Vodka Collins

Chemical Reaction

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Vodka Collins' first album following their 1995 reunion -- which, in turn, followed the long-awaited CD reissue of their 1972 debut album, Chemical Reaction, very much picked up where its predecessor left off, with a punchy reprise of their first incarnation's hit "Automatic Pilot." Almost immediately, however, it becomes apparent that (unlike so many other reunions) the past is to remain firmly in its place. The band retains the vivacious rock swagger and sharp, hook-laden sheen that was always theirs', and there is one more remake, a terrific new take on "Sands of Time." But from the pounding, riff-ripped celebration of "Billy Mars" to the rousing "Let's Get Drunk" and the shimmering finale "Terminal City," Chemical Reaction is a fiercely updated variation on every blueprint that the original group ever threatened to draw, shot through with a healthy refusal to fall into the revivalist trap. Indeed, play it alongside its 23-year-old predecessor and, though you might guess that it's the same band, there's more than a lifetime of experience and expertise dividing the two. In other words, a comeback that makes you forget there was anything to come back from. Stunning.

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