- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

(Virginia Soul Records)
The latest offering from the Northern Virginia quartet Eddie From Ohio should be approached as if it were a musical feast — a smorgasbord of very different treats.
"Quick" is the band's seventh album in its 10 years together, and it's a dandy. The CD combines the band's signature quirky, folk-pop sound and lyrics that make English professors blush because of the unusual use of the language. But the album is also thoughtful and showcases the talents of each band member. These often are overlooked by even EFO's most devout fans (or Edheads) since the band is thought of as providing more playful entertainment than serious music.
The musical meal begins with a trio of songs that are delicious mind candy for the ear — and the feet, if you like to dance. The title song, "Quick," is an upbeat ditty about the theory of relativity in which Julie Murphy Wells sings of how Albert Einstein was "never good at math," about NASCAR legend Richard Petty and also explains some elementary physics. All this in the same tune. "Let's Get Mesolithic" and "The Best of Me" are two other songs that get a good chuckle. Miss Wells and guitarist/singer Robbie Schaefer complain in "Mesolithic" about the modern politically correct (P.C.) world of today and long for the prehistoric (B.C.) days of the Flintstones. "Best" is Miss Wells' lamenting of relationships that go too well.
A set of songs in the middle of the album really is the entree of this work. The craftsmanship of these songs should take EFO from a kind-of-known quantity to stardom. The catchy "Number Six Driver," about leaving behind a familiar world, is one of the best-composed songs on the album, with EFO's signature harmonies shining through.
Mr. Schaefer's "Candido and America" and bassist-guitarist Michael Clem's "Abraham" put EFO among the likes of Pete Seeger and Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. "Candido" is reminiscent of the innocent sounds of Simon and Garfunkel's "America." Mr. Schaefer's smooth voice and his and Mr. Clem's exquisite guitar playing make the song one that needs to be listened to repeatedly to appreciate its complexities.
Such also is the case with "Abraham," which is actually a duet by Mr. Clem and Mr. Schaefer. It has much the same soulful sound as "Candido," but the lyrics are not as uplifting. Instead, "Abraham" is a song of regrets and missed chances.
After every good big meal comes the dessert, and "Quick" serves its sweet stuff in many forms such as "Tommy the Canexian," a humorous tune about a Mexican-Canadian named Tommy who sees the United States splitting his family tree. "Monotony" is another funny piece about, well, the same thing over and over and over and over again.
To complete the buffet and cleanse the palate, "Quick" offers two a cappella tunes led by Miss Wells. The first of these is "Hey Little Man," and is a sweet tune written for Liam, Miss Wells' son. The lyrics about the dreams of a child are touching. The other song, "Great Day," is a gospel tune that was recorded this past spring at the Barns of Wolf Trap, and Miss Wells and her band mates belt out the song as if it were the last one they would sing.
As on the band's other albums and at shows, percussionist Eddie Hartness keeps the beat and provides a depth to the songs that not many can do with a set of conga drums.
EFO, which will appear for the first time Friday at Wolf Trap's Filene Center, has come a long way from its bar-hopping days. "Quick" shows the group's maturity and evolution as a band destined for great things. — Daniel F. Drummond

(Surfdog Records)
Brian Setzer's got a few things on his mind, namely drivin', drinkin', fightin' and lovin'.
Oh, and rockin'.
The former frontman for the Stray Cats has spent the past few years playing jump/swing with his own full orchestra. He's back to rockabilly and a three-piece lineup, but the sound is as large as ever.
Mr. Setzer has teamed with two members of the Brian Setzer Orchestra — drummer Bernie Dresel and bassist Mark W. Winchester — to bring us "Ignition," featuring "14 brand-new hot rod songs and makeout tunes," as the cover says. It revs up from the start and never lets off the gas. The themes are basic — cars and girls — with double-entendre lyrics that discuss both at the same time.
Mr. Setzer is an adequate singer but a remarkable guitarist and is at ease with a wide range of styles. It is this versatility that keeps "Ignition" from being much more than merely a new rockabilly album.
The best cut on the record — "Get 'Em on the Ropes" — is laced with the punk sound and calls to mind the Clash as much as the Stray Cats. Another highlight is the high-octane flamenco instrumental "Malaguena." There's a bit of doo-wop in the beautifully soulful "Dreamsville" and some salsa in "Santa Rose Rita." You'll also hear Mr. Setzer yodel in "8-Track," which, incidentally, borrows the guitar riff from the Commander Cody hit "Hot Rod Lincoln."
Out of place is "'59," a piece of nostalgia that sounds as though it was written for '80s pop radio. It's an OK song, but it lacks the energy and is not in the same affectionately derivative vein as the rest of the cuts.
The production is superb. "Ignition" sounds like it was recorded at a sound check, which gives the album a raw and intense feel that fits the songs perfectly.
If you're going to buy the album, you might as well buy a hot rod to go with it. Slip "Ignition" in the tape deck. Crank it up. When you hear the final frenzy of chords in "Malaguena," you'll be tempted to wreck your car just to get the full effect. —Brian Sink

The Best of Scorpions
(Mercury Records)
Mercury Records is promoting its 20th Century Masters collection of best-of releases as featuring "albums from the most significant music artists of the past century."
Don't believe everything you read in a press release. This series includes such forgettable artists as Tesla, Whitesnake, Cinderella, the Tubes, Rainbow and Night Ranger. It also includes the slightly less-forgettable Scorpions.
The Scorpions made a name for themselves out of Germany in the 1980s as a heavy-metal band a little more tuneful than most, with less emphasis than their peers on the hair and maekup. This collection includes the two bona-fide hits "No One Like You" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane."
Some of what's here — such as the band's other career highlights "The Zoo," "Big City Nights," "Loving You Sunday Morning" and the excellent metal ballad "Still Loving You" — ages fairly well. Also included is the minor '90s hit "Wind of Change," the Scorpions' homage to post-communist optimism.
Unfortunately, that's about all worth listening to for everyone but the most dedicated metal-heads, except perhaps for the inexplicable cover of the Who's "I Can't Explain," interesting only as an example of why metal bands should stick to their own material. —B.S.

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