Earth Quake

Sittin' in the Middle of Madness: Anthology

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Sittin' in the Middle of Madness is a decent 20-track collection that rounds up the cream of '70s rockers Earth Quake's crop of releases for Beserkley. The disc features songs from the four albums they released between 1975-1978 as well as some songs from singles. At their best, Earth Quake sounded like a supercharged power pop group with cascading harmonies and ringing guitars. Tunes like "Hit the Floor" and "Don't Wanna Go Back" are right up there with Shoes or the Rubinoos for pure catchiness. Where the band falters is when they try to rock. Tracks like "Savin' My Love," with its terrible and overly long guitar solos, and their incredibly overblown take on Paul Revere & the Raiders' "Kicks" are weak and uncomfortably close to Spinal Tap territory. Also, the harder the band tries, the more frequently singer John Doukas pushes his voice into a strained croak that sounds like a bad Brian Johnston impersonation. Add to this the band's seeming over-reliance on cover versions -- one-third of the record is covers. Which would be fine if the band was a great covers band, but while the choices of songs are interesting -- like Hot Chocolate's "Emma," the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier," and the Velvet Underground's "Head Held High" -- the band's performances are less than inspired. They really don't bring anything new to any of the songs they tackle. Better to stick to the sweet power pop sound they seemed to be able to tap into from time to time. As this disc shows, Earth Quake were hardly an essential band, but if you are willing to ignore the half of the disc that is not too exciting, there are some good songs here for power pop aficionados.

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