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Customer Review

on 25 February 2014
This is the version of 'Ass' to get but it remains a frustrating experience. The production,although improved upon, is still murky. The balance is skewed, five songs from Joey, versus two each from Pete and Tom and once from Mike. Let's review the contribution of each:
Pete: 'Apple Of My Eye' is a decent ballad marred by bad production (the drums are buried basically), and a somewhat melodramatic lyric. Interesting to note that the early version,here as a bonus track, is far superior. 'Timeless' tries hard to be epic and it has its moments (again the bonus version is superior). But let down by twee lyrics which are quite annoying if the truth be told. And that's it from Pete Ham on this album. The opener and the closer, and neither up to his usual high standards. Not what we'd come to expect (not that i was around to hear it at the time! :- )
Tom 'Blind Owl' is a good rocker but the production lacks punch (I can imagine what Todd R would have done with this one!) 'When I Say' has a nice melody but a weak overly sentimental lyric. Nice guitar solo.
Joey: Two 'Straight Up' rejects which are both decent but rejects none the less. Then we have 'Icicles' which is OK but again a bit weak lyrically. 'Constitution' is a heavy Cream-like rocker with some accomplished guitar work. But it's pretty generic and not much of a song really. 'Get Away' is probably the most listenable as it's fun and heartfelt. Production is lacking again, even on the remastered version. It's a bit controversial to say this but I think the bonus track 'Regular' is my favourite Joey track of this collection. Because it offers some much needed humour alongside most of its heavy cousins. 'Ass' is a heavy album and the band obviously dismissed this one as it wasn't heavy enough. Shame. 'Do You Mind' is another creditable Joey bonus track, no doubt rejected for the same reason.
Mike: Cowboy. This is the album's absolute highlight in my opinion. Which is a bit like choosing the Ringo track as your favourite on a Beatles record. Perverse maybe, but I'll stick by this song. It never fails to raise a smile with its hilarious carefree lyric and the guitar solo is sublime. The production for once is perfect.
So this is a curious album, full of promise and the odd bit of inspiration but overall the band seems bogged down in trying to create a heavy sound. Which may have worked live I don't know (not sure) but here the songwriting for the most part gives way to a manufactured sound which doesn't convince me. Thankfully they were to return to form two years later with the sublime 'Wish You Were Here'. This album sees the band trading water in the midst of a label change and all the trepidation that no doubt entailed. 3 stars not 4 because of the sloppy production and the lack of chestnuts. But it has its moments folks.
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars