Boom Boom at the House of Blues [CD/DVD]
Pat Travers was already a throwback in 1979, when his breakthrough hit "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" was one of the last gasps of blues-inspired frathouse boogie. He was more of a throwback in 2005, when this set was recorded in Los Angeles, and even more of one now -- but by now it's something to be a little more proud of. Literally from the first note, the disc sounds like something from a simpler and more excessive time: you get an MC asking if you're ready to rock, a fast run of notes for the hell of it, and a crowd-pleasing marijuana reference, all within the first 55 seconds. The long live solos are all here whether they translate well to CD or not, including the bass and drum workouts that stretch two tracks past nine minutes. And just when you think it couldn't get any sillier, they haul out a cover of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" -- which drummer Carmine Appice co-wrote during his tenure with Rod Stewart -- that substitutes a crowd singalong for the keyboard riff, and the feel of a lumbering come-on for Stewart's suave seduction. This disc would have no reason to exist if it wasn't fun -- and thankfully it is. Travers dishes out hyperspeed wah-wah solos like they were going out of style -- which, of course, they are -- with Appice's ever-present double bass drums kicking from the rear (T.M. Stevens does the job of a bass player in a power trio, which is to hold down the bottom and stay out of the way). Appice's zero-subtlety drumming is a plus in this context, and he can also harmonize vocally with Travers, giving this set its only hint of finesse. Appice also mines his back catalog for two of the strongest numbers, "Living Alone" (from the short-lived Beck, Bogert & Appice project) and Howlin' Wolf's "Evil" as arranged in 1971 by Cactus. The latter band's speed-boogie sound is echoed here more than once; the then-new "Better from a Distance" sounds like something Cactus might have recorded three decades earlier. If there's a surprise here, it's that "Boom Boom" is kept to a relatively brief 5:40 -- about the same length and arrangement as the 1979 hit version -- and his other FM-radio staple, "Sportin' Whiskey," is missing. But if you can look past the occasional sober moment -- like "Crash & Burn," an anti-drug song that pulls a timeworn "life/strife" rhyme -- the party spirit here is pretty infectious.