At this bar I used to work at we had a record player and a crate full of about twenty or so records. There were some more contemporary albums in the crate, The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, Jens Lekman’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, a few Ryan Adam’s offerings and I believe Pearl Jam’s Mirror Ball.
The rest was a mixture of thrift store finds, mostly heavily issued old jazz records, a beat up copy of Blood on the Tracks, The Beach Boys’ Endless Summer, and two copies each of Billy Joel’s Glass Houses and Hall and Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette. But the record that got the most play, mainly because my co-worker loved it so much was Steely Dan’s classic Aja. Man did that record sing. For about a year there was nary a day that I didn’t wake up singing the words to “Peg” while I brewed my mornings coffee.
Pardon this trip back to never never land but I was reminded of it after I listened to the soothing ‘70 sounds of Eight Track Parade’s self-titled debut Eight Track Parade. The opening track “It Won't Last For Long” with its piano-bob beat and bluesy and hard scrabble guitar riffs, set the tone along with its storyline lyrics lamenting and documenting a classic down on his luck in love man surreptitiously finding inspiration in a new woman with the tongue-in- cheek lyricism of “So you can tell that I'm weak and I'm draggin ass / I had another when I knew that I really should pass / I gotta good thing going but, it won't last for long.” The ‘70s self-loathing love song it is to the ripest cliché.
Then we get deeper into the musical aspect of the period with the wicky-wicky wah wah bass and guitar combo salt and peppered with some funky drums and organ on the instrumentally funky “Chicken Wing.” The grooves continue to move onto the Steely Dan-centric slow jam “Move On.” There are robust pop elements here too but the grooves are what really grab you and don’t let go, nor does the funky ’70s funky flow. It’s the jam session of piano and guitar that really makes for a sound to get yourself lost in.
The dark balladry of the seven-minute “Black Sin” which is followed by the ultra-funk wah wah instrumental fun of “Funky Riffs are Forever” help to give Eight Track Parade its shape. Then they hit you with the tear jerking piano ballad “Burn” which to me recalled the sweet shock treatment of the Beatles “Let it Be.” Later the funk parade continues on the finger licking good piano-guitar shuck groove “City of Lights.”
Generally I find when a band tries to revisit a time period they are walking a very thin line. Most times they fall off of this line and end up sounding like a crappy cover band that plays bar shows for drunks and their friends. In my estimation Eight Track Parade has strayed clear of sounding like a cover band from the ’70s and sound more like a band from the ’70s giving that era a little dose of the future, though still remaining true to their roots, whatever that means. Of course I’m kidding.
The ’70s musically and physically was an experiment arguably even more so than the ’60s. Eight Track Parade seems equally that. It takes chances and doesn’t feel weighed down by its lesser contributions, which aren’t failures but failed experiments. Any contemporary band trying to imbibe a style that has already been preserved in an epoch of amber will never be as good as its predecessors, however Eight Track Parade has their shit together and if ever a rich old white man wants to make a Jurassic Park of funk bands he should seriously think of consulting Eight Track Parade before he opens the park to the public.
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