Before their soundtrack for "Eddie and the Cruisers" found a second life this summer, John Cafferty & Beaver Brown had already recorded their follow-up album, "Tough All Over." With a soundtrack now in the top 10, the follow-up has been shelved until next year, but John Cafferty & Beaver Brown showcased those new songs in their show at the Wax Museum last night.
Cafferty's new compositions showed a greater musical scope and lyrical maturity than the soundtrack and the Beaver Brown band supplied all the versatility and power the songs demanded.
"Dixieland," for example, described the restless migration of Americans, most recently to the Sun Belt, with an optimistic country-gospel sing-along. By contrast, "Tough All Over" was a big-beat anthem that defiantly protested the economic squeeze on working people. "Small Town Girl" was a gorgeous love song full of Beach Boys harmonies. "Voice of America's Sons" was a street-wise celebration of rock 'n' roll, full of hard-edged guitars and a booming backbeat.
Pushed by Kenny Jo Silva's muscular drumming and pulled by Michael Antunes' resonant sax, the band galvanized the standing, waving crowd with the well-known soundtrack tunes and rock classics. But after a dozen years in East Coast bars, Cafferty's Rhode Island sextet is still growing, and the best may be yet to come.