Artist: The Doughboys
Album: Front Street Rebels
Label: Ram Records
Release Date: 08.18.17
Front Street in Plainfield, New Jersey, was Doughboys’ turf in the mid ’60s, although their sphere of influence soon spread like wildfire across the state and the region. Their 2000 reunion still going strong 17 years later, the East Coast garage-rock legends—who once served a summer of ’68 residency as house band at the famed Café Wha?—set out to reclaim their territory with a spirited, raucous effort that hammers home the idea that the Doughboys are as potent as ever.
Evoking the gritty thrills of records by such ’60s contemporaries as the Sonics and Count Five, Front Street Rebels, the band’s fifth album, shakes some trashy, wild action with “Fool for Your Love” and “Manic Reaction,” while the hyperactive “History” is a ball of frenzied energy. There’s still plenty of fire in the belly, as the galloping “Exit Homestead Enter Endless Road” and “The Atomic Wavelength Transference Device” bare their teeth with feral intensity and strong, rough-and-tumble hooks. This is rock ‘n’ roll played with heart and soul, just like that of their heroes the Yardbirds. And the bluesy crawl of “Sure Fire” is reminiscent of The Animals, with lonely harmonica wafting through the air, while “The Queen of Bizarre” is exotic and slinky.
Accuse them of rehashing the past if you want—and on certain rare occasions, the songwriting seems more pedestrian than profound. Though valid, such criticisms shouldn’t detract from the joy of hearing another sincere, untamed expression of rock ‘n’ roll daring by the Doughboys. From the sharp, stinging guitar work and smoldering organs of Gar Francis to the primal, manly vocals of Myke Scavone, the tough, sure-footed bass of Mike Caruso and the powerhouse drumming of Richie Heyman, Front Street Rebels finds the Doughboys in peak form.