Go Slow Down

BoDeans

Slash / Reprise Records, 1993

http://www.bodeans.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/05/1997

If any band was rescued from obscurity by chance, it was the BoDeans. With the selection of their song "Closer To Free" to be the theme to Fox's Party Of Five, Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas leapt from being the darlings of alternative radio to actual recognition by mainstream radio. They may not have had superstar status, but it was a start.

The album that spawned "Closer To Free," Go Slow Down, features some of this band's finest moments -- as well as some of their weakest.

To describe the BoDeans sound is a lot like trying to tell a small child why the sky is blue. The best answer I can come up with is they're a mixture of rock and country, with just a hint of Tex-Mex thrown in for flavor. They defy true categorization, because they do have a sound which is unique -- and this may be why mainstream radio was afraid to touch their music for so long.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Closer To Free" is a great song, but it is hardly the best material on the album. In fact, the whole first side of the album contains some of their strongest songwriting. "Save A Little" is a rolling mixture of wah-wah and skiffle which makes you want to get up and dance a bit. When the liner notes to "In Trow" claim that this song may be the best thing they've ever recorded, they're not kidding. It reminds me a lot of Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again," and I wish this one was longer than the 54 seconds that it is. Even the shuffle of the title track, which is slower than I would have liked it to be, is infectiously wonderful. Neumann and Llanas seem like they can do no wrong.

The second side weakens quite a bit. Sure, "Cold Winter's Day" is a haunting track which seems to be based on a true story. But others get a little preachy. "The Other Side," a song about suicide, fails to take off - and it does seem to be pro-suicide, a subject which I am a little touchy about. The themes of the other songs -- one's sex drive ("Feed The Fire"), loneliness ("Something's Telling Me") and the music business ("Stay On") all just don't have the creative spark that made the first half of Go Slow Down such a wonderful album.

The only other thing that may distract listeners of the album is the fact that the BoDeans are an acquired taste. Having been a listener since their 1989 album Home, I am quite used to the quirkiness of the band. (I would disagree with CDNow, who claim the Beat Farmers -- who were a mixture of rock and comedy - are a similar artist in style.) Albums like Go Slow Down are not easily digested in one listen -- it takes a couple spins in the tape deck before the strengths and weaknesses can be clearly heard.

Producer T-Bone Burnett, who did such a great job on Counting Crows' debut, does seem like he's captured the essence of Neumann and Llanas quite well, and shows how talented a producer he is.

Go Slow Down is a solid half-album, with some songs that prove that this band deserves wider airplay than they have gotten over the years. The other cuts are to be approached at your own risk.

Rating: B-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slash / Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.