Asa Brebner

I Walk the Streets

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The title track is a powerful statement of an urban rock & roller who has "walked the streets where my best friends died." Forty-eight minutes and fifty-one seconds of Johnny Thunders style rock -- without Thunders celebrated excesses. Much like Marianne Faithful's Broken English, this album is a rebirth for a survivor who honed his craft for decades on stages of major venues and in many a night club. Asa Brebner has played guitar in numerous Boston-based groups from Mickey Clean & the Mezz to the second great version of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, half of which evolved into Robin Lane & the Chartbusters. Utilizing eight different studios, mastered in a ninth, Jon Wyner's M-Works, where David Bowie's catalog was re-mastered for Ryko Disc, these are all Brebner originals with the exclusion of "Jacks on Drugs," written by Phil Hahnen. Ex-Archies -- you read that right -- on-stage anyway -- and Chartbuster colleague Scott Baerenwald of local legends Reddy Teddy plays bass and sings backing vocals on "Sunshine and Blue Skies," one of the many highlights on this disc, not coincidentally recorded at Ducky Carlisle's Room 9. Ducky was married to Robin Lane at the time of this recording although, sadly, she does not make an appearance. "Unhappy Birthday Girl" is the kind of song that Jonathan Richman used to craft for his fans; Richman would do well to listen to this disc by his former bandmate. Brebner gives his pop songs that roots rock foundation that made the early Rolling Stones so appealing, and it's evident in this track. "No Good for Anything But Love" has an effective riff augmented by vocals that make this no-nonsense rock & roll fans of the Modern Lovers have yearned to hear again, with a splashy appearance by the Heavy Metal Horns. The sound is surprisingly consistent for working in so many studios and employing so many musicians. "Love Only Makes the World Go Round" is very radio-friendly, and another of the picks on this CD. "Don't Ever Lose a Memory" brings that Thunders connection back -- Johnny Thunders having written the classic "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory." There's lots of heartache on this disc, culminating in the campy "Thru with Girls" which has mandolin, banjo, and acoustic guitar courtesy of Andrew Mazzone. It's back to business with "Sunshine Blue Skies," the production by Brebner and Mazzone is perfect, something that was lacking in the Robin Lane albums. There is a refinement here, a balance of the distortion of rock & roll and capturing it for the intended audience. "Jacks on Drugs" has that vintage Boston boom boom sound, while "I'm Not Going to Work Today," recorded in Brebner's attic with Allen Devine on vocals, is a country- style experiment where the artist gets to stretch. "Turn Back the Pages" has that Byrds sound so essential to the Chartbusters, wtih great drums by Andy Plaisted and a vocal by Andrew Mazzone on this Brebner original. "At Least Nobody Else Has Our Memories" is a country ballad with Brother Cleve on piano, Asa reminiscing again. The final tune, "Mr. Hide," returns to that Stones feel, with a wonderful keyboard fill on the chorus and a drone vocal by Brebner with wild guitars at the end, finally ending with an unnecessary reprise of "Thru with Girls" -- the eloquence of the last tune stifled somewhat by this. Regardless, this album should've been released on a major label as so many of Asa Brebner's other works were.

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