Ralphy's C.D. Reviews

Review date 03-06-1999: Black Lab - C.D. Your body above me

US-citizens probably wonder why I would review a CD that's more than 1 1/2 year old. Well the story behind it is as follows. I got an e-mail from Jeff Wood, a student at the University of Texas, who commented on my review of the Goo Goo Dolls-CD "Dizzy up the girl" and because of this offered to send me a tape with some older stuff of the GGD's. I gladly took him up on his offer, which included to put some music from Black Lab (his favorite band along with Tonic) on the other side of the tape (Jeff , thanx again). Thus I got to know Black Lab, a band I (and probably most Europeans) had never heard of, so I thought I would write this review mostly for those unfamiliar with Black Lab in spite of the CD's age.

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Back to the topic at hand, Black Lab is a Bay area (that's the area around San Francisco, for non-Americans) band formed by vocalist/songwriter Paul Durham, who wanted a change in musical style from his former band Durham. As I gathered he wanted to play a bit more energetic, darker and up-tempo and tried this by recruiting guitarist Michael Belfer and bassist Geoff Stanfield. The drums on "Your body above me" were played by Michael Urbano, but he didn't become a regular member of the band. His place was taken by Bryan Head, but meanwhile he has left the band again, so they currently don't have a steady drummer. The cooperation led in October '97 to the release of Black Lab's debut CD "Your body above me".

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On the tape I received from Jeff 11 BL-songs are featured, the CD consists of 12 in all, but due to the bandwidth "Anything" could not be included. Their have been 3 single releases out of the album, respectively "Wash it away" (about taking a cleanse after a traumatic event), "Time Ago" (about Durham's first sexual experience) and finally "She loves me" (about insecurity in relations like the flowerpedals game 'She loves me, she loves me not, etc.'). None of them have been huge hits in the USA, but especially "Time ago" seems to have had a lot of airplay. I have to compliment the band (or record company) on their choice of singles, 'cause they represent some of the best music on the CD, but my personal favorite is "Gates of the country" about someone who gave up or had to give up his girlfriend, because quote "she is much better without me" unquote, a song according to Durham himself closest to his pre-Black Lab style. All in all the album and thus Black Lab is typical for good old American rock 'n' roll, which isn't apreciated enough over here in Europe. Albums like this are often being criticized here for being 'unoriginal'. That's maybe partly true, but why change a musical style that's been good (no, great) for the doubtful benefit of originality. I wish we would have more good rockbands like Black Lab over here, but they probably wouldn't last very long (at least without a big hit). To me Black Lab is a better than average band and dito album, so I rate it with a 7.0.

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