I can’t remember the exact year I actually met Bill Lloyd but I remember that I heard him before I met him. Vanderbilt’s radio station played his song “Feeling the Elephant” often. Having just moved back to Nashville to begin a career in entertainment law, I took this as a good sign. Nashville was producing power pop – with great lyrics and lots of guitars and I was in the right place.
I finally met Bill through my dear friend Mary Divney. For some reason we ended up at Bill’s apartment and I admired his record collection – just like my own, only on steroids. Since that time I cannot tell you the number of artists Bill has introduced me to or increased my appreciation of (the Beach Boys for starters).
But all of this is kind of insignificant next to the fact that Bill has been a great friend for the past 25 years or more and I’ve had a rare vantage point to see his development as an artist and a song writer. Bill has had a fascinating parallel career as a successful country song writer/artist and as an indie rock solo artist. The music that Bill has recorded with Foster & Lloyd is cool (and I think has developed an almost archetypal sound in country music) but for my money, its Bill’s solo albums (five proper albums plus scads of compilations, etc.) that set him apart. I was always proud of the fact that my law partner and I were able to negotiate a “solo indie rock” exclusion into Foster & Lloyd’s RCA recording agreement and that his first solo album came out about the same time as his major label country debut.
Bill’s solo records have never really varied sonically over the years, and that’s a good thing: lots of guitars, drums and smart insightful lyrics. Part of the reason for this is that he’s used many of the same cast of characters on his records.
Which brings us to the new album: “Boy King of Tokyo”. The difference on this album is that Bill plays all of the instruments as well as handling all of the vocals. This of course puts him in that unique camp of overachievers like Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Emmit Rhodes. It’s also astonishingly tight – you’d never know this was one guy. The instrumentation does not detract from the quality of the songs. “Boy King Tokyo” is a wry bit of autobiography (dig the cover art), “The Best Record Ever Made” is a nice sequel to the earlier “Cool and Gone, “ and the songs “Let It Slide,” “Up in the Air” and “Where Nobody Cares at All” all feature that rare combination of rock and roll sensibility and (God help me) maturity.
There’s a lot more here. You need to own all of Bill’s records but if you don’t have them this is a good place to start. The CD is available through Bill’s web site (billloydmusic.net) and through all the usual download sites. Here’s to another 25 years of friendship and great records.