Independent release, 2004


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Leif Garrett can't buy a break. People still think of him either as the teen pop sensation he was made out to be in the late '70s with "I Was Made For Dancin'," or they see him as a washed-up has-been whose battles with addiction created such a grand soap opera that is now known as VH-1's "Behind The Music".

People will refuse to listen to anything that Garrett does in his musical career with an open mind and unbiased ears. To them, I have this simple message: Your loss, chumps. After listening to the self-titled debut EP from F8, Garrett's latest project, there's no doubt in my mind that Garrett has finally found the place he should be musically - and if these five songs (clocking in at just under 20 minutes) are any indication, F8 is only going to get better.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Here's a fun party game to play: put this disc on when you have friends over, but don't tell them who is singing. The first time I heard this disc, I couldn't believe how much Garrett sounded like a young Joe Cocker - and I am not putting down Garrett's work. All of the pain and hell that he has been through is manifested in his vocals on F8, and the end result is surprisingly excellent. Listen to his vocals on a song like "Clear," or backed with only an acoustic guitar and a simple bass line on "Alive (Today)" and try to convince me that Garrett isn't worth a second listen. Fact is, you'll want a second listen - and a third, and a fourth.

Granted, things build a little slow on "Symptoms," but the early butterflies the band - Garrett, guitarist Joe Gaines, bassist Darrell "D" Arnold and drummer Chuck Billings - may have had are quickly washed away on songs like "Still I Wish" and "Clear". The live take on "Just Like Me" is a powerful (and appropriate) way for F8 to close out this disc.

Yet there is room for growth, particularly in the rhythm and harmony sections of F8. No disrespect is meant towards Garrett or Gaines, but I personally would have liked to have heard a second rhythm guitarist, especially when Gaines breaks off to guitar solo land. And maybe it's the inner pop child in me, but I'm a sucker for well-performed harmony vocals; I'd have liked to heard some on this disc. (Oh, yeah, let's not forget my standard EP complaint - especially in F8's case, I would have loved for this disc to have been longer than five songs. The talent is there, people, let there be no doubt.)

For Garrett, I sincerely hope that people put aside any preconceived notion they have of him (as a musician or as a human being) and just listen to what F8 has to offer. I would not be surprised if, in a year's time, I am reviewing the full-length major label debut of F8 on "The Daily Vault". All Garrett and crew need is a chance and the right people to believe in this band - and F8 proves they're more than worthy on both counts.

For more information, please visit F8's Web site.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 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 Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.