Durocs

Durocs

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When the music biz discovered the new wave in the late 1970s, it had the unexpected but welcome side effect of making it OK for musicians to be goofy again -- after a decade of sounding earnest and mellow, bands were given carte blanche to get a little weird, and Durocs' 1979 debut is a grand example of an album that wouldn't have been made by a major label a few years earlier. Ron Nagle and Scott Mathews were a songwriting and production team who got signed to Capitol Records as artists and dubbed themselves Durocs (after a breed of pig with large ears and genitals); they were perfectly capable of writing straightforward pop tunes, but that's not all they had in mind. Embracing a production style that suggested a thick, updated variant on the expansive sound pioneered by Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, Nagle and Mathews were unafraid to put sincere affirmations of optimism like "One Day At A Time" and "Don't Let The Dream Die" next to cheerful celebrations of lust like "Hog Wild," tongue in cheek paeans to love such as ""We Go Good Together," and a tribute to the joys and perils of being a drunken oaf in "No Fool No Fun." Nagle and Mathews' wit is clever throughout, and the grand-scale sound of the album (produced by Nagle and Mathews with an assist from Elliot Mazer) is unapologetically bold, and rich, the sonic equivalent of a porterhouse steak, filled with plenty of nods to the past (especially the sax solos from Steve Douglas) while sounding contemporary. And the Durocs were savvy performers as well as capable studio hands; their cover of "It Hurts To Be In Love" comes within a nose of beating Gene Pitney's original for sheer melodrama, the assault on phony spiritual enlightenment "Seeker (You Be Sucker)" cuts the funk sharp and clean, and album closer "Saving It All Up For Larry" is a masterpiece, a miniature epic in which a jaded cad attempts to persuade a sweet young thing that fidelity is a fool's game. Durocs proved to be Nagle and Mathews' sole album as headliners, and if ever there was a one-shot band that deserved another turn at bat, it's these guys -- this is a pop triumph that's cheerful, inspired, and deranged, often at the same time.

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