The Del-Lords: Based on a True Story

DelLords_BasedOnATrueStoryDel-Lords’ third LP finds balance between muscle and polish

The third album from Scott Kempner’s post-Dictators rock ‘n’ roll band retained Neil Geraldo as producer, but dispensed with a good deal of the ‘80s production touches he’d brought to the group’s previous album, Johnny Comes Marching Home. The sound is more balanced here, with backing vocals that aren’t over-processed and drums that punch hard without being slathered in studio gloss. The synergy the band developed amongst themselves in early rehearsals and weekly live gigs was now synched with a producer who could capture their muscular sound on tape, and the results are superb.

Kempner launches the album with the hyperkinetic vocal of “Crawl in Bed,” propelled by wicked, nearly confrontational rhythm guitar riffs and stinging electric leads, and anchored by punchy bass and drums. Guitarist Eric Ambel sings two leads, the wide swinging blues “A Lover’s Prayer” and the rolling pop-rock “Judas Kiss,” and college radio favorite Mojo Nixon provides a fire-and-brimstone introduction for “River of Justice.” Pat Benetar, Syd Straw and Kim Shattuck add backing vocals on several tracks, and the band stretches out a couple of tunes with excellent instrumental interplay, including the hypnotic “Poem of the River” and garage-psych “The Cool and the Crazy.”

As on the band’s first two albums, Kempner mixes up songs of mind and body, finding external inspiration in the philosophy of Woody Guthrie, the poetry of Allen Ginsburg, and news reports of Reagan’s crumbling America; but he also looks inward and discovers dreams of pastoral escape, torn romances, and even a bit of free-form Friday night raving. American Beat’s CD reissue adds new liner note from Kemper and five bonus tracks that include alternate takes of “Lover’s Prayer” and “Cheyenne,” and a pair of lead vocals from bassist Manny Caiati that didn’t make the original LP. With album number three the band finally got their rock ‘n’ roll dream on tape. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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