Sunday, October 4, 2009

4 OUT OF 5 DOCTORS/Reconstruction review

Here's what I had to say about it on All Music Guide!

"For nearly 30 years, I have been an avid 4 Out Of 5 Doctors fan, consistently singing their praises although their original LPs have been deleted for decades. I’ve scoured the used bins and bought copies of the albums to give to friends who were in need of some cool tunes and inspiration. Apart from my friends, I felt that I was the only true hardcore fan of the band.

That is, until the internet allowed me to connect to fans all around the world. Eventually, the ‘net led me straight to the doorstep of the band members themselves and I would occasionally communicate with guitarist Jeff Severson and vocalist/bassist Cal Everett. But, after loosing contact over the years, nothing prepared me for the self-released two CD set, Reconstruction. After years of sending off e-mails to various labels, begging for the band’s back catalog to be reissued, my prayers were answered by the band themselves!

Reconstruction contains digitally remastered versions of the band’s two albums (1980’s 4 Out Of Five Doctors and 1982’s 2nd Opinion) plus two unreleased bonus tracks. To say that this is an extraordinary release is an understatement! First off, the sound is amazing and I do actually hear little riffs I missed while listening to the vinyl thousands of times, over and over again. And “Waiting For Roxanne” (from 2nd Opinion) even has a count-in that wasn’t available on the original vinyl release! OK, so it may be nerdy to get excited about things like that, but what the hell! I’m a nerd!

4 OUT OF 5 DOCTORS: Throwing this talented, yet unknown, American band in the studio with established producer Alan Winstanley (who, with his "other half," Clive Langer, produced some of the finest albums of the '80s including all of Madness' albums) was a brilliant idea. The Doctors' had three fine songwriters in their ranks (bassist/vocalist Cal Everett and guitarists Jeff Severson and George Pittaway), and, as a whole, the Doctors (and Winstanley) crafted an album of songs that were stylistically varied but were absolutely POP to the core. Although the album itself was geared toward a younger crowd, the Doctors' inventive arrangements were more mature than "clever," creating an album that was more "timeless" than "of it's time." Of course, there were attempts to turn the Doctors into a new wave band (just listen to the quirky spy-themed "Danger Man" for proof) but their keen sense of melody saved the day. In fact, the Doctors were classic songwriters, putting as much into the verses, bridges, and middle eights as they did with their choruses. Lyrically, they were clever, not relying too much on the normal new wave themes of the time (though both "Modern Man" and the aforementioned "Danger Man" do allude to their times). The centerpiece of the album is two rockin' songs linked together that close the first side of the album, "Opus 10" and "I Want Her," both rather basic in formula but powerful in their delivery and placement on the album. A touchingly endearing album with more heart than you'd expect.

2ND OPINION: Though their self-titled debut album met with little or no national success, the Doctors entered the studio to record their second album, this time with hitmaking producer Jeff Glixman, who had handled many commercial rock artists in recent years, including Kansas. Strange as it may seem, the Doctors' '80s outlook and Glixman's hard rock history created an album as exciting as the Doctors' debut, though less varied. Using the first album's "I Want Her" as a jumping-off point, the Doctors rock hard on 2nd Opinion without losing any of their charm or melodicism. Bassist/vocalist Cal Everett sounds more confident vocally and his songs have even more hooks than before. "Breaking Rocks" rocks hard with a vocal that will melt even the most hardened criminal. "The Lonely Ones" is equally wonderful. "Dawn Patrol" is the pop/rocker that Night Ranger wanted to write but was too pompous to do so. Guitarist Jeff Severson's "Waiting for Roxanne" is an absolute classic right out of the box and should have been the big radio hit that the Doctors were waiting for.
An essential purchase for any fan of Power Pop, New Wave, ‘80s Rock and ‘60s-inspired tunesmithery."

Here's some clips from the band's 2008 reunion show performing some of the wonderful tracks from this release:

Recommended by 4 out of 5 Spazzes,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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