The Del Fuegos

Smoking in the Fields

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    6
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Abandoning both longtime producer Mitchell Froom, and label, Slash, the Del Fuegos' move to RCA was ultimately their last stand. While it plays more like a Dan Zanes solo album, complete with horns, strings, and guest spots from two members of the J.Geils Band, they made a valiant but only partially successful attempt to rebound from the slickness of Stand Up. Things sure get off to an energetic start with the Geils-sounding "Move With Me Sister," assisted by Magic Dick's over-driven harp, then move into Bruce Springsteen territory with the anthemic, we-gotta-get-outta-this-place sentiments of "Down In Allen's Mills." But the strings and background vocals of "I'm Inside You" show a disturbing attempt to sweeten the band's raw R&B/rock tendencies, similar to fellow-Bostonians Aerosmith ill-advisedly attempted. "Breakaway" takes a jangle rock page from Tom Petty's book with its singalong chorus, and "Stand By You" sounds too Dylan-ish for its own good. Individually, the songs and performances are fine, if a little derivative, but overall the band seems to be going for that elusive hit. As in the past, the production reigns them in and dilutes their garage sound. Zanes is in fine form with ragged voice throughout, yet this album remains a blueprint for how these generally well-written tunes probably sounded live in a smoky club, the band's natural habitat. A little too constricted and calculated, Smoking In The Fields never achieved the radio play they (or their new label) desperately wanted and needed. They broke up soon afterward.

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