Back To The Grave
Bad Afro Records, 2006
REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/29/2006
Digging up a dozen tracks that were hidden as either vinyl B-sides, obscure compilation contributions, or songs originally recorded but not finished until recently, the Flaming Sideburns return to Bad Afro Records with an appetizer of things to come. Back To The Grave will whet fans' appetite for the band's new full length record, to be released in October.
Zeroing in on the Detroit rock sound of the late 60s, this Finnish quartet plunders from deep in the annals of this gritty rock n' roll period by extracting lost gems such as "Are You Ready" by Grand Funk Railroad, "Last Time Around" from the Del-Vetts, and "Leave Me Alone" by Lou Reed. The sounds are anchored by the Spanish vocal touch of Eduardo Martinez, who many feel is the backbone of the signature Sideburns sound. When the band tackles the James Gang's "Funk #49," the result becomes a stone-cold hip-shaking boogie and is worth an immediate second spin.
While the band's willingness to rehash the past is enjoyable, the best songs are the originals. "Runnin' On Fumes" has the same aural appeal that the song "Street Survivor" had in luring the Toyota advertising partnership a few years ago. Obviously, we can't count on an extension of this advertising campaign given the song title, but the chorus is equally as captivating.
And as expected, the Sideburns again offer appeal to those who crave versatility. "Bad Moon" is sung extensively in Spanish, causing listeners to stop and figure out how a how a band from Finland can land an Argentinean lead singer and pull off a jam so handsome that you wonder how Martinez would sound singing in Finnish.
In the end, a Flaming Sideburns album that is half covers is better than no Sideburns album at all. Ten years ago, the band was just a house band covering 60s hits in Helsinki, so it's not surprising they had all these songs lying around. Compiling them with a couple of recently recorded tracks from the current maturation point of the band is the safe thing to do, especially when their new full-length is right around the corner.