Al Anderson

Party Favors

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Al Anderson's second solo album, 1988's Party Favors, was recorded during a period when Anderson began focusing more of his energies on writing material that wouldn't necessarily find its way into NRBQ's repertoire (he left the band five years after this was cut), which might have something to do with why this disc sounds so much like a set of songwriter's demos. Though Tom Ardolino plays drums on a few cuts, and John Sebastian sits in on "Nobody Else Will Do," Anderson handled most of the instrumental chores on Party Favors, and the clanky late-'80s drum machines and slightly wheezy synthesizers that mar many of the tracks suggest this album was cut fast and cheap. Despite that, Anderson's guitar work is excellent throughout and his vocals are admirably enthusiastic, and while some of the songs are a good bit less playful than one might expect (most notably the romantic "I Could Do This All Night" and the sexy "If You Get Your Wish"), most of this finds Big Al doing what he does best, playing rowdy roadhouse-friendly rock & roll. However, without musicians of the caliber of NRBQ or the crew he used on Pay Before You Pump backing him up, Party Favors lacks the punch to really get the party started, and at only nine tunes this disc seems to end before it can hit fourth gear. Fans and completists will enjoy it, but this is easily the least of Anderson's solo efforts to date.

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