THE BALANCING ACT Curtains (1988)

Curtains (1988)
Outstanding Acoustic Curio

Imagine finally getting your big shot, snaring a label deal, and you and your pals muster a magical mind meld to create an album that even you recognize as a damn fine piece of work. Then imagine no one even bothering to hear it. That’s what happened to these guys. Curtains is The Balancing Act’s third and last 80s release, with lyrics as acutely crafted as Difford & Tilbrook’s, harmonies as good as anybody’s and advanced acoustic arrangements of (what are essentially) finely crafted pop songs, all combining to give this album a truly unique sound and vibe. A playful seriousness that hangs well. “Understanding Furniture” could be a lost Hollies song as performed by medieval folk revivalists. “Generator” is a detailed account of… just that. The gorgeous “Between Two Oceans” not only musically captures the dockside atmospherics, it lyrically tells a story of how the import/export business can be viewed through the prism of love. Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill’s production is the weakest link, though, it was the late 80s, so cut him some slack. Now imagine this LP as produced by Bookends-era Roy Halee… Get their others, Campfire Songs EP, Three Squares And A Roof and some rarities. Amazon.

Generator (3:18)
She Doesn’t Work Here (3:03)
Lost In The Mail (3:49)
Red Pants And Romance (3:08)
Dangerous Roof (2:49)
Can You Get To That (3:34)
Understanding Furniture (3:18)
Sleep On The Trusty Floor (3:24)
Fishing In Your Eye (3:27)
Between Two Oceans (4:23)
Learning How To Cheat (3:35)


  • Willard
    October 23, 2009 - 19:51 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Mona
    October 27, 2009 - 14:49 | Permalink

    Never heard of this and will give it a spin. It's funny re: Andy Gill's production. If you visit his web site it is obviously something that he is immensly proud of and yet…well Michael Hutchence comes to mind/Chilli peppers, all pretty horrible to my ears (and I speak here as someone who LOVES GO4!

  • Capt. Willard
    October 27, 2009 - 18:08 | Permalink

    HA! Never said it was "bad," just 80s. Actually, there are a lot of interesting touches, and some extra coolness buried in the mix. But when you hear, say, T-Bone's work with Peter Case, it's easier to hear how a sensitive production job can sometimes make or break an album. It's a great record. It's not like anything is Gill's fault. People ignored the band's excellent debut LP, Three Square And A Roof, too.

  • Anonymous
    October 27, 2009 - 21:05 | Permalink

    Thanks for this. I had it on cassette many years ago and it`ll be nice to have it again.

  • Duncanmusic
    October 27, 2009 - 21:09 | Permalink

    I love finding hidden treasures like this. I remember it from my record store days in the 80s. I was inundated with promos in those days (I was the store buyer) to the tune of 75-100 promo LPs, 45s and 12" singles/EPs per WEEK. I was lucky I heard what I did during those days. It was only after I quit for a few years that I was able to catch up listening on a lot of backlog…then came financial catastrophe and I had to sell off the BIG collection in 1993. This went and I am glad to see it again and would support what you said about it as being VERY underappreciated.

    Same period…have you ever run across The Central Park Sheiks on Flying Fish? Something like a more Swing based Pop version of Mark Knopfler's Notting Hillbillies in sound (that's what the Notting Hillbillies reminded me of first hearing). I think they were very good and sadly ignored much as The Balancing Act was.

  • Jeff Greenstein
    October 28, 2009 - 05:22 | Permalink

    This is a wonderful record (as is their first, Three Squares and a Roof). My favorite tracks are Generator (Andy Gill on guitar), Can You Get to That (a Funkadelic cover) and Dangerous Roof.

    I saw The Balancing Act open for Robyn Hitchcock at Club Lingerie way back when and have been a faithful fan ever since. Thanks for giving them some attention.

  • Capt. Willard
    October 28, 2009 - 16:44 | Permalink

    Don't know those guys Duncan, will keep an eye out for them. Thanks for all the comments.

  • Tony Tee
    October 30, 2009 - 22:52 | Permalink

    I have never seen anyone else who remembered or even heard of the Balancing Act. I have this lp and an earlier ep called "New Campfire Songs", and they always made me smile. Thanks for posting!

  • Anonymous
    November 2, 2009 - 18:53 | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for posting. This takes me back to my late-80s college days when we had them come to campus for a show with Guadalcanal Diary, I think. Any chance you've got Three Squares and A Roof? My copy has long since bit the dust.

