It's The Law
Murphy's Law

Format: Cassette

By Bob Bahr

It gets my toes tappin'. It gets my belly shakin'. It gets my mouth hummin'. Maybe Murphy's Law's new effort It's the Law ain't the highest caliber rhythm & blues. But I've always heard that if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. And It's the Law walks, looks and quacks like a bona fide R&B record.

It's a mistake to analyze this band and this tape, because the proof is in the casual listening. It's the Law is likeable. It's fun. Its heart is in the right place and its beat is in the right place. And Murphy's Law's version of Billy Lee Riley's "Red Hot" is classic always, ALWAYS, welcome in my tape player. Mike Murphy's vocals are emphatic and comfortable, with perfect intonation demonstrated even better in the Law's version of Chuck Berry's "Nadine."

Murphy's Law puts the right coating over Otis Rush's "All the Lovin'," dark, easy and faintly sinister. The double timing in the middle gives the song added punch and interest.

The Law shows serious chutzpah in tackling Charles Mingus; "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," circling the melody carefully like a cat around a porcupine for several choruses before finally attacking with sax and guitar solos. Murphy's sax solo shows more facility and instrumental command than John Burgard's guitar solo. Both solos show signs of cliches and repetition, but, remember, this is not a record to analyze.

"Bond" closes side one with soulful vocals from Murphy and lively instrumental work from the rest of Murphy's Law. Buffy St. Marie's "Bond" gets "a little bit softer now" towards the end, disappearing into silence before riding an organ back to volume. I yawn.

"Nyquil Blues" starts side two out with black comedy in blues clothes. How can you not like a blues song that wails "Analgesic decongestant / With an antihistamine?" This is no mere novelty song, either. Novelty songs don't wear well, but "Nyquil Blues" is great incentive to flip the tape to side two. "Jut get me a roll of duct tape / And a case of Nyquil please."

John Burgard is featured vocalist on his own "Found a New Love," sounding remotely Bob Weir-like in a thin, earnest voice that's a refreshing break. Jimmy Reed's "Take Out Some Insurance" gets excellent treatment, and Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar" provides another instrumental venture.

The production and mixing on It's the Law is excellent. Jimmy Brown's bass and Steve Inman's drums are a professional backbone for Murphy and Burgard's front work. There's much to like on It's the Law. And we in Louisville are lucky enough to be able to see these guys live. After hearing this album, seeing Murphy's Law isn't just one of many weekend options; it's the law.