Willie "Loco" Alexander & the Confessions

A Girl Like You

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Electro Acoustic Studios moved from the ambience of Boston's theater district (the drag queens would reportedly have knife fights outside this space across from where the famous Coconut Grove fire happened), the facility where the previous Solo Loco masterpiece was etched, way up to Bethel, ME, a studio in transition changing dramatically the sound of an artist in transition. If Solo Loco was vindication, the artist in complete control after losing his band and MCA contract, A Girl Like You is a trip deeper into the mind of this creative artist, further into the insightful ramblings of Willie Loco's psyche while he was assembling his new group. Commercial music this is not, though it reunites Alexander with Walter Powers, who was with the singer/songwriter when they performed in the Velvet Underground. Alexander downplays that part of his career, though he should be proud of it now; the tragedy was that the Velvets didn't pull a Doobie Brothers, allowing Willie Alexander's material to shift the course of the group the way Michael MacDonald gave that institution a new direction. Alexander is the beatnik to Lou Reed's street poet. Where Alexander gave us the wonderfully eerie "Video Games" on this 1982 disc, Reed countered with "My Red Joystick" in 1984, with Alexander drawing from his Kerouac obsessions and Reed coming from the school of Delmore Schwartz; it's too bad Reed and Alexander didn't team up and push the manager Sesnick out the door, the pairing would have been pure magic. And at the very least they could have played together at the arcade. John Dunton-Downer adds bizarre tenor saxophone, and the brilliant guitar work is from the late Matthew MacKenzie. The odd thing here is that when the Boom Boom Band and Willie Alexander went their separate ways, there was still a third album due on the MCA contract. Matthew MacKenzie fronted the Boom Boom Band and tracked tapes with producer Craig Leon while Leon produced four sides with solo Alexander as well. The shame of it is that they should have brought MacKenzie into the original Boom Boom Band to keep the peace, and much of this could have been the third MCA album. "Dock of the Bay" is fun, but it doesn't have the manic intensity of "Be Bop a Lula" from Solo Loco, or the effect the live Boom Boom rendition of "All I Have to Do Is Dream" had on audiences. "Great Balls of Fire," on the other hand, delivers what Loco's fans expect in a more subdued fashion. A Girl Like You works best when it plays exotic rock; "Bite the Bullet" is underground techno that is the antithesis of the Human League. Dedicated to Thelonious Monk, A Girl Like You is another reason why the great Genya Ravan will make comments like, "I think Willie is the best thing since sliced bread." "The Only Time" is Alexander's reinvention of the blues, while "Oh, Daddy, Oh" would've played relentless on Maynard G. Krebs' transistor had the song been around during the Dobie Gillis era. New Rose labelmates the Troggs caused a stir with A Girl Like You and Alexander takes the concept a step further. Not his most accessible album, but an important link in his deep and valuable catalog.

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