WILLIE ALEXANDER & THE BOOM BOOM BAND Pass The Tabasko CD 1996
You 've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' / Rock 'n' Roll '78 / Everybody Knows / Look At Me* / Radio Heart / You Beat Me To It / Hair / Looking Like A Bimbo / Home Is / Kerouac / Mass. Av. / Modern Lovers / You Looked So Pretty When / Pass The Tabasco / Melinda / Hitchhicking / R. A. Baby / Sky Queen / Bring Your Friend / For Old Times Sake.
Produced By Craig Leon.
Willie Alexander And The Boom Boom Band: Willie Alexander: vocals, keyboards / Billy Loosigian: guitar / Severin Grossman: bass / David McLean: drums + Dick Ellis: saxophone*.
"By 1975, Willie Alexander was leading a new band. But where another 1960s guy might have given us some ballads with overblown accompaniments or warmed-over rhythm and blues, W.A. put out a fresh little single containing what may very well be his two most popular songs. "Kerouac," the featured side, is about the man whose writing taught Alexander his strong sense of place. "Mass. Ave." was more like the Declaration of Independence of Boston's glorious punk revolution. Butterfly on his right shoulder, how could Willie be bolder, on Mass. Ave. Willie Alexander's cuts on "Live at the Rat" (2 LPs, Rat, 1976) were easily among the best performances on that album. And by the late 1970s, he was recording for a major label once again. His group, the Boom Boom Band, had an ace guitarist in the person of Billy Loosigian. Rolling Stone called Loosigian a real find. The two albums that came out of this period were quite controversial. Fred Schruers, in the February 23, 1978, issue of Rolling Stone, gave a flattering review to "Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band" (LP, MCA, 1978). But Dave Marsh, in the Rolling Stone Record Guide, gave it only one star out of a possible five. Two critics, same company. Go figure. M. Howell, in the December 1, 1981, issue of the Boston Phoenix, found some middle ground by merely commenting that the MCA albums didn't catch Alexander's eccentric energy. The first of these records didn't particularly sound like the Willie Alexander his fans knew from his live shows; but it had its moments--especially the decidedly-alternate arrangement of "Everybody Knows," from the Bagatelle days, and "Looking Like a Bimbo." Village Voice critic Robert Christgau confessed, in his guidebook to rock albums of the 1970s, that he had been no fan of Alexander but that he grew fond of this record anyway. Those who didn't like "Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band" seem to have had a hard time listening very perceptively to the second album, "Meanwhile ... Back in the States" (LP, MCA, 1978). Dave Marsh also assigned that record a single-star rating. But it is quite a different story from its predecessor. Tom Carson, in the December 14, 1978, issue of Rolling Stone, gave "Meanwhile" a mixed review. He called Alexander's arrangements dense and intriguing and declared that this album is better than the first. But Carson criticized the lyrics as long on quirkiness and short on substance. Well, sometimes we do call this singer Willie "Loco" Alexander; so, peculiar lyrics might be expected. And many of his songs really are quite simple, both lyrically and melodically. This type of songwriting, though, is something Alexander does very well. Call him a rock minimalist. "Meanwhile ... Back in the States" has a few things going for it. One of them is the band. Any album featuring Billy Loosigian has one thing to like, right from the start. The record includes two of Willie Alexander's best-known numbers--"You Looked So Pretty When" and a reinterpretation of "Mass. Ave." For my own part, I also like the song, "Modern Lovers." Extract from the "Dog Bar Yatch Club" album notes.
Boston scene patriarch and would-be Beat Generation holdout Alexander is an intriguing and unique historical figure, the eternal ghost of the Rat who has raved and played through more musical eras than most musicians have even survived. The irrepressible singer/pianist's redoubtable résumé goes back to the '60s and includes such groups as the Lost, Bagatelle, Bluesberry Jam, Grass Menagerie — even a stint in the post-Lou Reed Velvet Underground. If he was never really a punk (despite such conceptually righteous songs as 1976's "Hit Her wid de Axe"), Alexander's intelligence and commitment to rock'n'roll purity (minus the eternal adolescence) made him a part of the punks' underworld; maturity and boundless enthusiasm for writing and performing music has always sustained him.
Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band is dedicated to Jack Kerouac, and includes Alexander's tributary song about the author, which was a cult hit when it first appeared on a 1975 independent single. The song's a heartfelt standout; the rest of the record is routine bar-band rubbish, wanting for both songs and style. Meanwhile follows the same path, but is notably better, thanks to Alexander's looser singing. For him, sloppiness is definitely an asset. Trouser Press
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