Crabby Appleton's Rotten to the Core -- -- the title of which, no doubt, comes from lyrics once sung by the villainous Crabby Appleton character on the Tom Terrific cartoon show: "My name is Crabby Appleton/I'm rotten to the core" -- was released in October 1971. The band's second album, and last as a group, captures them reaching out to find a sound of their own, veering off into boogie rock and heavier Zeppelin-esque romps, twice removed from the plaintive power pop and conga-driven rock of their debut. Rousing barrelhouse piano and varied string instruments (mandolins and violins) are only one reason for the rollicking new direction. Once again, Michael Fennelly's proven songwriting skills and lead vocals remain the front-and-center attraction here. At times, his screechy, Robert Plant-style falsetto (especially on the single "My Little Lucy," retitled for release on the album as "Lucy") foreshadows the direction he would take on future solo albums. "It's So Hard" sounds like a gospel-influenced take on Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," with solid backing by the Blackberries (Clydie King, Oma Drake, and Jessica Smith). "Paper to Write On" sounds like it could be a track by the Flying Burrito Brothers. Like the self-titled debut (a better effort overall, though this one isn't bad), Rotten to the Core was reissued in 2002 by Collectors Choice .
AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas