Assorted Varmints 1989-1997 is a collection of 13 tracks by the Boston underground "supergroup," compiled by rock critic/Endora's Box Records label owner Nancy Foster in 2002. It's an impressive set of majestic, no-nonsense rock & roll tunes by former Real Kids guitarist Billy Borgioli, who handles most of the vocal and songwriting chores. For those who felt the Real Kids missed the mark, the answers can be found here. Borgioli is not only a better rock & roll singer than John Felice; he has some crunching rhythms that could have propelled the Real Kids to true stardom had Felice let a partnership blossom rather than make himself the focal point of the Kids. Listen to the undercurrent of "Dreamin'" or the punk angst inside "Ain't No Good," the track originally released in 1997 on Boston Rock & Roll Anthology, Vol. 20. "Ain't No Good" takes on corporate shoddiness, buying a product and taking it home only to find out it "ain't no good." Nine of the 13 tracks feature Classic Ruins driving force Frank Rowe adding his precision guitar (and lead vocal on "In This Town"). Borgioli/Rowe make a formidable pair leading a two-guitar attack that the rhythm section of Death in the Shopping Malls drummer Pete Taylor and Tea in China bassist Carl Biancucci complement perfectly. Biancucci's band was one of the first Boston acts Stones producer Jimmy Miller worked with in 1983 via his Johnny Thunders associations, and similar elements can be heard in Ducky Carlisle's production on the nine titles tracked at his Room 9 From Outer Space studio. The three songs from a live radio show (no date or call letters mentioned) feature a different lineup behind Borgioli: Chris Flavin on second guitar, Billy Daly on bass, and Matt Burns on drums. It still works, making it clear this is Billy Borgioli's vehicle and that the painter/guitarist has a vision beyond what the Real Kids tracked on their self-titled debut. For those who liked the heavy guitars of Reggae Reggae from that 1977 landmark outing, this music from a dozen years later expands that concept proving where the original group truly could have gone. Short guitar bursts and creative riffs à la the Kinks with solid drumming by Taylor and Burns across this disc help make Assorted Varmints shine. It is refined rock & roll by guys who do it because they have to.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione