Friday, July 25, 2008

Superdrag -- Changin' Tires On The Road To Ruin (Previously unpublished 2007 review)

Superdrag -- Changin’ Tires On The Road To Ruin (Arena Rock)

This is an odd and sods album from the pride of Knoxville, Tennessee, who recently reunited for a concert tour. John Davis and the crew stood out because they found a way to uphold power pop standards (i.e., evoking The Beatles, Big Star, The Raspberries, Cheap Trick, et al.) while having a contemporary rock sound.

Much like Cheap Trick, Superdrag was at its best when it balanced its pop instincts with a darker vibe, best spotlighted on its watershed second album, Headtrip In Every Key. After that album, the band’s subsequent releases were solid, but perhaps a bit too consistent.

This collection could almost be passed off as the band’s fifth album, but for the variance in sound quality on the different tracks. So while this isn’t a great record, there are a number of top shelf tunes, making this the rare demos/outtakes collections that stands up very favorably to the band’s other work. You get a little bit of everything here.

“She Says” is sugar sweet pop, tinged with sadder emotions. “The Rest of the World” is a heartwrenching slow number, with a distinctive lead guitar figure and the great line: “I was cursing my heart for being broken.” There’s lush pop on the languid “Doctors Are Dead”, which has a melody that is distinctively Superdrag.

There are rockers too. From In The Valley Of The Dying Stars, the demo for “Keep It Close to Me” is pretty close to the original. Davis knew what he was doing from the get go. From the same album, there are swell live versions of “Lighting the Way” and “True Believer”. It’s too bad the band couldn’t have added a couple of live tracks from their earlier albums, but that’s about the only complaint I have with the disc.

No comments: