Tony Carey - Some Tough City

edited September 22 in year-1984

ARTIST: Tony Carey
ALBUM: Some Tough City
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2008, Renaissance, RMED-384 * 2012, Air Mail (Japan), AIRRAC-1676

LINEUP: Tony Carey - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Fine Fine Day * 02 A Lonely Life * 03 Eddie Goes Underground * 04 The First Days Of Summer * 05 Reach Out * 06 Tinseltown * 07 Hungry * 08 I Can Stop The World * 09 Some Tough City * 10 She Can Bring Me Love


Quite the mercurial talent is Tony Carey, whose first brush of musical fame arrived in 1976 when a scout of Ritchie Blackmore's discovered him in a Hollywood recording studio, suitably impressing the great man, leading to a one-album stint with Rainbow, 76's 'Rainbow Rising'.

Carey left Rainbow in 1977, not caring for Blackmore's legendary temper. Carey relocated to Germany in the late 70's on the advice of a friend, recording a virtual slew of instrumental albums.

It wasn't until 1982 when his first proper solo album was released, 'Tony Carey' (on the soon to be defunct Rocshire Records), while also undertaking the group project Planet P, an outlet for more of Carey's music.

Amidst this, he signed with MCA, and recorded perhaps his most well known AOR album, 'Some Tough City', which yielded a pair of hits in 'A Fine Fine Day' and 'The First Day Of Summer'. The tour he undertook in support of the album was his last in the U.S to date - now nineteen years ago!

The Songs

Running throughout the album is a theme of hard life in the big city, L.A. and New York for example, and Carey's songwriting is superb in portraying people down on their luck.

'A Fine Fine Day' is a wonderful opener, relaying the story of 'Sonny', a thief who 'disappears'. The use of organ is the key sound, a vague Bruce Springsteen connection bought with it. The overall sound is closer to 'North Coast' era Michael Stanley Band than anything, with a home-grown, earthy rock and roll sound, with huge use of AOR melody.

'Eddie Goes Underground' is a pounding rocker regarding a sex offender on the run, with some fascinating lyrics that at times overshadow the music.

Carey's most well known track 'The First Day Of Summer', is also the most melodic of the album, breathtaking chord changes aplenty with a perfect hook, which saw it rise to no 33 on the singles charts. I hear this one occasionally on the local 80's station, proof of its enduring quality.

Piercing synths provide the basis for 'Tinseltown', AOR of significant clarity, and a bridge with layer after layer of shifting melody and a fairly savage lead guitar break.

In a surprising shift in style 'Hungry' goes for a near replica of Donnie Iris' 1982/83 sound, with an upbeat chorus and a host of keyboard effects. The lyrics about barely making it, are at odds with the 'happy' mood.

The Michael Stanley comparisons run thick and fast through 'I Can Stop The World', raw US rock, something encapsulated by the title track and its hard-hitting lyrics about giving up in the city. A sax solo adds to that Springsteen/Stanley notion, almost an obligatory addition to that particular form of rock.

It ends as well as it began, the AOR ballad, 'She Can Bring Me Love', featuring some tasty riffs.

In Summary

This is an album that demands to be heard. Carey captured a real sense of emotions, whether it be despair, desperation or love.

This album runs Springsteen into the ground in terms of bleak urban landscapes. No track is wasted, melody exists within them all, and that Carey did it nearly all on his own, is a sign of a near-genius.

Sadly Carey's momentum was halted when his deal with MCA was cancelled due to a falling out with his manager, who signed the contract. Carey has achieved mass prominence in Europe since, thanks to his constant recording, his latest album being 2000's 'The Boystown Tapes'. Although he has been largely forgotten in the US, 'Some Tough City' is a vital acquisition for anyone who may be unaware of Carey thus far.

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina

    I ran into this LP and, having only heard Blue Highway from Tony's solo work, where do you think I found a useful review? Yes, here at GDM. Thank you Alun, great album to these ears too, just as you describe in your review.

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    mjf85mafmjf85maf That room at the back corner of my house where the volume won't bother the wife

    I absolutely love this record and it still gets a good bit of play today. I had the good fortune to see Carey on the tour to promote this album. A local radio station was sponsoring the show and tickets were a $1.01. I'd have paid whatever the going rate was at the time although now nearly 40 years on I can't recall what that might have been for a club show. I also took a friend with me and it was his first ever concert. We were queued up before the show to get a good spot and the band came out of their bus, crossed the street and as the passed us Tony said, "Are you all waiting to get into this dump?"

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    Great review, nice job with the Michael Stanley comparisons. Terrific album as is Blue Highway.

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    Hard to find a bad Tony Carey album - bit of a quiet genius !

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    Agreed…first time I heard “I won’t be home tonight” I knew this guy had a way with a chorus.

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    Planet P Project has some good stuff as well.

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    DaveTDaveT Buenos Aires, Argentina

    The first Planet P Project album is also reviewed here under the 'Tony Carey' tag.

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