A brief word on our 7": 'No One Sleeps When I'm Awake' is an interesting, and very polished pop-punk track with a Blondie-like sound, albeit harder edged. The B-side is a live track, and shows that the group has the same chops onstage. I think they'd be a worthy listen. Must do research.
Apparently this is the remainder of Mott The Hoople after the departure of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson! Morgan Fisher, Pete Watts and Dale Griffin remained, adding Ray Major (of Opal Butterfly) and John Fiddler (of Medicine Head). They put together this self-titled debut and a sophomore effort titled Trouble With Women and split up after neither album performed at all. The 1978 self-titled release came into my possession thanks to the bargain basement at Jerry's Records (no, seriously).
What I Liked:
They have energy and fair chops, rock-wise; there are riffs and solos, and it doesn't offend through ineptness, but it settles for competence when it should push for more. John Fiddler has a good voice for hard rock, and it's a shame he didn't seem to go further as a hard rock vocalist. Some songs show flashes of prog rock, but there are still pop hooks in between - sometimes too many in one song though. At best, you could call them generic rock. Best songs: 'One More Chance To Run'; the mostly restrained 'Break This Fool'; debatably, 'Fork Talking Man' and 'Booster'.
What I Didn't Like:
One of their core problems (and I'm not the only one who has said this) is that they couldn't decide whether to be glam rock (after the subgenre's demise), or go all out on the current hard rock sound. Their sound is in the middle; it's half-hearted in both directions, it can't tell what it really wants to be, it's an average instead of a synergy. As such, it's powerful, but not enough; but it's also showy, and still not enough. The songwriting, though not truly terrible has some awkward or lackluster moments. 'Wild In The Streets' is probably the best example of this dichotomy; a solid verse, but a cheesy chorus, and a disco beat beneath it all. The songs 'International Heroes' and 'My Life's In Your Hands' begin to sound overwrought and perhaps a bit hammy, the latter featuring an obnoxious repeating fill near the end of the song. The saddest example is the album closer 'Eat The Rich', a leaden-riffed social commentary that just sounds preachy and trite. It's Neil Young's 'Welfare Mothers' all over again, without Neil's star power.
If I didn't have such a soft spot for anything rock, this would have ended up in front of Dave's for free. But it's not a total washout, and for those who might feel the same way, you might want to see if any of it's on YouTube and see if you like it before tracking it down. In a word, I would call them listenable, but not very interesting.
Now sadly split at the time of this review, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside present a brash but well-crafted slice of solidly 60's-sounding rock and roll and pop. The single 'Party Kids' seems to have done well, and even made it to Pittsburgh's 91.3 WYEP. It's kind of strange, and somewhat sad to me, that they've called it quits. Ford herself has since found a new backing band, although it remains to be seen whether bassist Tyler Tornfelt, guitarist Jeff Munger, and drummer Ford Tennis will continue to perform after the split.
What I Liked:
A bluesy, twangy first single? Everything about their song 'Party Kids' is everything they do right. Ford's sweetly brassy voice has both swagger and sex appeal here; either Ford or Munger is responsible for that meat-hook of a riff and I want to hug them for it; the 'big beat' behind everything ties it all together nicely; and it's a truly classic song in every sense. The group shines when following this formula. Outside of this, Ford's voice, while not perfectly versatile, can do sensitive and soulful; see 'Shivers'. Perfect fluency in rockabilly and over-the-top early R&B seem to be the main draw for the band's fans, and I've always liked Best songs: 'They Told Me'; 'Party Kids'; 'Shivers'; and I'll throw in 'Do Me Right' for the perfect 50's popabilly sound.
What I Didn't Like:
Some of the songwriting and arranging gets a bit schmaltzy; see the faux New Orleans jazz outro on 'Addicted'. A few songs, and a few lines in some songs, can feel rushed and don't give Ford's voice the space it needs to do its thing. 'Rockability' is guilty of this (in addition to having Ford howl and yip at times, which I find off-putting). Album closer 'Roll Around' is a clunky and out-of-place acoustic number that should sound soulful and nostalgic, but it's too much Sallie and not enough everyone else.
I'm behind this album all the way, despite a few shortcomings. If you want a classy and classic sound, I would eagerly recommend The Untamed Beast.