The Lines tried hard to grab the brass ring, and despite the defection of their core (who went on to become the Drive and then changed direction to become the national band Swinging Steaks), Dirty Water is an admirable effort containing seven Eric Hafner originals, four covers, and a good song by keyboardist Rick Dahlinger entitled "Hold On." They've got the '80s stage look on the back cover, as well as decent packaging, but the project suffers due to attorney/manager Paul Carchidi doing the production work. Had they brought a top-flight producer onboard, things might've turned out differently for the hard-working band. Future name engineer Marc DeSisto (who worked with Pink Floyd, Melissa Etheridge, Patti Smith) is involved with the project, as is Aerosmith's Joe Perry, who was touring at the time with the third version of his Joe Perry Project, the band that recorded Once a Rocker Always a Rocker for MCA. The amusing thing is that Joe Perry Project lead singer Mach Bell had recorded a terrific version of the Standells classic for radio station WCOZ's The Best of the Boston Beat, Vol. 2 compilation three years earlier in 1981. The song, written by Standells producer Ed Cobb, became a bit of a Boston anthem where -- a decade after this album's release -- a local music store sponsored a marathon on the banks of the river Charles with guitarists performing the Dirty Water riff hour after hour after hour. The song is the centerpiece of this album, and Joe Perry's performance on it puts this disc in the history books. Outside of that, there's a decent version of Sonny & Cher's "The Beat Goes On," with the Lines continuing to imitate Split Enz, and a rearrangement of Sonny Bono's tune that works like their regional radio hit version of Olivia Newton-John's "Physical." The group was a cover act in the suburbs, so renditions of Slade's "Mama We're All Crazee Now" and Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" (also a regional hit), mixed in with the instrumental "Endless Summer," make the music of this band in transition somewhat interesting. It is worth noting that when Mach Bell and his Thundertrain did music by Noddy Holder, it was a nod to Slade. The Lines were part of the third generation of Boston rock and were a techno band acknowledging Quiet Riot, a significant point in this LP's history. The major drawback to this project, though, is the terribly thin production, which was equally the fault of Sound Design Studio, where the music was recorded, and the lack of a name producer. Aerosmith fans need this, however, and the "Slade appreciation society" may also find the Dirty Water LP worth adding to their collection.
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