Little Caesar

Influence

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Geffen records had banked on Little Caesar's instant success (totally forgetting the early-'90s maxim for commercial acceptance: good looks -- which the crusty, tattooed band clearly lacked), so when their first album failed to meet expectations, the Los Angeles quintet was automatically relegated to the label's promotional equivalent of the fast track to oblivion. In other words, they were screwed. Knowing they were living on borrowed time, the group quickly got to work on their second album in early '92 with producer Howard Benson and a high-profile new recruit in veteran guitarist Earl Slick. Less willing to bargain with their future, they toned down what little fluff had managed to sneak onto their debut (the somewhat forced Motown angle) and focused on their overwhelming '70s hard rock influences (see album title Influence -- get it?). As such, "Turn My World Around" is pure Bad Company, and "Rum and Coke" and "Slow Ride" show traces of early Montrose. Other tracks, like "Ballad of Johnny" (the album's only softer moment), "Ridin' On" (reportedly written about a fellow biker's untimely demise), and first single "Stand Up" suffer from the expected lyrical clich├ęs, but are still generally kept afloat by lead singer Ron Young's impassioned delivery. Fans expecting a retread of the first album's AC/DC jamming with Ray Charles philosophy might be somewhat disappointed by Influence's straightforwardness, but all in all, this is another solid, if unspectacular, outing.

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