Mike Viola

Let's Get Serious

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In 1996, Candy Butchers made their recording debut with the EP Live at la BonBonniere, intended to be the curtain raiser to their self-titled debut album. But then their label, Blue Thumb, was deep-sixed, and the full-length studio CD never appeared. Three years later, with lead singer Mike Viola (for whom the band name is really just a pseudonym) now billing himself before the group, they return on another label, Danny Bennett's RPM imprint, distributed by Columbia/Sony, with another EP intended to whet the appetite for another forthcoming debut LP, Fall into Place. Let's Get Serious begins with two tracks slated for that disc, "Killing Floor" (a Viola original, not the blues song) and "Fall into Place" itself. These heavily produced pop/rock tracks show Viola and the Candy Butchers progressing somewhat from the sound of their unreleased album, which betrayed the influence of the Beatles circa 1965. These tracks suggest the Beatles circa 1966, with a distinct Revolver vibe. It's not as though Viola doesn't acknowledge his debt. On the EP's front cover, a headless dummy models one of the Beatles' old collarless grey suits, and on the back cover, Viola is shown wearing it. On the remaining four tracks, however, he tries different styles, taking a progressive rock stance on "What Will You Do with Your Hands" and giving "I Want You to Come Home" an early Bob Dylan arrangement of harmonica and acoustic guitar, even though his vocal sounds more like Graham Parker. The non-LP tracks are less produced and quirkier, with the highly personal "Happy Birthday Risbee" even ending in an answering machine message. With any luck, Fall into Place really will come forth, unlike its predecessor, and Let's Get Serious will prove an appetizer to it.