Pilot was a Scottish pop-rock band that released three albums between 1974 and 1976 on EMI, followed by a 1977 fourth on Arista.

Members: David Paton (vocals, bass, guitar), Stuart Tosh (drums, vocals, 1973-76), William Lyall (keyboards, vocals, 1973-76), Ian Bairnson (guitar, vocals, bass, 1974-78)


Pilot launched from a partnership between bassist–singer David Paton and keyboardist Billy Lyall, who came from a pre-fame lineup (1969–71) of the Scottish pop sensation the Bay City Rollers. Between 1972 and 1974, they demoed material with drummer Stuart Tosh at Edinburgh’s Craighall Studios, where Lyall engineered albums by comedian Billy Connolly (ex-Humblebums) and numerous Celt and military brass bands (Tartan Lads; Midland Band of the Royal Air Force; Rhine Staff Band of the Royal Tank Regiment).

Pilot signed with EMI and recorded their first album with sessionist Ian Bairnson.

7 Jun 1974
A: Just A Smile
B: Don’t Speak Loudly

20 Sep 1974
A: Magic
B: Just Let Me Be

From the Album of the Same Name [aka Pilot]

Pilot released their debut album, From the Album of the Same Name, in October 1974 on EMI. It contains twelve songs co-written by singer–bassist David Paton and keyboardist Billy Lyall, including both sides of their debut summer single (“Just a Smile,” “Don’t Speak Loudly”) and the just-released a-side “Magic.”

1. “Just a Smile” (3:17)
2. “Magic” (3:06)
3. “Lucky for Some” (3:15)
4. “Girl Next Door” (4:03)
5. “Lovely Lady Smile” (3:40)
6. “Sooner or Later” (4:15)
7. “Don’t Speak Loudly” (4:44)
8. “Over the Moon” (3:44)
9. “Never Give Up” (3:56)
10. “High Into the Sky” (3:18)
11. “Auntie Iris” (1:49)
12. “Sky Blue” (5:25)

David Paton – lead vocals, bass
Billy Lyall – keyboards, synthesizers, piano, backing vocals
Stuart Tosh – drums, backing vocals

Additional personnel
Producer Alan Parsons
Ian Bairnson – electric guitar (“Magic” and “High Into the Sky”)
Nick Heath – backing vocals
David Mason – trumpet
Richard Hewson – orchestral arrangements

13. “Pamela” (as Scotch Mist) 3:14
14. “Magic” (original version) 3:06
15. “Just Let Me Be” Paton, Lyall 3:49
16. “Auntie Iris” Paton, Lyall 1:49

17 Jan 1975
A: January
B: Never Give Up

4 Apr 1975
A: Call Me Round
B: Do Me Good

Second Flight

Pilot released their second album, Second Flight, in June 1975 on EMI. It features their huge winter hit “January” and four additional David Patton numbers: “Love Is,” “To You Alone,” “Heard It All Before,” and “You’re My No. 1.” He co-wrote “Call Me Round” and “Bad To Me” with guitarist Ian Bairnson, who co-wrote the instrumental “55º North 3º West” with keyboardist Billy Lyall, who wrote “Do Me Good,” “You’re Devotion,” “Passion Piece,” and the epic “Dear Artist.”

1. “You’re My No. 1” (3:24)
2. “Love Is” (3:17)
3. “Call Me Round” (3:06)
4. “55º North 3º West” (4:25)
5. “To You Alone” (3:14)
6. “Do Me Good” (3:48)
7. “Heard It All Before” (3:20)
8. “Bad To Me” (3:16)
9. “You’re Devotion” (3:47) Backing Vocals – Marilyn
10. “January” (3:36) Arranged by Andrew Powell
11. “Passion Piece” (2:44)
12. “Dear Artist” (4:39) French Horn – Ben

Recorded at Air Studios London during March 1975
Engineer, Producer – Alan Parsons
Engineer – Ben Emrys-Roberts

Arranged By – Pilot
Bass, Guitar [Spanish Guitar], Vocals – David Paton
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Stuart Tosh
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Ian Bairnson
Keyboards, Flute – Billy Lyall

Design [Cover] – Dick Ward
Photography By – Kim Sayer

In the US, EMI released the album in February 1976 as January with different cover art.

5 Sep 1975
A: Just A Smile
B: Are You In Love

Morin Heights

Pilot released their third album, Morin Heights, in July 1976 on EMI. It features four songs by Ian Bairnson (“Hold On,” “Steps,” “The Mover,” “Running Water”) and lavish harmonized numbers by David Paton, including the melodramatic “Too Many Hopes” and the epic conjoined tracks “Trembling” and “Maniac (Come Back),” the last of those co-written by Billy Lyall.

1. “Hold On” (2:43)
2. “Canada” (2:35)
3. “First After Me” (2:05)
4. “Steps” (3:34)
5. “The Mover” (3:12)
6. “Penny In My Pocket” (4:10)
7. “Lies and Lies” (3:05)
8. “Running Water” (3:20)
9. “Trembling” (3:14)
10. “Maniac (Come Back)” (3:22)
11. “Too Many Hopes” (4:11)

Recorded At – Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Québec.
Producer – Roy Thomas Baker
Engineer – Ed Stasium, Gary Lyons, Mike Stone, Nick Blagona

Keyboards – Peter Oxendale
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Ian Bairnson
Vocals, Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – David Paton
Vocals, Drums, Percussion – Stuart Tosh

Photography By – Ed Stasium

Two’s a Crowd

Pilot released their fourth album, Two’s a Crowd, in 1977 on Arista. Ian Bairnson wrote the interior of Side One (“Creeping Round Midnight,” “One Good Reason Why,” “There’s a Place”) and the bookends of Side Two (“Monday Tuesday,” “Big Screen Kill”). David Paton wrote the album’s six remaining songs, including the singles “Get Up and Go” and “Ten Feet Tall.”

Bairnson and Paton both play guitar (electric and acoustic), bass, tambourine, and sundry percussion. Session drummer Henry Spinetti appears on all but four tracks (“Get Up and Go,” “Library Door,” “One Good Reason Why,” “Mr. Do or Die”), which feature Trevor Spencer of the Tarney–Spencer Band. Keyboardist Steve Swindells rounds out the sound on piano, synthesizer, clavinet, harmonium, and glockenspiel.

A1. “Get Up and Go” (3:34)
A2. “Library Door” (3:35)
A3. “Creeping Round Midnight” (2:52)
A4. “One Good Reason Why” (3:37)
A5. “There’s a Place” (3:39)
A6. “The Other Side” (3:55)
B1. “Monday Tuesday” (4:08)
B2. “Ten Feet Tall” (3:22)
B3. “Evil Eye” (3:49)
B4. “Mr. Do or Die” (3:32)
B5. “Big Screen Kill” (4:36)

Recorded At – Abbey Road Studios
Producer, Engineer – Alan Parsons
Engineer – Pat Stapley
Arranged By, Conductor – Andrew Powell

Design Concept – Bob Searles
Art Direction – John Dyer
Photography By – James Wedge, Peter Higgins


  • From the Album of the Same Name [aka Pilot] (1974)
  • Second Flight (1975)
  • Morin Heights (1976)
  • Two’s a Crowd (1977)


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