Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Turn Up That Noise!

By Stephen Grimstead

NOVEMBER 10, 1997: 

The Patrick Dodd Band, Pleasure (Rockingchair)

Simply stated, Patrick Dodd delivers some of the best straight-ahead rock-and-roll vocals you're likely to hear in Memphis or any other locale. Combining the grit and savvy phrasing of Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Paul Rodgers, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dodd and the excellent band assembled on Pleasure navigate a "Feelin' Alright" groove straight out of the early '70s (with a bit of '80s-era Texas-style strut tossed in as a bonus).

No, Pleasure doesn't offer up much in the way of new wrinkles, but I really don't think that matters in this case. In fact, a self-conscious attempt to screw with the formula established by the Dodd Band's predecessors would probably spoil things.

Relatively minor grievances: As often happens in this genre, the lyrics don't measure up to the standard set by the instrumental/melodic side of the project. However, that and the inclusion of the rather sappy "Lift Me Up" (a calm-after-the-storm affair, featuring Dodd's singing and plinked acoustic guitar accompaniment) are just about the only flaws worth mentioning.

Rockingchair Studios crank out good sonics on a fairly regular basis, but this CD is a buttkicker. Produced, engineered, and mixed by studio/label honcho Mark Yoshida (with the band credited as co-producers), Pleasure boasts crisp, in-your-face audio via a no-nonsense handling of the band's efforts. Well done.

This release finds Dodd in mighty fine company, with a tuff guitarist (Blaine Lester) and two former Six Million Dollar Bandsmen on drums and bass (Gerald Law and the very scary Will Lowrimore, respectively). It's hard to imagine a better vehicle for all concerned. -- Stephen Grimstead

Pezz, One Last Look (BYO)

You've got to give Pezz credit for consistency. As the emo-core anchor of the local garage-and-attic punk scene, they know what the kids want: three-chord races wrapped in anger, spilling bile over all and sundry. And for that, their latest -- One Last Look -- has the pedigree, recorded at Los Angeles' West Beach Recorders and released on 7 Seconds' label BYO.

Whether this type of stuff still has legs is anybody's guess, considering the overexposure it's gotten from bands like Green Day and the Offspring. A couple hundred kids reportedly turned out for Pezz's party for this record's release, however, and unless we suddenly start running low on alienated, suburban teenagers...

At any rate, as might be expected, a lot of these songs are difficult to tell apart, perhaps because, as the genre demands, each and every one of them is gunning to be an anthem. Of rebel yells, Pezz has plenty. The "I care so much I just don't care" hook of "Suicide Jockey," for example, is a nice Orange County cheer, and there's lots of talk of victimhood and servitude and brutality that will really get mom's goat if the power chords and testosterone-boiled vocals don't get to her first.

Personally, I like it when Pezz eases off the rage-pedal. "No Deposit, No Return," for instance, is an appropriately muffled and tinny angst-monument that builds to a melodic yet satisfyingly distressed crescendo. Likewise, "The Other One" -- which previously appeared on the band's split-disc with Toronto's 2-Line Filler -- sports a solidly roughed-up jangle, a memorable hook, and a tasteful guitar break...one your mom might even like.

Sorry, kids. You can just fast-forward through that one. -- Jim Hanas

Courtney Pine, Underground (Antilles)

With this disc and its predecessor, 1995's Modern Day Jazz Stories, British saxophonist Courtney Pine mixes elements of hip-hop and R&B in with his solid mainstream chops. His keen ear for current musical trends and his deft skill at incorporating them into the mainstream jazz idiom make this hybrid work well.

"Oneness of Mind" evokes Lee Morgan's brand of soul-jazz, with Pine and trumpeter Nicholas Payton blowing a hot lead harmony. Cyrus Chestnut's Hammond B-3 organ adds more soul-jazz flavor on "Invisible," with a tip of the hat to Jimmy Smith. Other straight-up tunes show a heavy Coltrane influence, as Pine attacks and extrapolates themes with fire and drive. Vocalist Jhelisa adds a soulful R&B touch to Donny Hathaway's "Tryin' Times," and DJ Pogo's turntable and sampling work adds texture throughout the disc.

Most things work well here, with a few exceptions. "Save the Children," with its cloying Hallmark-card lyrics, is too overly sentimental, and DJ Pogo's sampling is grating and abrupt on the introductory number. Outside of these weaknesses, this disc showcases some fine playing by Pine and keyboardist Cyrus Chestnut, with excellent accompaniment from the dependable duo of Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums and bassist Reginald Veal. -- Gene Hyde

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