Last night's Toys for Tots concert at the Capital Centre went on for four hours and seven acts. All the musical excitement, though, occured in the first forty minutes. Tex Rubinowitz & The Bad Boys led off with nine numbers of ranting, raving rockabilly. Rocky Burnette then joined them to give the evening its climax just as the show was beginning.
Rubinowitz usually plays in Washington bars, but he was more than equal to the arena's vast size. Dressed like greasers, cavorting like wild men and playing with utter conviction, he and his band filled the whole hall with "Don't Touch Me, Baby, I'm Shakin' Too Much." Burnette's hit, "Tired of Toein' the Line," sounded better on stage with the Bad Boys than it does on record with the studio musicians.
"We're going way back," Burnette shouted, "to the origins, to neanderthal rock 'n' roll." He then sang two cult classics that his father, Johnny Burnette, recorded in 1956. The son captured the primitive, instinctual excitement that has sparked the best rock since his father's day. All the music that followed last night sounded contrived and watered down by comparison.
Dr. Hook's bawdy clowning on stage couldn't disguise the fact that their music was the tamest of country-pop. The highlight of Andy Gibb's set was his appearance in tight jeans and bare chest to the crowd's squeals. His subsequent singing was a mere distraction.
Robbie Dupree sang his hit, "Steal Away," a diluted version of the recent Doobie Brothers formula, itself a diluted rock form. Dupree, in his first live performance in two years, was backed by Orleans. Orleans, which lost its only asset when John Hall left, did a tepid version of Hall's "Still the One."
Washington's teen-age prodigy, Stacey Lattislaw, showed off her spectacular voice. Unfortunately, she was stuck with a mediorce funk band and absolute fluff for songs.