Tommy Tutone

Tommy Tutone 2

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Tommy Tutone's self-titled debut album was the work of a fine, no-nonsense rock & roll band with an admirable lack of pretense, but their second album upped the ante with its lead-off track, "867-5309/Jenny," a deserved hit single and the sort of killer pop tune with a stick-in-the-ear chorus that plenty of bands would give their collective right arm to dream up. The song made Tommy Tutone stars for a little while, and Tommy Tutone 2 was a more ambitious album from a band that had done some serious roadwork during the year that separated the first two records. TT2's production is fuller, the arrangements are a bit showier, and the keyboards that sounded like an afterthought on the debut gives way to piano and organ lines that are grander and better integrated into the tunes. Lead singer Tom Heath is more confident and passionate, lead guitarist Jim Keller goes for a bigger sound without sinking into guitar hero mentality along the way, and the vague heartland rock influences on the debut have been given noticeably more space here. Tommy Tutone 2 is the work of a more capable and professional act with a genius single leading it off, but the trouble is, there aren't any other songs here that connect with the same force as "867-5309/Jenny." That's not to say the other tunes are bad, as they're not; "Why Baby Why" and "Baby It's Alright" are fine and heartfelt rockers, "Bernadiah" is a potent, soul-influenced number that suggests these guys should have focused a bit more on their R&B influences, and the rest of the tracks range from good to quite good. But the hit single had the unexpected effect of making the rest of the songs sound drab by comparison; overall, it's on a par with their likable debut, but "867-5309/Jenny" unwittingly makes it sound lopsided, an album with one big hit and ten other songs as a bonus.

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