Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs - Gainesville

To this day, I still listen to CD's more than any other format - I can listen at work (unlike vinyl) as well in my car and I have access to nearly all of my music this way, as I don't have everything online. Anyway, I, naturally, randomly go through my thousands of CD's and once in a while I notice something that I haven't heard for ages for one reason or another. This album, the Cheetahs final studio hurrah before breaking up, is one of those. These cats were - and are - good friends of mine, I have played in the band for live shows and some recordings and my wife Melanie appears on this record on several songs. So, be forewarned, I can be prejudiced. In any case, I think this is probably their best work - it has plenty of their over-the-top high-energy power, but balances it with Beatles-esque pop along with plain ol' rock'n'roll. Here founding members Frank Meyer and Art Jackson are joined by Eric Hermann (drummer extraordinaire) and bassist John Ramirez (Tony Fate also plays bass on some tunes), among others, for a fine, freaked-out farewell.

Opening with the comparatively mellow, Mellatron-led "Good Morning" (highly Beatles-like, in a "Strawberry Fields" kinda way), they then blast into the furious punk rock of "Strangled By Love" followed by one of my faves, the somewhat Who-like (dig those drums!) catchy hard rock of "When God and the Devil Agree" (love the lyrics!). In "Geek Like Me" they provide some potent pop (fantastic harmonies from Melanie!) while "Ward 6" is a fairly harrowing power ballad (in a good way). There's more frantic-ness in "Destination Zero", some 70's hard rock cliches (purposefully) in "Rock & Roll Fade Away", a bit of Cheap Trick thievery in "December in a Day" and some drone-y rock with wild riffery in "Come to Mind".

Back to the fast'n'frenzied 3 chords for "Born Leader", then a slow, 70's-styled ballad of madness in "Crucified", some spooky, mid-tempo'd rock of "One in the Chamber", a hint of country-pop in "On My Way" (C&W guitar licks courtesy of Tony Fate), slightly funky hard rock in "Preach", fast punk mixed with dopey, rock cliches lyrics (again, on purpose) in "Larger Than Life" (with some nicely psychotic slide guitar work) before closing with the big 70's rock anthem (with great overlapping vocals) "Kiss Me Twice Tonight" that fades into a cool, Robin Trower-like ending.

Throughout the record, Frank is in great voice - ranging from throat-wrenchin' screams to pure melody - and plays some stellar lead guitar, while the rest of the band's backing is strong'n'tight'n'powerful. The song-writing is some of their strongest, even as they parody'n'steal sorta in the manner of Turbonegro, and the production is terrific. Definitely one of their best!