Philadelphia's Marah, led by brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko, composed
a saga of life in their hometown via the rootsy, com/passionate vignettes of
Let's Cut The Crap And Hook Up Later On Tonight (Black Dog, 1998),
a diverse and exuberant rock'n'roll album worthy of the classics.
The soulful Fever for plaintive folksinger and marching band could be one of the Kinks' vintage vignettes.
Formula Cola Dollar Draft borrows the tone and the harmonica from
Bob Dylan's manual but adds a rural banjo
(like a "countryfied" version of Absolutely Sweet Marie).
The passionate blue-collar rock of
Tom Petty and
Bruce Springsteen rings in the pensive
ballads Firecracker and For the Price of a Song,
as well as in the rockabilly/bluegrass gallop Eventually Rock and
the mad rhythm'n'blues rave-up of Head On.
The swinging piano-driven gospel-tinged Boat is off the chart,
while the nine-minute Limb evokes
some sober Rolling Stones (and after six
minutes brings in Scottish bagpipes and military drums).
Kids In Philly (E-squared, 2000) was more polished and
virulent. While still an entertaining stylistic romp, it spoiled quite a bit
of the surreal magic of the debut due to a
brilliant production (Faraway You, Round Eye Blues) at times
feverish (Point Breeze) and even
hysterical (Christian St)
clearly inspired by Springsteen's Born To Run.
Even The Catfisherman, the most original number, lacked the persuasive
spontaneity of the first album, while the
romantic From The Skyline Of A Great Big Town was basically
left unfinished, soon obscured by the
visceral blues-rock of The History Of Where Someone Has Been Killed.
The lavishly arranged Float Away with the Friday Night Gods (E-squared, 2002) and
the mediocre 20,000 Streets Under the Sky (Yep Roc, 2004) maintained a high level
of intensity and emotion, and roamed a vast stylistic territory. The former
attempted a poppy route that failed. The latter remained faithful to their blues-soul-rock roots.
Their obsessive working-class tales of Philadelphia ended up drawing
comparisons with Bruce Springsteen.
If You Didn't Laugh You'd Cry (Yep Roc, 2005)
veered towards garage-rock
(Fat Boy, The Closer, The Hustle).
Angels Of Destruction (Yep Roc, 2008), featuring new
keyboardist Christine Smith, was more convincing in the
(rowdy) way it reinterpreted boogie, blues and gospel music
(Wild West Love Song,
Coughing Up Blood,
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