Pilot formed in Edinburgh in early 1973, after David Paton and Bill Lyall fled the Bay City Rollers. Yes, THE Bay City Rollers. Though BCR would not reach global exposure until a few years later, Paton and Lyall were not comfortable with the iron-fisted management of Tam Paton (no relation to David) or the teenybopper image he was trying to cultivate for the band. The duo quickly enlisted Stuart Tosh and Ian Bairnson to complete the lineup and Pilot was born. EMI were quick to show interest and by 1974, the band had issued their debut album. Their first single, "Magic" became a smash hit and Pilot were soon the darlings of pop on both sides of the Atlantic. In early 1975, the band's sophomore effort, "Second Flight" was released.
This album was an improvement over the debut, with stronger hooks and a broader balance of songwriting credits. With loopy Moog synths warbling in and out of the arrangements and the trebly fluid guitar work of Bairnson, the album was bursting with extraordinary bubblegum pop. Three singles were spawned to great success in the UK, which enabled the band to spend more time in the studio crafting their follow up, "Morin Heights". The album, though bold in its grandeur, was met with relative apathy and soon the band began to splinter. By 1977, only Paton and Bairnson remained and one last album was issued that year, "Two's a Crowd".
Since the band's split, each member went on to work with established artists like Alan Parsons Project, Camel, 10cc, Keats, Elton John, Dollar and others. Lyall passed away in 1989 from an AIDS related illness. In recent years, the surviving members of Pilot have worked in various configurations under the Pilot name, issuing a new album and touring the far east.
I recommend anyone who enjoys bouyant melodies and lilting arrangements to give Pilot a try. Though they were often written off as fluff, their canon in retrospect has proven to be timeless and accomplished. You will LOVE this stuff...
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