Roman Holliday

  • Roman Holliday
  • Cookin' on the Roof (Jive) 1983 
  • Roman Holliday EP (Jive) 1983 
  • Fire Me Up (Jive) 1984 

Typical of the ability of English pop to absorb virtually any musical style so long as the band dresses colorfully, the seven-man Roman Holliday (the name intentionally misspelled to differentiate it from the film title) succeeded for a minute by playing fired-up jumpin’ jive in sailor caps. The five-song EP, an American teaser compiled from UK singles, is great fun, containing “Stand By,” “Motor Mania” and “Don’t Try to Stop It.” Dead catchy, and brilliantly produced by Peter Collins.

Cookin’ on the Roof expands the EP to ten numbers but with no accompanying increase in entertainment. The new tracks are largely over-stylized and under-ingenious. Music this derivative and gimmicky requires pinpoint accuracy in hitting just the right balance of new and old; the filler isn’t bad, just dispensable in light of their better efforts.

Following a top-to-bottom rethink by the band, Fire Me Up sounds nothing like its predecessor. Looking like rockabilly sharpies and soft-pedaling the horns and jazz in favor of synths and modern rock’n’roll, Roman Holliday’s bland new direction is strictly yesterday’s news. Useless. And “One Foot Back in Your Door,” the Mutt Lange-written single which leads off the LP, is really bad bombast.

[Ira Robbins]