City Boy was a classic rock band originating from Birmingham, England. The band was known for their only US hit single “126.96.36.199” during the late 70s music era, and it was considered a feat considering punk rock and new wave gradually rising in the scene. Despite the sizable success, the band failed to take advantage of it, and as a result they split during the early 80s.
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Formation and early career
The seeds of the progressive/hard rock group City began in Birmingham, England. The band’s founding members — lead singer Lol Mason, singer/guitarist Steve Broughton, keyboardist/guitarist Max Thomas and bassist Chris Dunn were playing live acoustic sets at local venues. Broughton and Mason had been friends since prep school and shared a strong affinity towards music.
The band was then called Back-in-the-Band and played at folk venues around town. By the time the band turned professional in 1973 (or 1975) City Boy signed a deal with Phonogram Records. To complete the lineup, they hired drummer Roger Kent and guitarist Mike Slamer. However, Kent would soon be replaced by Roy Ward.
Producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange served as City Boys’s “additional member” and was behind the group’s first five LP’s. He also helped to improve Dunn in his bass playing and also took a part in the vocal harmonization. The band’s first singles, including “Shake My Head and Leave,” received some radio airplay particularly in Lange’s country South Africa. Their self-titled debut album in 1976 reached #177 on the Billboard 200 chart.
City Boy’s short-lived commercial success
City Boy eventually was able to break into the charts when their single “188.8.131.52.” reached the top ten of the British singles chart. It eventually made to the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, peaking at #27 there. The melodious style of the single helped it to achieve this feat considering the emerging punk rock and new wave genre that were starting to gain favor from the audience. The considerable success of “184.108.40.206.” helped its album Book Early to land at #115 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
City Boy’s next album The Day the Earth Caught Fire featured the title track which became the single as well, which turned only into a minor hit in their home country. Broughton and Dunn first quit, and their subsequent releases failed to attract any more major successes. It’s quite obvious that the audiences turned their favor toward other newer musical genres. Unable to sustain their earlier successes, City Boy disbanded in 1981 (or 1982). After the split, each of the former members went to their separate musical pursuits. Mason went on to form another band the Maisonettes, who also became a one hit wonder with a minor UK smash “Heartache Avenue.”
London-based indie label Cherry Red plans to re-issue the band’s first four LPs (with additional tracks) in a double CD format, sometime in 2015.