Artful Dodger

Artful Dodger

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Artful Dodger's self-titled 1975 debut album is high-quality power pop. Unfortunately, the quintet, which originally formed in Virginia, never even cracked the Billboard album charts with its four releases. Perhaps Artful Dodger was ahead of its time, considering that producer Jack Douglas wouldn't helm Cheap Trick's acclaimed debut for two more years. The band was probably most popular in Cleveland, where some songs still received regular rock radio airplay 25 years later. The fact that Artful Dodger and Honor Among Thieves were reissued on CD in 1997 by Pendulum Entertainment Group (through Sony Music) confirms that the band had a big enough cult following -- particularly in Cleveland -- to warrant dusting them off. "Wayside" is brilliant and it's a travesty that it wasn't a smash hit. Crispy, melodic guitar work from Gary Herrewig and Gary Cox, integral bass parts from Steve Cooper, effective drumming from Steve Brigida and superb vocals from Billy Paliselli add up to a great lost classic. "It's Over" and "Follow Me" slather on catchy vocals and electric and acoustic guitar parts. "Silver and Gold" manages to combine touches of blues, country, and pure pop into the power pop formula. "Waiting Place" is the most sophisticated song on the album from an arrangement standpoint and it often settles into a slow, funky groove. The relaxed rockabilly of "New York City" is a surprising but effective finale. The Artful Dodger CD reissue liner notes are virtually unreadable since they simply reproduce the original LP's back cover. The white lettering is faint and blurry. Reproducing the back cover was OK, but the credits should also have been re-typeset on the blank inside fold. Nevertheless, power pop fans owe it to themselves to seek out Artful Dodger, if only for "Wayside."

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