Eddie Money

Eddie Money

Wolfgang Records, 1977

http://www.eddiemoney.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/16/2019

Hooks and heart—that’s what Eddie Money was all about.

The man born Eddie Mahoney, the ex-cop from an Irish Catholic family of them, the unlikely Brooklyn-to-Berkeley transplant who battled his way up from the clubs and avoided one-hit-wonderdom to build a lasting career in music, passed away last week, far too soon at just 70. And when I discovered a giant hole in the Daily Vault archives where this review should be, I knew I had to fill it.

Like any respectable ’70s bar-band rock and roller, Eddie Money took major inspiration from both British Invasion guitar groups and Motown soul and r&b icons like Smokey Robinson. The big advantage he enjoyed on this memorable debut is a band that could drive hard in both of those gears, led by ace guitar-slinger and musical foil Jimmy Lyon. (Bill Graham, who discovered and for many years managed Money, is credited with pairing him with Lyon, who co-wrote half the tracks found here.)

The first thing you hear on this album is the simultaneously snaking and keening guitar hook that opens “Two Tickets To Paradise,” immediately ensuring its status as Money’s signature song. The lyric might not be Shakespeare, but the longing feels genuine and the performance ripples with an energy that might have carried it higher than the #22 it achieved on the singles charts (regardless, the song had legs… 40 years later it’s still a staple of Classic Rock radio).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The next track is where you understand not just the roots of Money’s sound, but the sheer cojones the born-and-bred New Yorker possessed. A sandy-throated Irish mug from Brooklyn covering the Smokey Robinson classic “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”? How many different ways could that go wrong? Except it doesn’t—to the contrary, it forces Money to strip away all bluster and croon for his life, delivering a performance that’s genuinely vulnerable and full of longing, and in the process turning his voice’s rough edges into an asset.

Notable moments the rest of the way include the earnest, giddy rave-up “Wanna Be A Rock’n’Roll Star,” the urgent, pleading ballad “Save A Little Room In Your Heart For Me,” the dark, sax-heavy blues “Don’t Worry,” and closing full-tilt rocker “Gamblin’ Man.” Not to mention the other big single from this album, the electrified r&b number “Baby Hold On,” a rippling, handclap-heavy, undeniably catchy plea that reached #11.

A personal favorite is the amped-up shuffle “So Good To Be In Love Again,” featuring one of Money’s more philosophical lyrics: “When I was young supposedly free / I sat around the house of life lonely / I closed my eyes, I couldn't see / Filled my head with make believe / I was fooled by a pretty face / 'Til you came along and took her place / And I love you baby.” Simple, sincere, and vulnerable, Money personifies the regular Joe rescued by love, the song building steadily to an explosive release at Lyon’s closing solo.

For this, Money’s most consistent and appealing release, producer Bruce Botnick kept things tight and punchy throughout without losing the grit that made Money’s voice and persona memorable. That and a superb backing band of Lyon, Tom Scott on sax, Alan Pasqua on keys, and the former Steve Miller Band rhythm section of Lonnie Turner (bass) and Garry Mallaber (drums) ensured that this smash debut would meet every goal you imagine Money might have set for it, catapulting him into a lengthy career as a blue-collar rocker with a flair for memorable, hooky singles and ballads brimming with heart. Good on you, Eddie. R.I.P.

Rating: B+

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