Nervous Eaters is a very good record on its own. That producer Harry Maslin did not know what to do with the band is an understatement. "By Yourself," the second track on their 1980 debut, is exquisite pop/rock by a band that wrote a classic underground riff rock anthem, "Degenerate," not on this recording. The fan base in Boston that launched "Dream On" for Aerosmith never had the opportunity to get behind the Nervous Eaters' Elektra debut. Sure, Steve Cataldo authored all the songs, and rumor has it, he gave up the gig as guitarist for Lou Reed to do this record. Rumor also has it that Ric Ocasek of the Cars produced a ten-song demo that got the ear of Elektra. The Eaters were managed by former Cars manager Fred Lewis. "No Sleep Tonight" is closer to Sire artist the Paley Brothers, and Jonathan Paley joined the band in time for this album. His brother, producer Andy Paley, who put Madonna on the Dick Tracy soundtrack, guest stars here, as does Rolling Stones' keyboard player, the late Nicky Hopkins, and legendary guitarist Steve Cropper on the song "No Time." This is an amazing example of a band honing its craft in the trenches of a regional music scene, and doing an about face for their record label and producer. That they pulled it off musically is a testament to the skills of drummer Jeff Wilkinson and bassist Robb Skeen along with Paley and the great rock & roll voice of Steve Cataldo. Their classic "mellow" tune, "Last Chance," gets sped up by Maslin. It is OK, but nowhere near the majesty of the demo tapes that got the band attention in the first place. "Loretta," "Get Stuffed," and "Girl Next Door" are R-rated and lovingly sexist. But the Eaters' people knew and loved were a gritty, down and dirty Boston band. Cataldo's jangly guitar is not up in the mix enough, his wonderful axe underlines buoy the songs, but are downplayed. They were the Rolling Stones of Boston, and this album sounds like the group trying to be -- The Eagles, or, dare it be said, the Hollies. The hard rocking, riff-blasting, tongue-in-cheek rock band created a long-player with tunes that fall somewhere between the Ronettes and the Four Seasons. When you expect a band to crunch with the enthusiasm of Mott the Hoople and hear pure pop, it is culture shock. This album is kind of like dressing Charles Manson up like Mother Theresa. The pervert lyrics that made them famous regionally are replaced by something else. The verdict on the album? Surprisingly, like Farrenheit, released on Warners in 1987, the disc works despite being a slight misrepresentation of the artist. It is still Steve Cataldo writing and singing "Walkout"; there are 12 songs from a prolific Boston artist.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione