21st Century

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One of two rival Rubettes on the streets right now, and properly known as the Rubettes Featuring Bill Hurd, the Rubettes of 21st Century are worthy successors to the sugar baby lovers of 35 years before. A solid one-two punch of great rock & roll music, laden with the band's trademark harmonies, it's a winning combination even before the band dips into their own oldies catalog for reprises of "Tonight," "I Can Do It," and, of course, "Sugar Baby Love" -- the record that started it all. The opening title track, in fact, is as good as anything the band ever recorded, an affectionate look back at youth, seen through the knowledge that it's only our bodies that age. Our love of the music remains as young as ever. Some intriguing covers emerge -- "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" starts out with a harmony that could have been lifted from Mud's "Rocket," while a latter day Chinn & Chapman number, Exile's "Kiss You All Over" is reprised with a lot more enthusiasm than its original performers mustered. A clutch of Hurd originals are equally gripping, and the overall package is one of the rarest beasts on earth, a vintage band regrouped around a fraction of its original membership, cutting a record that's as good as the ones they used to make. Just don't forget to put on your beret. You'll need it.

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