Sniff ´N´ The Tears – The Game´s Up (1980)
Artist: Sniff ´N´ The Tears
Title: The Game´s Up
Label: Chiswick Records
For the group’s second album, 1980’s The Game’s Up, the band line-up consisted of Roberts, Netto, Dyche, South, and new keyboard player Mike Taylor. At this point the group had no permanent drummer, and a variety of session drummers were used.
The Game’s Up yielded no hits, and Netto left the group to establish a solo career, taking Dyche with him. This left Roberts as the sole remaining original member of Sniff ‘n’ The Tears. He decided to press on, and recruited Les Davidson as the group’s new guitarist and added Jamie Lane as the permanent drummer.
Paul Roberts (the singer and main writer for Sniff’n’ the Tears) writes some songs with nice solid stories to them, and then him and the band put some very good instrumental work around those lyrics. The music is kinda laid back, which (in my opinion) fits the material. Paul’s voice comes through clearly, but music is not some simple guitar strumming in the background.
The first song on the album is (IMO) the weakest. It’s also probably the only song that has any connection at all to the cover art (the cover art is actually a painting that Paul had done, and the record company in Germany thought it was a really cool painting so they wanted it for the cover). The original US release of this on vinyl had a much more reasonable picture on the cover, with a guy trying to cozy up to his date at a fancy restaurant. Not as eye-catching as this cover, but it was a much better match for the songs on the record!
The album has several excellent songs, with “What Can Daddy Do” (about a rich father and the life of a daughter that he spoils a bit too much), “If I Knew Then”, “5 & Zero” (a gambler in action, gambling at love while gambling for money), “Poison Pen Mail” (a relationship which has gone painfully sour), and “Rodeo Drive” (lifestyles of the rich and conspicuous, as well as those who fall by the wayside).
There are some great lyrics in these songs. Paul can write lyrics which can sound so real-to-life that it’s like listening into a conversation. You can check out the lyrics at the web site for the group, but you won’t quite get the feel of them until you hear him singing the words.
The music has something of a country-rock feel to it (like Eagles or maybe Dire Straits), with a bit more emphasis on having a rock-edge to the music than country story-telling. The music includes some well-done keyboard work as well as the standard guitar and drums. But the songs are not dominated by keyboards the way that some groups did back then, and which sounds so out-of-date now. The keyboards and the guitars are playing off each other, and they do a very good job at it.
1. The Game’s Up (3:56)
2. Moment of Weakness (3:17)
3. What Can Daddy Do (3:19)
4. Night Life (4:02)
5. If I Knew Then (4:57)
1. One Love (3:28)
2. 5 and Zero (4:42)
3. Poison Pen Mail (4:45)
4. Rodeo Drive (6:11)