Thankfully, Strippers Union did not drop a deuce for The Deuce. No sophomore slump for these guys. Most of the band s back with the only move being Simon Kendall making an exit for Murry Atkinson on keys. Rob Baker and Craig Northey are again the primary songwriters for all but two of its 10 tracks which clock in at 41 minutes. If you know me, I can appreciate a short album that gets to the point.
So, how are those 10 songs? Well, Making Strange is a terrific album opener. It immediately establishes how much of a production upgrade we got over the debut. Baker’s booming Greg Allman-like electric slide revs the song right up to speed. The uplifting feeling from the horn section makes it the perfect song for a spring drive down the highway with the windows down. Just don’t go too fast. At 209.9 cents a liter, you’ll wreck your gas kilometrage.
Actually, songs 1-9 are excellent. We’ll be here all day if I go through them individually, so let me stick to some highlights.
Of course, Craig Northey’s lyrics remain in full form. None are more bitting than in When Your Beauty Fades (You’ll Be Lonely):
You’re a temporary bloom
Like a sunbeam across the room
And when your beauty fades
You’ll be lonely
Oh, yeah. We ALL know the kind. Be kind, people. Be kind.
All of the band members earned a co-writing credit for I Give You Away, which is probably the album’s thickest song with its booming “wall of sound” opening:
Love how the band rocks this one out, Baker’s guitar tone for the solo, and the sing-a-long vocal melody. This one would be my favourite on the album if it were not for:
I’m not much of a drug guy unless cigars and scotch count, but I just love a song like High. It has the kind of melody that sinks right into my skull. I think the song is more about being high on love than drugs, but you can take it any way you like.
I also love Fade to Black. If this isn’t a tribute to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, then it is a tribute to Neil Young and The Stray Gators. They got everything down. The harp, the guitar solo, the beat. I’d love to hear Neil himself cover it.
The album ends with the Gordon Lightfoot cover, The Circle Is Small. It is a different take on the song with Rob Baker’s vocals in full Leonard Cohen, which I usually don’t mind. For this, like when Type O Negative covered Black Sabbath, it loses too much of the original’s melody for me. It ends the album on a bit of a downer and it almost has me wishing the album was only 9 tracks.
The Duece is a beaut otherwise. With memorable hooks and melodies, it is the kind of album that stays with me. This, along with The Undertaking has me feeling like… Dare I say it?… I might enjoy Strippers Union better than Odds or The Tragically Hip. Is that wrong? I LOVE those bands. But this feels so right. Maybe I’m high.
The odds are you need more Odds/Craig Northey/Strippers Union in you:
[Album Review] Odds | Neopolitan
[Album Review] Odds | Bedbugs
[Album Review] Odds | Good Weird Feeling
[Album Review] Odds | Nest
[Album Review] Craig Northey | Giddy Up
[Album Review] Northey Valenzuela
[Album Review] Strippers Union | Stripper’s Union Local 518
[Album Review] The New Odds | Cheerleader
[Album Review] Strippers Union | The Deuce
[EP Review] Odds | The Most Beautiful Place On Earth
[EP Review] Odds | Game Face On
[EP Review] Odds | Party Party Party
[Album Review] Strippers Union | 3- The Undertaking