Hot town, summer in the city. The broiling New York July was a time of vacation, and not a lot of listening time.
- Strange Change MachineThe Grip Weeds. The brand new album by New Jersey’s finest is a 2 CD set with over 80 minutes of music. There is a lot of really good stuff here, but the album suffers from the same problem that plagues most double sets: it should have been pared down. There’s nothing bad on the album. Even the worst songs (the Doors-y instrumental “Sun Ra Ga (Pt. One),” the brief “Green Room Interlude,” the silly “The Law,” the Seventies soft-rock of “Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be The Same” and the fruity “Love In Transition”) are pretty good, but without them the album would have been a 60+ minute powerhouse instead of a meandering 82 minutes. As is typical with the Grip Weeds there’s nothing here that you haven’t heard before. They wear their influences on their sleeves and their tributes to the Sixties and Seventies rock music they love is practically defiant in its brazenness. Continuing their habit of selecting a really choice cover song, they do an excellent reading of “Hello, It’s Me” finding a perfect spot in between the glacier-paced Nazz original and the sped-up kitchen sink production of Todd Rundgren’s hit single. “Hold Out For Tomorrow” manages to geekily tip a hat to the Beatles and the Stones in the same line: “Rubber soles/Worn shoe leather/Pocket full of holes/Kicking over stones/In a moonlight mile.” The aforementioned “Sun Ra Ga (Pt. One)” sounds a lot like the Doors jamming on the Middle Eastern vibe of “The End.” The Byrds-y harmonies appear all over the place, with Kurt Reil’s Keith Moon-influenced drums providing an extra hard rock edge. “Be Here Now,” “Thing Of Beauty,” “Strange Change Machine,” “Coming And Going,” “Hello, It’s Me” and “Long Way (To Come Around)” are the definite peaks, and the majority of the rest provides a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll kicks. The Grip Weeds aren’t particularly original, but their influences are in all the right places and they’re so good you don’t care about originality. There’s a place in the world (the older I get, the bigger that place seems to become) for bands that are more concerned with rocking out with good solid songs than they are with being on the cutting edge of the music scene. Strange Change Machine is about 65 minutes of high-energy, butt-kickin’ rock and roll in a solid classic rock style, and about 15 minutes of reasonably good filler.