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Cirque Du Soleil
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Rising Stars [Issue #10]
Mooney Suzuki: Keeping Rock Alive And Amlpified
By Dean Truitt
Alive & Amplified (CD Red Ink/Columbia)

When The Mooney Suzuki began talking to their label, Columbia Records, about making a rock masterpiece to follow their critically-acclaimed Electric Sweat, they envisioned using hallowed producer Jeff Lynne, the ELO mastermind who molded albums into sheer commercial brilliance for upper echelon artists such as The Beatles and Tom Petty.

One can only imagine the shock they felt when their A&R person inquired about the band’s interest in working with the Matrix, who rose to international notoriety writing and producing for teen idols Avril Lavigne and Hillary Duff. The Mooney Suzuki’s early work had drawn comparisons to punk rock icons including the MC5, Stooges, and The Ramones. Suddenly, it seemed the label wanted to turn them into The Banana Splits.

After hesitantly agreeing to work with the Matrix in Los Angeles, the band instantly feared they had made a critical mistake. Singer Sammy James, Jr. reveals, “We were not used to working the way they [the Matrix] did. We had always made albums very quickly and now we would wait for hours if there was a broken snare [drum] head.” James also acknowledges that the pairing was a process of each side learning to adapt to the other. He explains, “We had different ideas about music and it was challenging.”

However, after one listen, fans can rest assured that the band has made an amazing rock record. Their sophomore release on Columbia, Alive & Amplified, confirms that The Mooney Suzuki would be able to deliver a blistering blitzkrieg of infectious rock even if Burt Bacharach turned the studio knobs. This music is still made by the world’s greatest garage band, but the Matrix just cleaned their garage a little before letting them walk into the studio. Half the album’s material germinated from the unlikely collaboration between the band and producers. The remainder were tunes the band had written that the three members of the Matrix team essentially revamped. It is becoming an increasingly rare event to find an album with both the unbridled energy and confectionery hooks found on Alive & Amplified.

From the pounding assault of the opening track, “Primitive Condition,” The Mooney Suzuki immediately gets to the point of bashing the listener’s head while seducing the ears. Singer Sammy James, Jr.’s brash swagger is reminiscent of AC/DC’s Bon Scott. Showing versatility, “Sometimes Somethin” demonstrates a softer, anthemic profundity without resorting to saccharine sweetness. Clearly, the band has taken a risk that has paid off in excess. For those about to rock, we Suzuki!

Alive & Amplified
Red Ink/Columbia

Keeping Rock Alive And Amlpified Mooney Suzuki Alive & Amplified

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