what I mean. A perfect slice of
Beatle-esque pop with an incredibly active and memorable melody, some well-placed
Searchers 12-string fills and tight harmonies throughout. The quest was set and the quarry
was The Keys.

DOWNLOAD – “I Don’t Wanna Cry” – HERE

I tracked down a copy of the album on eBay and was not disappointed. In fact, I was
amazed that the album had somehow escaped my notice on its original UK release
on A&M in 1981. Working the same musical territory as bands like the Jags and the
Vapors—but also bearing the imprint of their more famous producer Joe Jackson—the
Keys offer some of the best power pop of the time. Their discography is brief: the one
album and six singles (and seven of the single sides appear on the LP) but the quality of
their recorded work is remarkable, with great pop songs and taut, energetic arrangements.


Some of the songs reflect the influence of their producer to the point of distraction,
especially “It Ain’t So” and “Saturday to Sunday Night,” but the bulk of the tracks
display the band’s more traditional sensibilities. The standout tracks are “One More
Reason” (a ‘50s style vocal piece a little reminiscent of Roy Hamilton’s “Don’t Stop”),
“Spit It Out” (a nearly perfect blend of ‘60s American pop and British mod), “If It’s Not
Too Much” (an economical Merseyside pastiche), “Greasy Money” (a lovely ballad that
would have fit right in on the Rumour’s Max or Brinsley Schwartz’s Nervous on the
Road), and, of course, “I Don’t Wanna Cry.”

The Keys’ personnel included main songwriter and bassist Drew Barfield, guitarists
Steve Tatler and Ben Grove, and drummer Geoff Britton. Beatle fans will remember
Britton from his brief stint as the drummer for Paul McCartney and Wings during the
Nashville sessions that resulted in the single “Junior’s Farm” and the initial sessions
for Venus and Mars. Barfield most recently played in Los Pacaminos, a Tex-Mex band
with ‘80s superstar Paul Young, while Ben Grove joined The Retros.

To date, the album has not been reissued on CD, though given its major-label status and
its Joe Jackson connection, a reissue is eventually likely. While I had never seen a copy
of the album in my local record stores, I had no trouble finding it on eBay and have since
seen copies regularly offered there and on GEMM. So, go on, get a copy!

—Peter Marston


Pop Pioneer and “Lost Treasures” writer, Peter Marston is the leader of long-running power pop band, Shplang, whose most recent album, “My Big Three Wheeler” has been described as “the Beatles meet Zappa in pop-psych Sumo match.”  Peter has a new project in 2015 under the name MARSTON.   Marston have a track on the latest “Power Pop Planet – Volume 5” compilation just out now and available at:  www.PopGeekHeavenStore.com.

CHECK OUT SHPLANG out at this link:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shplang


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