Vocalist Terry Sharpe and guitarist Pat Gribben began the sophisticated harmony-pop Adventures in London after their former group, Belfast’s spunky Starjets, split up in 1980. On its classy if overproduced debut, the quintet — boasting three singers (including Gribben’s wife, Eileen) and no on-board drummer — crafts crisp, commercial guitar/keyboards music distinguished by attractive melodies and striking harmonies. Slickly mainstream without being hollow or obnoxious (despite a stack of guest synthesists), Theodore and Friends (issued in the US as The Adventures) has a couple of great songs — the sweeping “Send My Heart” (which sounds like it was written for a synth-pop band) and the falsetto-sung African-accented “Another Silent Day” — plus pleasantly diverting also-rans.
Adding a drummer and adopting a warmer, semi-acoustic adult-rock sound, the Adventures essayed The Sea of Love with less artistic success. The songs aren’t as good (Gribben’s lyrical pretensions are such that he can base a song here on The Trip to Bountiful), and the performances lack the first LP’s instrumental sparkle.
Stemming a drift towards becoming a bookish Abba, the again-drummerless Adventures engaged producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who gave Trading Secrets with the Moon an intimate sound colored with bits of fiddle, organ, horns, pedal steel and traditional Irish instruments. Unfortunately, the tasteful arrangements also minimize the band’s backing vocals, leaving Gribben alone in the spotlight to sing his bland poetry. Lloyd Cole co-wrote one song, the countryish “Desert Rose.”