THE ALBUM -- 707, "The Second Album," Casablanca (NBLP 7248). THE SHOW -- Opening for REO Speedwagon, Saturday at 8 at the Capital Centre.
Quick! Name the band that made the 1980 hit, "I Could Be Good For You."
If you said 707, you must have the kind of mnemonic faculties that enable people to recite all the state capitals without pausing for air.If your answer was Split Enz or (more likely) the Cars, you've just buttonholed 707's two major problems.
Name recognition is not a new factor of rock success. All the really good names were taken ages ago, and as far back as the late '60s, rock groups had to use increasingly outrageous nomenclature in order to distinguish themselves from the competition. (Dorm conversation, circa 1968: "Nice sounds. Was that Deep Purple or Blue Cheer?" "I thought it was the Strawberry Alarm Clock." "The who?" "Nah, they're the ones that do 'My Generation . . .")
Of course, it the sound is truly unique, recognition comes easy. But if it's at all derivative -- and 707's music is certainly that -- the odds of putting profits in the wrong pocket are great. 707 has obviously sought to avoid the problem by using numerals, an approach which hasn't exactly made 999 a household number, either.
The percentage of Cars albums sold on the strength of "I Could Be Good For You" is probably directly proportional to the number of times the tune aired shortly after 7 p.m., but let's not blame it all on time and title. That tune made deft, almost idolatrous use of the mechanical syncopation, ringing keyboard chromatics and nervously romantic sentiments which are standard Cars fare.
On 707's second album, "The Second Album" (do these guys crave annonymity or what?), they've chosen a broader spectrum of established artists. There are better facsimiles here of Aerosmith ("Tonite's Your Nite"), Styx ("Millionaire") and Reo Speedwagon ("City Life") than any of these groups could have provided themselves.
Although the lyrics throughout this album suffer from a general pointlessness, guitarist Kevin Russell, bassist Phil Bryant and drummer Jim McClarty have a wonderful sense of straight-ahead American rock and the technique to play it. Neither cynical in viewpoint nor sloppy in execution, the LP almost takes off by itself.
Let's hope this group will give their next album a name. Let's hope they'll give themselves a name. But mostly let's hope they'll listen to themselves long enough to figure out how good they are, before they make somebody else go platinum.