Pugsley Munion

Just Like You

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There are any number of intriguing curios and lost treasures from the late '60s and early '70s, and Gear Fab has had a knack for finding some of the rarest and finest among them -- or at least ones that have retained a degree of listenability or charm -- but this CD is just not one of them. It's difficult to even understand what a record company might have seen in Pugsley Munion back when Just Like You was released in 1970, since it's barely more than competent. It certainly hasn't aged too gracefully. For one, it's not even a fully fleshed out album, featuring a rough mix and practice-like performances from the band. Musically, there's a little bit of excitement here and there: the good-time boogie rock and irresistible go-go bass groove of "Second Time for Me," the guitar-riff hook of "Take My Soul," and the stellar drum opening and nice guitar work of "Trouble" and "I Don't Know Who to Blame" are all proof that, with a strong vocalist and good writing, Pugsley Munion might have made some music worth remembering. Unfortunately, neither of those things is in evidence here, and even when a song is onto something, it's rarely completely composed or sustained more than a few bars. Other than those few spots of excitement, the songs are unimaginative, derivative, and pedestrian hard rock built off the usual blues changes, with all the sincerity and volume of the form but without the least bit of melodic ingenuity or technical facility. The band may have aspired to Zeppelin-esque heights, but mostly they just sound flat and tired, with leftover and reused Doors organ riffs. Even worse is John Schuller's earsplitting, frequently tuneless (or downright tone-deaf) wail, which even makes Robert Plant sound subtle and nuanced in comparison. It truly makes Just Like You a painful listening experience. Drummer Ed Kelly consistently shows himself to be the band's single artistic high point with his deft and often inspired playing, but he just isn't given the material or space in which to shine. Guitarist Ducky Belliveau also shows some psychedelic flashes of ignition, while the others are capable enough players, but matching capability with lackluster music only makes for mere competence, which is almost always banal. While '60s and early-'70s fetishists will indubitably find some interesting passages to hold onto, by and large, this is one that might have been better left in the can.

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