The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

Penthouse Tapes

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Anyone familiar with the work of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band knows the group had an intriguing penchant for performing odd cover versions from all different areas of popular music. This 1976 album allowed the group to give full vent to this obsession: three of the tracks are band originals, but the rest are a series of covers that hit everything from Irving Berlin to the Osmonds to Alice Cooper. The resulting album has a thrown-together feel that keeps if from cohering properly, but still manages to be a worthwhile listen thanks to a combination of spirited performances and interesting arrangements. The highlight of the band originals is"Jungle Jenny," a gender-switched Tarzan tale that sets lyrics about a lusty white goddess who drives the apes mad over a tune that mixes glam rock guitar with tribal drums. In terms of covers, the standout tracks include a moody mid-tempo take on Jethro Tull's "Love Story" and "Crazy Horses," which utilizes Harvey's larynx-shredding wail to bring out the apocalyptic overtones in this surprisingly hard-rocking Osmonds tune. The band also takes some surprisingly effective stabs at country rock with their boozy sing-along cover of "Gamblin' Bar Room Blues" and "Say You're Mine (Every Cowboy Song)," a Harvey original. A few of tracks come off as throwaways ("Runaway" is energetically performed but adds nothing to the tune), but this album is a solid listen overall for any fans of the Alex Harvey sound.

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