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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Brain Surgeons

Piece of Work

Review by Gary Hill

This album really seems to show that this band is not content to be working in one particular style. Indeed, the styles on this double disc release range from jazzy barbershop singing to hard rock to ballads to progish material. All of it is performed quite well. This is probably Brain Surgeons strongest work to date. Due to the Bouchard presence, BOC elements still show up, but the work is definitely not limited to them.


The Brain Surgeons are Peter Bohovesky, Albert Bouchard, Deborah Frost, Billy Hilfiger and David Hirschberg. They are joined on this album by Crispin Cioe, Merrill Clark, Soozie Tyrell and Ace Bouchard.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1-Piece
Biloxi
A sort of barbershop quartet arrangement, this is an accapella song that calls to mind the female jazz singers of yesteryear. It is impressive to see a band that is capable of this level of harmonies, and Frost proves the she has a very powerful voice.
Rain, Rain
Starting in jazzy sorts of tones, this is a bluesy number that really calls to mind Janis Joplin. This is a fun and potent cut.
On The Road (Again)
With strong metallic tones beginning the piece, this one has a nice texture and a good groove to it. It features an instrumental section built around a killer saxophone solo.
Practice Makes Perfect
This is a catchy rock tune, not really exceptional, but quite competent.
Swamp Thing
"Swamp Thing" is a strong rocking number based on a fun riff. It feels like some of the crunchier, tastier riff based BOC.
(Note: The CD cover lists Bad Hair Day as the next track, but actually it does not come until later)
Alpha and Omega
With an intro that feels a bit bluesy, this is a strong rocker built on a potent riff. The verse is a more mellow type of rock number, a bit quirky and rather unusual.
More Than Truth
This is a good quirky rock cut.
Hot Dog Man
This awesome cut features a meaty, metallic rock and roll riff and very unusual arrangement. This cut is quite entertaining and contains some definite prog leanings and a nice sax solo.
Bad Hair Day
Bouncy and fun, this one feels quite a bit like the more light hearted BOC fare. "Give me a flat top, Shave my dome today, Give me a flat top, A haircut that will stay."
Last Angry Woman
A potent and strong riff based number, this one really rocks in a Zeppelinesque mode. "I'm the last angry woman you'll need."
Way of the World
A slow tempo classic hard rock sounding cut, this is a great ballad. The bass on the song really stands out and the Joplinish vocals appear on this cut, as well. With a great arrangement, this is an awesome classic rocker.
Pink Roses
Based in a strong BOC type of groove, the song is taken a bit off kilter by an unusual keyboard and vocal arrangement that puts it firmly into a rather unique vein. The keyboards and arrangement on the chorus further cement and define that uncommon texture.
Disc 2-Work
Rock and Roll Is Dead
Screaming guitars begin this number, which is a straight ahead rocker with an almost chant based vocal line that proclaims "Rock and roll is dead." This is a very fun and fairly simple song.
Confession #9
Starting off very dramatically in a nearly classic Blue Oyster Cult mode, this composition has a great texture to it. "Confess to me, Baby, it's alright." This is a very strong rock number in that BOC tradition. The Frost vocals on this one really add a lot to the cut. It is a considerably well done song.
Billy's Song
In a powerful balladic mode, this one is just a bit Hawkwindish.
Simple Man
A cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, this is quite a competent rendition that almost feels like it could be an Eric Clapton rendition. Most of the vocals (especially early on) are spoken, which adds a dramatic flair to the piece. This is a very strong cover.
Victory Boulevard
"Victory Boulevard" is a strong basic rock and roll number.
Madame X Factor
A very jazzy sort of cut, this one works in a very progish mode. It is a balladic sort of cut that really works. This one could really pass as a prog ballad.
Lost
A nice somewhat dark acoustic guitar mode makes this another dramatic and rather prog oriented composition. This one features some nice violin work that really makes the cut.
Competition
Starting off very hard edged and energetic, this is a high powered rock and roll number. Think BOC meets Zeppelin with Heartish vocals. The metallic guitar solo on this one is especially strong.
Prince Albert In The Cans
A slowly building percussion solo, with some weird textures at times. Coming from its slow beginnings, it starts to take on a more solid rock groove, picking up speed and complexity. Then it moves on in different directions. This is a very entertaining drum solo. Some electric sounds emerge later to move the piece to its closing.
Lady of the Harbor
This is a well constructed and performed rocker. The lady of the harbor in the title refers to the Statue of Liberty. This features a wonderfully complex arrangement and is the best cut on the album. It also includes a harmonica solo.
Hidden Track
The album ends with an encore performance of "Biloxi" that adds a completeness to the collection.
 
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