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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bus Boys - Minimum Wage Rock & Roll

Name: Bus Boys
Album: Minimum Wage Rock & Roll
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave Oldies-Rock
Similar Bands: Blasters, J. Geils Band, Rockwell
"One-Word" Review: Comically-updated-oldies-revival
Based Out Of: Los Angeles
Label: Artista
Minimum Wage Rock & Roll - Cover & Record
Minimum Wage Rock & Roll - True Cover

Minimum Wage Rock & Roll (1980)
  1. Dr. Doctor 3:46 (Sample)
  2. Minimum Wage 3:24(Sample)
  3. Did You See Me? 3:30 (Sample)
  4. There Goes the Neighborhood 3:11 (Sample)
  5. Johnny Soul'd Out 2:42 (Sample)
  6. KKK 1:41 (Sample)/
  7. Anggie 3:57 (Sample)
  8. D-Day 4:18 (Sample)
  9. Tell the Coach 2:45 (Sample)
  10. We Stand United 3:13 (Sample)
  11. Respect 3:20 (Sample)
Album Rating (1-10):

Members & Other Bands:Steve Felix - Drums
Victor Johnson - Guitar, Vocals (Sammy Hagar Band)
Gus Lounderman - Vocals
Michael Jones - Synthesizer, Vocals
Robert Margouleff - Producer, Mixing
Brian O'Neal - Keyboards, Vocals, Mixing, Producer, Reissue Mastering
Kevin O'Neal - Bass, Mixing, Producer, Vocals
Howard Siegel - Engineer
Karen Siegel - 2nd Engineer
Michael Carnevale - 2nd Engineer
Bill Shirley - Artwork
Carolyn Blades - 2nd Engineer

I had never heard of these guys. But I expected a soulful blend of R&B and rock & roll, based upon the b/w cover image and the title of the album. As this was a promotional item, there was not too much album detail and I do not remember seeing the song titles. But I expected the music to be good.

Album Review: I never knew that they were the band responsible for the great instrumental in Ghostbusters. I have always loved that song, but never thought to check out the band responsible for the song. Unfortunately, that came after this album. Nevertheless, 'Minimum Wage' is a very, very good album.

The first track is a dirty, rock n' roll guitar-led groove. A keyboard is added, slightly new wave and all 80's in style. And the vocals come on, full of energy and a sense of honest emotion. But the best part of the song is the bass hook that leads into the chorus. It is a tumble down the musical scale, it is one of those musical moments that could come at nearly any moment in the song. It occurs after the keyboard sections, but only half the time when it precedes the chorus. There is a happy, fun guitar solo, which leads right into the end of the song, a climactic musical instrument chaos. "Minimum Wage" is a fantastic bass heavy groove, sly and sneaky in tone, and all the different singers contribute to the track, taking turns in the verse. They combined to form a powerful chant in the chorus. It feels very similar to Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me." The guitar solo sounds like it would be right at home in "Beat It." "Did You See Me" begins with a sinister keyboard/guitar blended intro, which repeats through out the song. Theatrical vocal dialogue follows, about a shoe shine boy. The structure of the song is very simple. Drums drive the song in a storytelling, rap style of lyric, with jagged keyboards mixing in. "There Goes the Neighborhood" is a comedic song. It plays up the situation stereotypically reserved for uppity white folks in role reversal, best described by the chorus's lyric "the whites are moving in, they'll bring their next of kin." It is anthemic in its powerful nature. "Johnny Soul'd Out" is a straightforward Chuck Berry rock n' roll style song. It has the bouncy piano, soulful vocals, start/stop guitar work, and a quick rolling bass line; everything that made the best rock and roll music of the 50's. The theme is that Johnny is dumping R&B for rock n' roll. And the song definitely proves it. "KKK" is a short, quick-paced piano driven rock n' roll song in the same style of "Johnny." It's message is tongue-in-cheek: that you need to join the KKK in order to be in a rock n' roll band.

Their love ballad comes on the record flip. "Anggie" is a slower bouncy piano & jagged guitar lament. There is a drum break, that sounds like it is about to become the same beat in "Boys to Men's" 'Poison,' which is followed by a short, fast instrumental section. Then the song reclaims its ballad style to the song's crashing, chaotic end. "D-Day" is a funky rock/R&B song. In the verse, it features speaking vocals that overlap a sung chorus of the same lyrics. The chorus is a repetitive chant of 'D-Day.' "Tell the Coach" is a slower, R&B song, with fantasy chimes hinting in the background. Even with its slick/bland 70's R&B production feel, the song is still outstanding. The chorus is a very catchy repetitive chant of "Tell the coach everything's gonna be alright." "We Stand United" has a prog feel to it, which is entirely based on the sound of the bass & keyboard. The chorus is two parts, a catchy new wave/ disco keyboard section separated by the chanted lyrics "we stand united." The final song is complete rocking new wave. This is evident in the liquid beach boys keyboard sound, the quick jerky rhythm of the guitars, and the energy projected in the vocals. The song is broken down into short catchy sections, each better than the preceding section. The song builds so well, and finishes off in such a high energy and fun atmosphere, even throwing in the lyrics stylings of Devo singing "I Can't Get No," (referring to respect, not satisfaction though), that you feel a sense of enjoyment and release.

There is something so simplistic, and easy about the songs on this album. They give off a presence that they were effortless in composition, are correct, and have always been around. It seems like a job in translation, rather than creation, when these musicians recorded these songs as this album.

Stand-Out Track:



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