Vodka Collins

Boys in the Band

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A relatively straightforward compilation of the three albums that Vodka Collins released following their mid-'90s reunion, Boys in the Band finds Japan's favorite glam rockers moving quickly away from their early-'70s sound, and at the same time keeping a finger firmly in that particular pie. Two tracks -- the opening "Automatic Pilot" and, later in the cycle, "Sands of Time" -- reprise hits from the first time around, while the closing burst of "I Love Rock'n'Roll," reawakens the greatest hit for vocalist Alan Merrill's other best-known band, the Arrows. Still it is the reluctance to remain hidebound to the band's past reputation that most firmly marks this album -- and which sends the listener out in search of the original LPs. The Bo Diddley beat of "Les Animaux de Partay," the churning riffola of "Billy Mars," the lazy blues of "Roppongi Roppongi" (imagine John Mellencamp relocated from the Midwest to the Far East) and the insistent title track all paint Vodka Collins as a brilliant successor, not a warmed-up reprise, to the original glam scene in all its past permutations. Indeed, had they not broken up in 1973, but powered on regardless down this direction, the group would assuredly have redefined a lot of what later passed as glam -- and, maybe, rewired half the revivals that we have endured since then.

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