The Fleshtones

Hexbreaker!

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The Fleshtones' second album for I.R.S. felt like something of a disappointment after the grand slam of 1982's Roman Gods; in time-honored sophomore-slump fashion, Hexbreaker didn't have as many immediately great songs as Roman Gods, and the 11 tunes didn't cohere into an impressive whole quite the way they did on the earlier set. But if Hexbreaker was light on instant classics, there's no shortage of good material here, especially the R&B-influenced burner "Right Side of a Good Thing," the fervent anti-religion screed "Burning Hell," the frantic "What's So New (About You)," and the good and groovin' title track. And give this LP a few spins and you'll discover the Fleshtones sound noticeably tighter and more emphatic here than they did on Roman Gods; singer Peter Zaremba knows the secret formula that fuses power and cool, Keith Streng's guitar work makes room for all sorts of righteous rock & roll noise, drummer Bill Milhizer lays down an indefatigable backbeat no matter what's going on, and Jan Marek Pakulski's bass keeps the low end lively throughout. While most bands on the budding garage revival scene were content to resurrect the sounds and styles of the past, on Hexbreaker, the Fleshtones brought together past and present and turned it all into a wild party where everyone was invited. Hexbreaker isn't as good as Roman Gods, just like Road to Ruin isn't as good as Rocket to Russia; that doesn't mean you won't want to hear either or both when you're looking for some quality rock & roll kicks, and Hexbreaker wails long and loud enough to make anyone who knows what's what jump and shout.

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