Bill Janovitz's first two solo albums, Lonesome Billy and Up Here, saw him deliberately moving away from the hard and hooky rock that was his stock in trade in Buffalo Tom, but with that fine band on hiatus, Janovitz has decided to crank up the volume on his third solo set, Fireworks on TV!, recorded with the group Crown Victoria, and if the results aren't quite up to Buffalo Tom's level of rock juice, this is the sort of stuff that ought to make any of Bill's old-school fans smile with recognition. With sometimes-Buffalo Tom accompanist Phil Aiken on keyboards and Josh Lattanzi and Tom Polce manning the rhythm section, Fireworks on TV! is decisively a rock record, and while some of the tracks take a subtle approach (like "These Pictures" and "Mary Kay"), there's enough punch on "Florida," "Sinking" and "Believe" to confirm that Janovitz is still ready, willing and able to make with the rock, and the two versions of the title cut show he can even have it both ways when he feels like it. Just as importantly, Janovitz is singing and playing with the passion, soul and commitment that have always marked his very best work on Fireworks on TV!, and Crown Victoria give him just the support he needs; with most of the basic tracks cut in a mere three days, this material has a simple but powerful sound that makes the most of the tunes with the muscle and sweat clearly audible throughout. Whatever happens with Buffalo Tom, Fireworks on TV! offers vivid proof that Bill Janovitz is still an artist who matters, and his heart, soul and brain are all in sound working order when he chooses to step into the studio.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming