RTZ

Lost

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The release of the 11-track Lost album by Return to Zero on the Japanese Avalon label in 2000 found U.S. domestic re-release in 2005 on keyboard player Brian Maes' own Briola Records, with the exotic and very artsy Ron Pownall cover on the import replaced by drummer David Stefanelli's more subdued graphics and the disc retitled Lost in America by RTZ. It's terrific. Following the RTZ debut album and tour, the arena rockers recorded this material in Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau's basement, with Goudreau replacing Chris Lord-Alge as engineer/producer. The bandmembers embrace this sudden freedom of expression by dipping into a variety of pop bags that suit them very well. "Violent Days" is a sublime R.E.M.-style light rocker with a hook that won't quit. The enormous talents of Brad Delp have always been restrained in the confines of the Boston project -- his solo recordings along with his uncanny ability to sing the parts of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in his Beatles tribute, Beatlejuice, are evidence of his creative spark, perhaps the most underrated major star in Boston (the city). "Turn This Love Around" is certainly a strange title for a band that hit the Billboard Top 40 with Brian Maes' "Until Your Love Comes Back Around," this unique and different composition written by Delp, Goudreau, and drummer Dave Stefanelli. It's a majestic Brit-pop episode resplendent in George Harrison-style guitars. "One in a Million," with its '50s flavors, could easily have fit on Robert Plant's Honeydrippers project. OK, maybe RTZ have more of a modern edge, so they take that vintage R&B and bring it to the end of the century. "Change for Change" could be a long-lost sequel to 1989's "Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears -- plenty of "I Am the Walrus" flavors to go round -- while the slick structure of the opening track, "When You Love Someone," leans more toward Jefferson Starship or, dare it be suggested, Orion the Hunter by way of Bryan Adams. It's a melting pot of styles culminating in a nod to, of all people, Eric Carmen's Raspberries on "Dangerous," concluding the album with a driving pop sound good for cruising around with the convertible top down. The frivolity is welcome, as this essential follow-up has a much more relaxed feel than its predecessor. The balance brought by way of the light atmosphere does not in any way inhibit the Byrds-meets-Traveling Wilburys folk-rocker "Don't Lead Me On" from succinctly offering some of the CD's best moments and reiterating them in one song. It's one of the rare moments when Uncle Irving let one get away, and that's a pity. Much of this album deserves to be played over and over again on the radio.

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