That's the Stuff

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With their second full-length album, 1985's That's the Stuff, Autograph arguably achieved the impossible: dumbing down the glossy glam rock formula premiered in their debut and, if you can imagine it, actually underestimating their audience in the process. Yes, believe it or not, even the lowest common denominator music consumer seemed to lose interest in a nifty (cough!) song title like "Blondes in Black Cars" after being beaten over the head by it for the 50th time, boys. No matter how you slice it, the inescapable truth was that That's the Stuff generally offered an even blander, less inspired version of the SoCal hair metal scene's blandest surprise hitmakers of a year prior; with track after mind-numbing track gliding by beneath heaps of staid keyboard phrases, mounds of limp-wristed guitar riffs and, most baffling of all, the false advertising of drummer Keni Richards, who, despite looking like Animal from the Muppet Show, sounded like a docile drum machine. Sifting through the rubble, one finds the almost laughably titled "Take No Prisoners" (an unsuccessful attempt to replicate the previous year's breakout hit, "Turn Up the Radio") the requisite power ballad in "Changing Hands" (which amazingly lacks enough emotion to make even pre-teen girls swoon), and the particularly coma-inducing title track, which starts making Quiet Riot's also legendary sophomore slump look like a decent day at the office, after all. What's more, Autograph's dull cover of Grand Funk's "We're an American Band" barely registers a pulse, Steve Lynch's solo guitar piece, "Hammerhead," serves to prove how tame and underutilized he is throughout, and the album's only semi-energetic cuts, "Crazy World" and "Built for Speed," arrive too little too late. In sum, if predictability and lowered expectations could be shaped into a black hunk of plastic with a hole in the center, well than this is the stuff!

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