Various Artists: Hot Rod City

Gary Usher and the Challengers tune up some car songs

Though the tracks are credited to the Customs, Quads and Grand Prix, this is apparently the work of the Challengers and legendary writer/producer Gary Usher. The twenty-one tracks (fourteen original and seven bonuses) include workmanlike cover versions of the Four Speeds’ “RPM,” Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” and “Little Queenie,” and the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Shutdown,” and “409.” The originals are laced with the car jargon the genre brought to mass culture, though little of this is as clever as the best that Wilson, Christian and Usher brought to the Top 40. The Everly’s-styled duet on the opening “Candy Apple Buggy” is about the most exciting vocal on an album that’s sung with surprising listlessness; there’s little evidence of the adolescent joy one expects from surf ‘n’ drag music. Collectors might like the cover of Brian Wilson’s “She Rides with Me,” though the Wilson-produced version by Paul Peterson is better and easily found here and here. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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