Though "Rave On" is a misnomer for Artful Dodger's new album, at least on '50s tune would have been appropriate here: "Money."
Money might not cure all of what ails this Fairfax-grown band, but it would go a long way toward putting them in their rightful place as pioneers of the '60s renaissance that has brought attention to The Cretones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and others.
The 10 original compositions on this LP, recorded at Bias Studios in Springfield, shimmer with the ringing guitars and rolling rhythms that evoke that era's rock sensibilities. Songwriters Billy Paliselli and Gary Herewig have their feet firmly planted in Beatles-Hollies-Byrds soil, creating songs that seem like carefully transplanted hothouse exotics.
Sometimes it goes a little too far: "She's Just My Baby" is an innocent enough spin-off of Tom Petty's "There Goes My Girl," until it becomes cross-pollinated with his "Don't Do Me Like That," right down to the oh-oh-ohs on the upbeats at the fadeout.
The harmonies richly complement Paliselli's lead vocals. His Rod Stewart-style hoarsness adds a nice layer to the Kinks-style chord structure of "Get in Line," though he seems to carry too much of the vocal weight at times. "Gone Again" has a fine country flavor and some of the best lyrics on the album:
Don't try to walk
You'll just fall down
don't take a drink
You'll probably drown
But you'll lose your head
To a bottle instead
Both "Come Close to Me" and "Now or Never Mind" are accessible, prominent standouts that would make good candidates for airplay. The chords and the lyrics prick the heart -- and the memory -- like needles and pins, and the blend of harmonics is uplifting.
The only wasted effort on "Rave On" is "Forever," a badly planned tune in which Paliselli strains too hard for the melody. But the mistakes made on this record are generally the kind that result from the inability or willingness of the Powers that Be to spend a little extra time and money.
Overall, the album gives strong evidence of the band's collective talents, and it's a sin that Artful Dodger is not promoted, advised and produced with a view toward a broader audience. On the other hand, they're bound to be at least as good in concert as they are on vinyl. The word from here is, support your local musician. CAPTION: Picture, no caption
THE ALBUM -- Artful Dodger's "Rave On," Ariola OL 1503; The SHOW -- Wednesday at 8 at Desperado's.