T.W.O. (1972)


1. Let Me Ride 2. How the Story Goes 3. Little Queenie 4. Being Kind (Can Hurt Someone) 5. Music Man 6. Like You Do 7. Flash Tan Queen 8. Golden Country


 

After almost no one bought the band's first record, lead singer Terry Luttrell departed. When the band tried to find a new singer through a "musician's referral service", it was soon discovered that the "service" was actually a scheme set up by a singer-songwriter named Kevin Cronin that needed a job. Well, the ruse worked and Cronin was now fronting the band. In many ways this record is an improvement, yet like all "changes", they've taken a step backwards in some areas as well. This is normal, and it's a shame that Cronin would get the boot after this record was done since they really didn't have time to capitalize, as a group, on all the things they were learning.

Neal Doughty is allowed to show off a lot more, and guitarist Gary Richrath has a stellar outing as well. His screeching, wailing guitar is all over the place, and he's placing a stamp on this band as being what would soon evolve as the leader of this band (at least in their early history). Cronin handling vocals was not as radical as a shift as one might think, if one is only familiar with the later, polished-up semi-reverbed sound that the band made popular so many years later. It's definitely him at the vocals, but his voice doesn't offer that much of a change from their first record in terms of influencing the direction of the music.

The direction, in many ways is the same. This is some good, hard-rockin' break-down boogie music as evidenced by the opener Let Me Ride. Actually, the song starts off normal enough, but then builds into a great crescendo. The same could be said for the best song on here, Golden Country. Had this formula been somewhat present on all songs, it would have resonated a bit stronger. It doesn't work quite as well on Like You Do, but the style is definitely there, and it ranks as one of the strong points here.

Then there are too many times when they just seem to get bogged down. Being Kind (Can Hurt Someone) is pretty darn dull, and it was apparent that the touchy-feely love songs that this band made famous many years later were still not a strength, and they should probably do everything they could to distance themselves from such endeavors. Even the Chuck Berry cover of Little Queenie sounds a bit of a thud. It doesn't help when bands take classic early rock songs like this and drudge them on to more than six and a half minutes.

Like their first album, there's one song here that has "survived" that still shows up at many of their shows, that would be Kevin Cronin's Music Man. I think it's an o.k. piece, but I think it's a tad overrated, and not even one of the strongest things here. The record didn't sell well either, so Cronin would soon be gone, and the band would regress quite significantly, not to really make any substantial contributions until years later when they would realize their mistake, and get him back in the band.



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