Mojo Gurus

Shakin' in the Barn

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The evolution of the second-echelon hair metal band Roxx Gang into the neo-rockabilly band Mojo Gurus has reached its conclusion on Shakin' in the Barn, which will be some comfort to confused reviewers who have received copies of previous releases Mojo Gurus, Drinkin' T.N.T. and Smokin' Dynamite, and Hot Damn that continued to bear the name of Roxx Gang, although they were marketed ultimately as Mojo Gurus albums. Put simply, bandleader Kevin Steele gradually found it easier to get gigs in this roots rock guise than on the '80s nostalgia circuit, and when a New York showcase drew the interest of veteran producer Jack Douglas, the die was cast. Shakin' in the Barn repeats some earlier material -- five songs were heard previously on Hot Damn, and one of those is the old Roxx Gang tune "Race with the Devil," while "Who's Been Drivin' My Cadillac?" was on Drinkin' T.N.T. and Smokin' Dynamite -- but, with a distribution deal through Universal and Douglas' studio savvy, the new versions are considerably spiffed up. The effect of the transition is what you might expect if Mötley Crüe suddenly decided it wanted to be the Blasters -- the music is faster, simpler, and has more of a country twang, but it isn't that much different, really. The act just saves a lot of money on hair spray. Steele clearly has an affinity for the old Sun Records sound, and he has a lot of fun mugging his way through these songs. Mojo Gurus still aren't as accomplished as, say, Jason & the Scorchers at this sort of roots rock revivalism, but they may have found a way out of the stylistic box they were trapped in when hair metal went into decline.

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