Gasoline Lollipops – All The Misery Money Can Buy
I’ve listened to this 11-cut LP 3 times & while the musicians are proficient & singer Clay Rose has a strong distinctive vocal — remarkably similar to Big Back 40 (“Blood”) & C. Gibbs Band (“Medicine Bag,” “Drag The Ashes”) — the band can play, perform & the singer has presence & power. The only criticism is a basic one: they’re not quite there yet with original songs.
What is engaging is the final cut and nothing else approaches this expressive public domain tune “Sinnerman.”
While the CD starts with the title song & has a dynamic to its arrangement – it’s nothing new. Well-sung & played. It suffers from pedestrian lyrics. What gives the song lift are the genuinely soulful backup singers: Charlene Howard & Sharon Lawrence. Guitarist Don Ambory lays down warm blues-inflected notes, drummer Kevin Matthews is sharp on the skins, Scott Coulter’s Hammond thickens it up & the Bradley Morse bass is solid.
Throughout — Clay Rose is consistently a good singer. It’s the material that doesn’t support the possibilities until that last track.
“Dying Young,” plods along; “Train to Hide,” might have worked if Waylon Jennings sang it & “Lady Liberty” is standard country dipped in R&R. But the dark vocal gives the necessary spark.
“Get Up!” is an energetic generic soulful-funk rocker with a Southside Johnny-Archie Drell & the Drells funk groove. Not exactly 2020 music but it has verve & it’s uh, danceable.
The LP All The Misery Money Can Buy (Drops Sept 11 – Soundly Music) includes two well-written Clay Rose songs with fine lyrics: “Nights Are Short,” & “Bound for Glory.” Nothing earth-shaking but it’s performed with spirit.
“Flesh & Bone,” is sung excellently, but it’s another assembly-line country-Americana song. This could’ve been “designed” to be a single as exciting as early Steppenwolf songs (“Magic Carpet Ride,” “Rock Me”). Yes, those songs aren’t Americana but they each were hits because they had that intense creative arrangement & instrumentally memorable.
“Gypsy” is lovely. Clay conjures his finest Waylon tone. Retro sounding, lyrically simplistic, a few clichés but the showcase is authentic. Then, the 7-minute beauty of “Sinnerman.” Rose reaches for & grabs a near-perfect Tom Waits vocal rage. Wonderful. The musicians are driven harder & more exhilarating when they’re not playing an original. Bright piano over a spooky guitar, deep-rooted melodic bass, steady hi-hat, excellent drums — this final track is superb. It’s inspired.
It’s where they should be.
No complaints. Just focus on & tighten the songwriting. Create some compelling stories & melodies. You’ll be fine.
The 43-minute CD with lyric insert: Produced by Gasoline Lollipops & Justin Tocket in Louisiana. Available at https://gasolinelollipops.com/