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|Music Explosion||Primary Artist|
|Ronnie Van Zant||Composer|
Posted October 1, 2010
Like so many '60s garage bands, Ohio's Music Explosion had but one song whose catchiness and timing intersected with the whims of the American Top-40. But unlike many other one-hit wonders, the Explosion actually managed to record several other fine singles, as well as an entire album that was fleshed out with more than the usual filler. ¶ The band's rock and soul roots were amply expressed through lead-singer Jamie Lyons, supplemented by both the band's line-up, and on several of the album tracks, polished studio hands. What makes the Music Explosion's music so unique is the intersection of their garage origin with the production talent of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. The combination resulted in music with DIY grit, but manicured to a higher polish than some of the Explosion's Nuggets and Pebbles-memorialized contemporaries. ¶ Kasenetz and Katz ("Super K") would move on to bubblegum glory (notably, The Ohio Express' iconic, "Yummy Yummy Yummy," first offered to the Music Explosion, and whose intro is shared by the Explosion's latter-day single "Yes Sir"), but they clearly polished up their production techniques with the Music Explosion. In particular, many of the album's backing tracks were recorded by studio musicians while the band was on tour. Tracks such as Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell's "We Gotta Go Home" are virtual prototypes for Super K's bubblegum run, and though fluffy fun, aren't nearly as compelling as the harder-edged work. ¶ Leading off the collection is the band's indelible hit single, "Little Bit O' Soul." Having peaked at #2, it's intro riff, repeated throughout the song, is supported by a moving bass line, thrashing drum work and a hook-filled lyric. They add up to the very essence of a top-40 pop hit. Listener's may be a bit disconcerted by the full, balanced stereo production, but a flick of the stereo/mono switch will help recreate your car's dashboard speaker. The song's original A-side, "I See the Light" follows with a top-notch slice of garage soul, fully realized with an emotional tough-but-tender vocal, and subtle guitar and backing vocals. ¶ Elsewhere the band shows off influences of The Who ("Everybody" borrows liberally from "Can't Explain"), The Lovin' Spoonful's jug-band sound ("Good Time Feeling"), and The Rolling Stones (Kasenetz-Katz's "Let Yourself Go," filtering "Tobacco Road" through the Stones impression of The Isley Brothers). The band covered contemporary garage tunes such as The Nightcrawlers' "Little Black Egg" (as well as a lyric rewrite, "One Potato Two," that's nearly as enigmatic) and ? and the Mysterians "96 Tears." ¶ Other Kasenetz-Katz tunes, like "Can't Stop Now" and "(Hey) La, La, La" show off what a great dance sound the band (and its studio hands) could produce. The Stax-like rhythms, horns, fuzz guitars and background vocals provided terrific backing for Lyons' impassioned vocals. If only for the right promotion or adventurous radio programmer, many of these songs could have struck chart gold. The lone original, "Stay By My Side," combines a folky edge with fuzz guitar for a Beau Brummels like sound. ¶ Sundazed's collection adds three B-side instrumentals to the CD world, including Kasenetz-Katz's neo-psychedelic "Road Runner" (with pseudo-Indian noodlings that bring to mind early Red Crayola), and the organ and guitar buzz of "Hearts and Flowers" and "Dazzling." Glenn Barton's liner notes, including interviews with original band members, are superbly detailed and informative, and photos and graphics from the band's archives help flesh out their visual image. Though the charts called them one-hit wonders, The Music Explosion' s catalog is deeper than "Little Bit O' Soul," and this collection is the definitive recitation. ¶ 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.