John Howard made an obscure British singer/songwriter album in the mid-'70s, Kid in a Big World which, like several efforts from that period, showed the heavy influence of then-newly emergent superstar Elton John. Howard was lower-key and more inclined toward eccentric story-songs, and not as gifted with a flair for chart hooks, though he too had a keyboard base to his arrangements, with melodic ideas combining Beatles-Beach Boys pop with '70s singer/songwriter.
Howard first tried to enter the record business in the late '60s, when the classically trained pianist unsuccessfully sent in a tape of his songs to Apple Records for consideration. Changing his name from Howard Jones (though he was no relation to the '80s pop star Howard Jones) to John Howard, he actually turned down the chance to join a band that later become Iron Maiden. Instead, he worked on the college circuit and folk clubs, and got a management contract with Hurricane Smith's manager, Stuart Reid. He signed to CBS UK in late 1973, and recorded Kid in a Big World with ex-Shadows drummer Tony Meehan as producer and Argent's Bob Henrit and Rod Argent among the sessionmen. Preceded by the late-1974 release of the "Goodbye Suzie" single, Kid in a Big World was released in February 1975, although it suffered from indifferent promotion and didn't make much of an impact. Although a second album was started, it never reached completion, in part because of intervention from CBS to try making it more commercial. The RPM label finally released the demos for that album in 2004 as Technicolour Biography. A year later, RPM issued another collection of demos, Can You Hear Me OK?, while the Bad Pressings label issued The Dangerous Hours, the first new album he had recorded in three decades. The wait would be much shorter for the next new album -- As I Was Saying appeared before the end of 2005 on Cherry Red.
Howard was very busy during the next five years, releasing Same Bed, Different Dreams in 2006, Barefoot with Angels one year later, and Navigate Home in 2009. An archival release of Navigate Home demos followed in 2011, and Exhibiting Tendencies appeared the same year. In 2012, Howard revisited some of his '70s demos with fully dressed recordings, aptly titling the release You Shall Go to the Ball!. Further digital albums followed over the next few years, highlighted by the 2015 album John Howard & the Night Mail, which found him paired with a full-fledged band for the first time in years. ~ Richie Unterberger