Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, Atlanta’s Tommy Rivers and the Raw Ramps blast forth with nearly an album’s worth of 3-minute, melancholy trash-pop gems which would fit nicely in your record collection were it filled with contemporary underground balladeers such as the Bounty Hunters, Dogs d’Amour, the Chamber Strings, as well as old Bowie, Beatles and Stones.
“Normal Town” opens the album with its glimmery twirl of Ziggy-era Bowie melodies and big tube-amp guitars; it sets the pace nicely for the following 40 minutes (a nice, perfect length in these indulgent days of 60-minute-plus albums). Tommy and his ragged crew of rockers are big fans of ’70’s Stones ballads (the chorus of “Thinking Of You” recalls “’Til The Next Goodbye”), Beatles harmonies and ’60s psychedelic swirl (“Rip out the Sky” could be a Their Satanic Majesties Request outtake). There is even the ghost of Detroit’s late, great Torpedos (go figure) floating through the chorus of “I Can’t See You Again.” Rivers’ has a knack for great pop melodies (remember those?); his dirty-pretty voice is a mix of Tyla and Nikki Sudden (but not as irritating as the latter). That Rivers understands rock ’n’ roll is all about having fun keeps him from descending into pretentious Never-Never Land.
Being that this album is so out of style and time with current music trends, it’s a huge compliment to the band’s love of rock ’n’ roll ghosts from days of yore. Tommy Rivers and the Raw Ramps is the kind of classic record where nearly every song is a sing-along. It is, in fact, the great unknown rock ’n’ roll record of the year, sure to be overlooked in hipster sets everywhere.
E-mail Ricky Phillips at [email protected].