Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band - Meanwhile...Back in the States

The band and the record company made a terrible mistake in trying to commercialize the Boom Boom band in this, their second album. The production strips the group of the power they showed on their debut and their forays into unworkable genres are almost unlistenable. There are still some strong points, though.

A tribute to Boston was one of Willie’s first solo singles which was well known around town long before this album debuted with “Mass Ave”. As I said, this release does not have the massive guitar tones of the first record, but Severin is still a terrific player and locks in with Alexander to keep this rocker moving.

There are more quiet numbers on this album, such as “Modern Lovers”, which has a good chorus of “I love me and you love you, what else could modern lovers do”. I would expect more from a song named after one of Boston’s best bands, but while light weight, it is still a good song. Another ballad that is incredibly effective is “You Looked So Pretty When”. Romantic as hell and I don’t even mind the strings added to this.

“Pass the Tabasco” had Willie’s most risqué lyrics to date before the record company made him change “gourmet baby, I want to eat you but you give me the hives” to “kiss you”, which still makes some sense, but not quite as clever. This is a cool rocker, regardless of the censorship and we get more great guitar playing. This blends directly into “Melinda”, another upbeat number with the same energetic feel as “Tabasco”.

The oddly named “Hitchhiking” (the title seems to have nothing to do with the lyrics, as best as I can tell) opens with more Alexander naughtiness – “it’s like it’s hard on…me”. This is a propulsive rocker that would have sounded great with the first album’s guitar tone. A good mid-tempo tune is again unusually titled, “R.A. Baby” – this has a good, rockin’ groove.

The failed experiments are “Sky Queen”, a terrible disco number and “Bring Your Friend”, a reggae-influenced disaster. Sad that the record company (presumedly) foisted this stylistic crap on Willie. Even he laughs at the absurdity of this at the end of this song. The album ends with the dirge-like “For Old Times Sake”, which is not very memorable, either, though Severin still shows that he was a force to be reckoned with.

Disappointing after the greatness of the debut, but still not a bad effort.