Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Spread Eagle - s/t (MCA, 1990)

Underrated. Underappreciated. Overlooked.

Peruse any review of this skillful foursome from NYC. The accolades will join comments regarding a second-tier status. Let the likes of posers such as Warrant revel in what's left of their dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking riches. Twenty years after the label advances have been cashed, Spread Eagle's ATM card is still loaded with respect. Unlike cherry pies or democracy in China, that admirable quality knows no price tag.

I'd like for you to meet a guitar hero without a gaming console. Paul DiBartolo strikes the orange, blue, yellow, red and green notes with the expertise of a shiftless layabout who occasionally strums the demo set-up at Wal-Mart in order to impress onlookers. If Aerosmith needed a replacement axe-grinder in the game called rock 'n' roll, the band would make a wise choice in recruiting him. Vocalist Ray West fills the Steven Tyler-via-Vince Neil-via-Axl Rose slot to a tee. His gifted pipes tell the sleazy tales by passionately screaming to the lungs' apex. Tommi Gallo performs enough tricks on the sticks to be more than Tommy Lee's stunt double. Bassist Rob De Luca plays the part of Michael Anthony by forming SE's backbone and contributing key harmonies to the busy mix.

Umlauts unite! Thanks to the double-bass rhythms from Gallo, "Suzy Suicide" ingests the chalky pill of Too Fast For Love-era Mötley Crüe and chases the grit with a glass of Motörhead's toxic tempo. When starry eyes become glazed in the throes of an addictive lifestyle, no ace of spade can be traded for a get-out-of-jail-free card. Apartment dwellers in the "Broken City" confront rats in the kitchen nibbling on pizza crust and strange faces in the hallways on a nightly basis. Slumlords and shattered glass are part of the rental agreement at a complex called Hades' Hollow, but having leaky roofs is a better housing option than an intact cardboard box. "Scratch Like A Cat" claws at "law dogs (who) come sniffin' around" the alleyways after dark. Rumor has it that a particular feline named Sebastian watched an unlucky mouse on skid row get mangled beyond recognition at the paws of the SE crew. Combative sounds of whiskey-fueled domestic quarrels are the ones that cut the deepest on "Switchblade Serenade." As West's throat gymnastics recall the slinky tumbles of vintage Aerosmith, the eats on the table rotate between a menu of love and hate. "Shotgun Kiss" is another choice weapon. The good girl in the pretty white dress transforms from a maiden into a minx, and DiBartolo's Slash-y leads blend G N' R shells and T & A lipstick.

Talons gripping and wings extending, SE's confident debut wipes the floor with many higher-profile albums of its era and leaves 'em there.

Assume the position.
- Gunther 8544

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