Monday, January 25, 2010

GREAT BUILDINGS/Extra Epic Everything CD review

Great Buildings were a quartet with roots stretching back to the mid-'70s. Vocalist Danny Wilde and bassist Ian Ainsworth had been members of the Sparks-inspired band The Quick, who had released their Mondo Deco album in 1976. The Quick actually ended up spawning some of L.A.'s finest: drummer Danny Benair, went on to help form The Three O'clock while guitarist Steven Hufsteter played in bands like The Dickies before forming The Cruzados.

A little while after The Quick split, Wilde and Ainsworth joined forces with guitarist Phil Solem and drummer Richard Sandford in a quartet they christened Great Buildings. Though they weren't immediately caught up in the Power Pop scene in '79, within a year, the labels came sniffing around and the band were eventually signed, releasing their debut album, Apart From The Crowd, in 1981.

(For my review of GREAT BUILDINGS' Apart From The Crowd CD, go HERE.)

Though the band gigged over the next year or so (even adding fifth member Mike Mariano on keyboards), no album seemed to be forthcoming and they soon split. What outsiders (such as myself) didn't know is that the band had demoed a second album with Apart From The Crowd producer John Boylan.  That set of demos (along with a previously unreleased track from the Apart From The Crowd sessions) has finally been released some 28 years after they were recorded!

Extra Epic Everything is exactly what one would have expected from the band following their excellent debut: catchy tunes, punchy production and pure infectious energy.  Wilde's vocals have a lot more soul and power, the band's musical interplay is more dynamic and Mariano's keyboards add extra depth to the band's sound.

If the word 'demo' scares you away, there is absolutely no need to fear: Extra Epic Everything rocks even harder than Apart From The Crowd! While these recordings could have used an extra layer of harmony vocals or a very minor tweak or two, they are damn near perfect as is.  To be honest, I have heard bootlegged 4th generation versions of many of these tracks for years, but these recordings are direct from the master and they sound absolutely wonderful.

To think of these tracks as nearly 30 years old boggles the mind because they sound so crisp, clean and clear.  "Mama Don't Shoot", "Way To Go", "Final Showing", "Goodbye, Goodbye" and "So You Dance" are standouts, but I'm sure I'll discover (and rediscover) new gems with each spin.

Liner notes from Ian "Ainsworth" Grey provide an inside look at the band, which fascinates this long-time fanboy!

Is Extra Epic Everything as good as Apart From The Crowd? That is hard to say because their debut has a 28 year advantage over EEE.  I'd say that they are pretty damn close but ask me again in about 30 years time....

You're welcome,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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