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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Bun E. Carlos

Greetings from Bunezuela!

Review by Gary Hill

Those popping this disc in to spin and expecting a Cheap Trick album might be disappointed. Sure, Bun E. Carlos has been best known as the drummer for Cheap Trick, but honestly, this is not a Cheap Trick album. It does share many of the same influences, but addresses them in a different way. Those looking for a drum centric album might be disappointed, too. There are no drum solos or any real showing off by Carlos. That’s because, as he says in the liner notes, it’s all about the philosophy of “serve the song.” This is an album of covers, but for me it might as well be original music because I don’t really remember any of the originals of these songs. Interestingly enough I had already written my reviews of the individual songs and called attention to several guitar solos I really enjoyed before I read the credits. Then I noticed those solos were played by Rick Pemberton. He’s an old friend of mine. I used to lug gear for a couple of his bands and took bass lessons from him for years. It’s great to hear him getting some world-wide attention on this album, and doing it with style. All in all, this album is a lot of fun.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Do Something Real

Featuring Robert Pollard, this is a great opener. There is a bit of a punk edge to it in some ways. Beyond that, though, it’s like psychedelia meets glam with a modern musical twist. This is catchy, edgy and meaty. Sure, comparisons to Cheap Trick are valid, but it’s much more than that.

Armenia City In The Sky
There is a Beatles element in some ways on this. Add in plenty of 60s garage rock and some psychedelia. This is like The Amboy Dukes meets the MC-5 to me. John Stirratt is featured here.
Him Or Me
With Hanson guesting, this rocker really feels like something that would have come out in the 1960s. It’s the same kind of British invasion inspired rocker that you might have expected from The Monkees. It’s catchy and a lot of fun. It also has some meat on the bones and even some hints of country music at times.
I Love You No More
This number has a really retro feel. It dates back to the days when there was really only one kind of rock music, rock and roll. Alex Dezen is featured on this tune. It’s very much a 50s styled rocker. It’s also quite effective. I have to mention that my former music teacher Rick Pemberton plays guitar on this song and several of the later ones. .
Tell Me
Another that’s very 50s inspired, this one features Alejandro Escovedo. The cut is a cool rocker that feels a bit like Roy Orbison. There is a bit of a modern edge here, even some hints of punk, but overall this is a cool retro rocker. Given the writing credits, this must be a Rolling Stones song, but it’s one with which I’m not familiar.
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
Now this one has a real classic old school rock goes punk sound to it. It’s catchy and quite a bit of fun. It features Dave Pirner. The extended guitar solo on this is very traditional in style and very classy. Again, I have to say, that solo was played by Mr. Rick Pemberton.
Let The Mystery Be
The vocals here are provided by Xeno and I think they are among the best on the disc. This song is one of the highlights, too. It’s really very much a folk rock styled piece. It’s a lot of fun. It’s melodic and just so cool.
Robert Pollard is back here. I mentioned Roy Orbison earlier. This is another song that makes me think of him. This is another that’s closer to something you’d expect from Cheap Trick, too. It’s a melodic rocker that’s very cool. There’s a soaring, almost psychedelic rock section at the end. This song was originally a Bee Gees tune.
Les Cactus
Featuring Nicholas Tremulis, this one isn’t in English. It’s angry and a bit punky. It reminds me of the Kingsmen in some ways. It’s a stomping old school rocker with a raw edge.
I Can Only Give You Everything
That 60s garage rock sound is all over this. It’s a rough around the edges stomper that calls to mind acts from the Kinks to the Stones and even some punk. This features Rick Rizzo.
Slow Down
One would expect a song with that title to be slower. That’s the case here. This is more or less a retro styled power ballad. It features Alejandro Escovedo.
Count On Me
With a real 1960s pop rock sound to it, this is a fun cut. It’s very retro in flavor. It’s also one of my favorites of the disc. This one is another with Xeno. This number even includes strings.
I Don't Mind
Featuring Alex Dezen, this is one of the most Cheap Trick like songs. It’s one of the most modern in tone. The extended guitar solo section is quite cool, too. Again, it’s Rick Pemberton.
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