Above the Blue - Vegas With Randolph
Fans of Power Pop music should check out the Alexandria, Virginia band Vegas With Randolph and their current album Above The Blue. The thing that struck us about this book of eighteen songs is that they energize the listener, the themes are earthy and easy to relate to and for the most part they are very upbeat. The song that opens the album “The Better Part,” lavishes praise on the woman who is “one of a million…a full moon at midnight….and I know, you’re everywhere that I go / the sunlight through my window,” and sets the stage for what pretty well is an album of relationship songs.
The songwriting duo of John Ratts (electric and acoustic guitars) and Eric Kern (keyboards, guitar on two songs) who are the band’s two singers crank up the volume with the fast paced hard hitting song like “Some Time To Live.” The song opens with loud, slashing guitar riffs, booming drumbeats leading us into staccato, frenzied vocal imagery of a guy getting up at six-thirty in the morning to beat the rush hour traffic on his way to work. He is burning the candle at both ends and working late into the evening. Verse two focuses on his wife / girlfriend who is barely keeping her head above water with all of the demands on her life as well and how easy it is to identify with, “And the air conditioning’s busted / So the baby’s always crying…” The recurring theme is that of the individuals portrayed in the song just wanting time to live.
John Ratts does a good job of teasing the listener with “Supergirl.” Is this the elusive woman in the car that keeps pulling up beside him, like George Lucas’ blonde (Suzanne Somers) in the 1956 Ford Thunderbird from the film American Graffiti or are the songwriters using imagery again to talk about a “special relationship.”
In our humble opinion one of the best songs on the album is the duet “Lesser Fool,” that Eric Kern performs with another superb singer and songwriter, Liverpool, England’s Maxi Dunn. This is a guy song, coming to your senses too late, as you watch your former love with a guy that truly appreciates the woman he has in his life and you know he is the lesser fool. It is about wishing for a second chance, realizing it is not going to happen, but without malice and with good will wishing the best for the girl you let get away.
We are conflicted over the song “She Does It For Me,” while we like it musically, we found it wanting somewhat lyrically, especially when compared to some of the other songs that are on the first half of this solid record. The use of a nuclear bomb as an analogy for the impact of love, just does not work for us.
Of the songs on the mellower second-half of Above The Blue, we really like “Light Of Day,” and the reprise for “Above The Blue.” Guest musician, cellist Fred Lieder is great and Wim Oudijk’s orchestration on many of the tunes on this album is beautiful.
The other members of Vegas With Randolph are, Dan Aylestock (the father) is on electric bass, Dave “Jurasic” Purol is on guitars, Brock Harris on guitars and Danny Aylestock on drums.
Overall, Above The Blue From Vegas With Randolph is a solid album, but that comes with a caveat. You have to be a diehard Power Pop music fan or this record will wear you out in a hurry, because the first half of the album, with only a few exceptions, is very, very fast paced and the guitar riffs, true to Power Pop form at times slash across the vocals and at other times thunder, while the drumbeats are for the most part heavy.
You can listen to the music of
Vegas With Randolph here
You can listen to the music of Vegas With Randolph here
Reviewed by Joe Montague
Reviewed by Joe Montague
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