Black And White

BoDeans

Slash / Reprise Records, 1991

http://www.bodeans.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/06/1998

By 1991, the BoDeans might not have been superstars, but they were walking the line between alternative rockers and AOR radio staples.

Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas, the core of the group, demonstrated on Black And White in 1991 that their band was capable of performing both types of music, and for the most part, this tightrope act succeeds. However, a few songs fall faster than Karl Wallenda on a windy day.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

A couple of the songs on this, their fourth release, did get significant airplay, at least here in the Chicagoland area. "Good Things" is a song that demonstrates how powerful an understated guitar and vocal can be. Neumann and Llanas's harmonizing vocals add just the right touch to this song, and it remains one of my favorite BoDeans songs ever. Likewise, "Paradise" is a gentle song that aims for the listener's heart as well as their ears.

A few other songs have seen the golden airwaves as well. "Naked" is a stark picture of devotion to a loved one, while "Do I Do" is a fun little boogie that is sure to incite spontaneous dancing in the vicinity of the tape deck. However, neither song received as much airtime as "Good Things".

One song which stands out as a winner on Black And White is "True Devotion," a song which for some reason didn't get a chance to shine as a single. Too bad, 'cause this one captures the roughness of the BoDeans while showing off their tightness as a band.

The biggest problem with Black And White is the inclusion of a lot of filler. Some of it is good ("Black, White And Blood Red," "Long Hard Day"), some of it isn't so good ("Hell Of A Chance"). And while the better material easily wins out, the filler only tends to drag this album out a bit, making it a little more difficult to get through.

Neumann and Llanas would easily recover from the mistakes made on this album; Go Slow Down would give the band their breakout hit in "Closer To Free" (helped in part by the television series Party Of Five). However, one would be wise to turn back the clock and pick up Black And White as a primer to their success. This album paints the picture of a band that was still struggling to claw their way to the top, but at least they knew which way to travel on the ladder.

Rating: B

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© 1998 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.