The Fabulous Poodles: Mirror Stars / Think Pink

FabulousPoodles_MirrorStarsThinkPinkLate-70s lost rock ‘n’ roll classic

Amid the anarchy of punk rock and the forced quirkiness of new wave a few genuine rock ‘n’ roll bands managed to slip through the cracks. In the UK these bands often derived from the pre-punk pub rock scene, either directly as in the case of Rockpile, or on the tail end as in the case of the Fabulous Poodles. Their flamboyant stage act gave them a jokey veneer, but their records (particularly the debut produced by John Entwistle) were filled with superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that combined the melody and drama of Brill Building pop with modern touches and welcome helpings of Bobby Valentino’s violin and mandolin.

Vocalist/songwriter Tony De Meur had a flair for dramatizing and adding a touch of humor to stories that feel as if they were drawn from real life, not unlike Ray Davies. He sings as a lonely teenager who grows up to find revenge in stardom, a twenty-something allergic to work, a seductive singing idol, and an overworked and undersexed porn photographer (“they never seem to want to know / a seedy flashgun gigolo”). He celebrates the magic of B-movies, the joy of a perfect haircut (a Chicago Boxcar with a Boston Back – think D-Day in the film Animal House), a bionic dream and a satiric ‘50s styled rock ‘n’ roll ode to anorexia.

In addition to nineteen group-written tunes, the Poodles cover Mel McDaniel’s obscure country blues “Roll Your Own” and the Everly Brothers’ “Man With Money.” American Beat’s two-fer pairs the Poodles first U.S. release, Mirror Stars, which cherry-picks from the group’s first two UK albums, with their third and final release, Think Pink. The latter is more pedestrian and forced, particularly in comparison to the former, but Mirror Stars is easily worth the price of this two-fer CD. This is a bare-bones reissue with a four-panel booklet that lists song titles, writers and running times, but offers no liner notes. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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