Tuesday, 31 July 2012

He's just a Gigolo... Crazy from the Heat - David Lee Roth (1984)

Bombastic, wild and outspoken, David Lee Roth was also a megastar of the hair metal scene and a darling of the then world- conquering MTV. Having build a solid and loyal fan base with the consistently impressive Van Halen (who had recently released their most successful single 'Jump' and and equally impressive album 1984). However, having achieved all he could with the band he decided to leave in 1985 in the wake of his first solo venture, the screwball and eccentric EP of standards Crazy From the Heat.

Truth be told this is definitely a summer album, however what with the weather becoming somewhat mild, it seemed like a good time to crack out some tunes with a sunny disposition. You cannot help but be won over the joyous and carefree nature of this collection of songs, and Roth personality and idiosyncratic vocals dominate the offering. The opener, 'Easy Street' (written by the late, legendary Dan Hartman) was a minor hit for the J Edgar Winter Group in the mid-70s. Roth add a harder edge with screeching guitars and dirty sax grooves whilst still keeping true to the seedy undertones of the original - you might remember it from the teenage John Cusack's vehicle One Crazy Summer (1986). He follows this with a medley of 'Just a Gigolo / I ain't got nobody' in which he a veritable workout and showcase of his vocal range switching between scat, shrieks and soulful sounds, again a killer saxophone solo in the middle jazzes up the tune and makes this a very danceable number.

It is only an ambitious man who attempts to cover the Beach Boys, some might say arrogant, and whilst this is not nearly as good as the original it is not a bad effort. As with 'Easy Street' Roth gives 'California Girls' a heavy edge which works on the whole without pushing too many boundaries, this is Beach Boys for the MTV generation! The final track on this EP, 'Coconut Grove' adopts a far mellower tone, the ideal number for sitting with a cool dark rum and pineapple by the shores on a quiet beach whilst the tide gently washes over the sand. The song had been originally performed by the loving spoonful, and their version sounds like a half-baked demo, with more sophisticated production techniques Roth makes his version sonically pleasing offering a pleasing aural experience.

All in all, whilst this album breaks no boundaries, it is a great listen and one which should feature on any upcoming summer playlist. It is soaked in the sunshine, much like the feel of the Californian coast which it obviously aims to evoke. It is a pleasing listen yet it is nothing new, that is why I will be giving this particular work a solid 7/10, not the greatest but nevertheless worth the purchase! 

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