  • Capt. Willard
    November 2, 2009 - 19:04 | Permalink

    Actually, yes. It was issued on CD, coupled with their Campfire Songs EP. I'll try to get it up this week.

  • Festus Von Gunsmoke
    November 2, 2009 - 19:21 | Permalink

    I though I was the only one who remembered them! I also love their cover of Captain Beefheart's "Zig Zag Wanderer," which promted a reviewer at the time to annoint the song as "the new Louie Louie." Ah, if only we actually lived in such a world.

  • Anonymous
    November 25, 2009 - 17:25 | Permalink

    Been looking for "New Campfire Songs" for ages. What a classic. Thanks for posting!

  • Anonymous
    April 20, 2010 - 06:21 | Permalink

    Rumor has it there's a Balancing Act reunion in the works this summer in Los Angeles.

    The bass player needs a little encouragement to leave his beer empire to ferment on its own so he can take some time to nostalgify the fans.

  • Capt. Willard
    April 20, 2010 - 06:28 | Permalink

    Good news, thanks.

  • Tim Abdellah
    April 13, 2011 - 23:13 | Permalink

    Posted on the Balancing Act's Facebook page last week: "97.4% certain. The Balancing Act reunite for one show Friday, June 3, 2011. Rhino Records pop up store. Stand by for further details."

  • W
    April 13, 2011 - 23:25 | Permalink


  • June 5, 2011 - 20:28 | Permalink

    Video from the reunion gig is now up on YouTube:

    Glad to see you up and running!

    • Willard
      June 6, 2011 - 09:28 | Permalink

      Great video, thanks Tim.

  • Colin H from Cambridge, Canada
    November 1, 2011 - 17:50 | Permalink

    This is a band I totally missed at the time so it’s a huge find for me, precisely up my alley. Thanks so much!

  • Colin H from Cambridge, Canada
    November 1, 2011 - 17:52 | Permalink

    they MUST convince that bassist, he is seriously rocking me!

    • Willard
      November 1, 2011 - 18:13 | Permalink

      Glad you’re diggin’ it. For me, they’ve been an under-the-radar fave since the 80s.

  • November 3, 2011 - 10:11 | Permalink

    Ok, never heard of these guys at all. but, based on your comments, it certainly sounds like something I would be interested, and worth checking out. And that’s what I love about this site, finding and posting stuff like this. Much thanks for making this available to more people.

    • Willard
      November 3, 2011 - 12:49 | Permalink

      That’s what’s great about all blogs. Thanks BBK.

  • Sean
    November 4, 2011 - 12:45 | Permalink

    My new favorite band! Thanks.

    You know, I miss many parts of the old music business (hits, MTV, a vital rock press) but The Balancing Act was missed during that era.

    The era of blogs and downloading is “the good old days”. This is a music lovers paradise. The Balancing Act…endless Prince concerts…all the Beatles’ session for A Hard Day’s Night? Wow.

    • Willard
      November 4, 2011 - 13:58 | Permalink

      They are good, aren’t they? Without question… these are the days. Minimal obstruction, free access to practically everything. Future historians will look back on these days (before newer technology figures out how to stop it all) and wonder why so many people kept bitching in forums. We’ve got it made.

  • Ace K
    June 12, 2012 - 21:39 | Permalink

    Did I miss this the first time around? I sure hope so, because if I did check it out before, it did not leave an impression, and right now I am waiting for my cheapo download to finish.

    Assuming (as the many favorable comments above suggest) that I will be very much enjoy this, may I go into full pig mode and ask/beg whether the other collections formerly posted here will be re-upped by some kind soul.

    Ace K

  • Michael Hockinson
    June 18, 2012 - 12:45 | Permalink

    Thanks, Willard. Reminds me a lot of Crowded House.

  • Sean
    October 23, 2013 - 19:46 | Permalink

    God, I love this record.

  • Joel
    September 17, 2014 - 01:24 | Permalink

    I found this CD in a cutout bin at Record Theatre in Buffalo NY around 1991. I have no idea what possessed me to buy it, but once I heard it, I was smitten. Maybe it was the fact that there was a (I assumed) cover of “Can You Get to That?”, or that “Red Pants and Romance” was just too good a title NOT to be heard. Regardless, a magnificent recording! I am better for having found it.

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