Slash / Reprise Records, 1989


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The first time I ever heard the music of the BoDeans was in college in 1989. The college I went to had its own TV station, and one girl who produced some of the shows used snippets of songs from the then-current release from Kurt Neumann, Sammy Llanas and crew, Home, as the intro and outro music.

Since I was then considering a double-major in Radio/TV broadcasting and journalism, I spent a lot of time by the TV station, and thus heard the music a lot. (I soon dropped the Radio/TV major because I didn't like working on the TV side - that, and one of the faculty members was a complete asshole.) But the more I heard this music, the more I was intrigued by it - to the point where I eventually bought my own copy of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Home.

While Neumann and Llanas weren't big names when this record came out, and this album didn't send their stock rising through the roofs, it does show how well they had refined their craft, and how close they were to being ready for the big time. (Sadly, they never have achieved superstardom; had it not been for placement of one song on Party Of Five, they still would be one of rock's best-kept secrets.)

The two songs that always will stick out in my mind are the opening track, "When The Love Is Good", and "Hand In Hand". Both solid rockers powered by an opening guitar riff, Neumann and Llanas each add their own charm to these songs with their vocals (Neumann's are the smoother vocal leads, as on "When The Love Is Good"; Llanas is the huskier lead as on "Hand In Hand"). There's a reason these tracks have stuck with me for 10 years - they're damn good songs.

These, however, are not the strongest cuts on Home. You've got your roots-rockers that are dance-inspiring like "Good Work", and you've got the songs that pull at your heart-strings (though I don't know if this was intentional) like "Beautiful Rain" and "No One".

But the highlight of this album is what closes the album - the laid-back, acoustic performance of "Beaujolais," a song that almost makes you feel like you're spending an evening in Creole country. The gentle, quiet attack that the BoDeans take on this track make it the perfect way to bring down the electric energy they charged up for the album, and brings the listener back to a level of tranquility. I don't know if they could have chosen a better track to close with had they tried.

There are a few tracks that just don't capture my attention like the bulk of Home - "You Don't Get Much," a track I know once had single-potential to the label, is one I just can't get into no matter how hard I try. Others, like "Worlds Away" and "Red River," are good tracks, but are nothing spectacular. Still, these minor points don't take away from the overall power of this album.

Home is an album you might not know much about from a band you may not know much about. But if you want to discover more about the BoDeans than "Closer To Free," then Home is a great place to start.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 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.