If the Sticky Fingers-era Rolling Stones had come from New York City, they might have sounded something like the Compulsions, judging from the six songs on their debut EP Laughter from Below. There's a lean, bluesy sway in this band's music and they've clearly learned a few lessons from listening to the blues, but there's no question vocalist Rob Carlyle is a product of the East Coast, and these tunes rattle with the menace of the New York subway at 4 A.M.. The Compulsions aren't afraid to hit hard, but while there's more hard rock in their music than anything else, they approach the stuff with a strut and swagger that recalls the New York Dolls, and their attitude comes straight out of punk rock, even if their music doesn't. "Down on the Streets" and "Shake Hands with the Devil" open this disc with a solid one-two rock & roll punch, "My Favorite Wine" is a bittersweet story of a busted romance, "Howlin' for You" boasts some killer harmonica work along with switchblade guitars, and "Turn It On" is a surprising bit of uptempo reggae that skanks as hard as the other tunes rock. For a debut recording, Laughter from Below sounds tight, intelligent, and confident throughout, and if there's a flaw here, it's that the Compulsions seem to be just getting started when these six tunes come to a close; if this is an indication of what they can do, next time out they should shoot for a full-length album.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming