The Upper Crust

Once More into the Breeches

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Not ones to get their stockings in a twist over protracted dealings with the working class rabble rousers running their record company, the word's most privileged band, the Upper Crust, simply bided their time (i.e. by adding a little more powder to their wigs and beauty spots over their pancake makeup), until their antagonists capitulated (naturally), and cooperated in presenting ill-bred commoners everywhere with the group's long-awaited third album, 2002's Once More into the Breeches. Indeed, five years had transpired since the Upper Crust's second studio album, the perhaps prophetically named The Decline and Fall of the Upper Crust, which preceded a period of constant strife, finally culminating in fisticuffs and the expulsion of founding member Lord Rockingham. And, truth be told, although he was only one of three active songwriters, and despite the fact that AC/DC-inspired hard rock boogie is still the remaining quartet's primary bread and butter, there's a certain missing je ne sais quoi about Once More into the Breeches. Only a handful of tracks compare with earlier triumphs, where fist-pumping, head-banging, duck-walking rock & roll, is concerned, and the sheer comedic wit of their double-entendre-laden lyrics are also lacking in quite the same spunk, as it were. Among the notable exceptions, one finds stupendous opener "We're Finished with Finishing School," "Bleed Me," "Heirloom," and "Eureka -- I've Found Love," but, otherwise -- "Badminton," "Gourmet Love," most of the album's second half -- the Upper Crust appear to be lacking in inspiration. Or else they become distracted with mildly amusing, but ultimately unfulfilling stylistic departures such as the power pop nugget of "Paradise Lost," soul falsettos of "Concubine," and the Beatlesque whimsy of "Matron." Even more troubling, the "gentlemen" actually resort to vile profanity on forgettable rocker "Luncheon," then seem to forget their God-given, blue-blooded heritage on the tongue-in-cheek ballad "Everybody's Equal"! For shame, my lords, that's the sort of admission that sets revolutions into action and heads a-rolling! All kidding aside, although they've continue to tour sporadically since the release of Once More into the Breeches, it's perhaps no coincidence that the album's uneven material ushered in another extended recording hiatus for the Upper Crust.

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