Mrs. Frazier

Mrs. Frazier (Hit-A-Note Records)

Format: Cassette

By Jim Powell

Do you remember the British Invasion of the 1960's? If you do, then you may remember that there were two very different veins of the invasion the cute and sweet vein of which Herman's Hermits and Gerry and the Pacemakers were typical and the darker side of the invasion that was represented by groups like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Who.

If you are a fan of the latter, then you will be happy to hear that the new Mrs. Frazier release has drawn heavily from that darker vein. In fact, Mrs. Frazier does an excellent cover of the Stones' "As Tears Go By."

However, I do not want to give the impression that this new release is just a rehash of the music of the early year of British rock 'n' roll. There are enough differences between the music of that era and this cassette to make it clear that Mrs. Frazier is exploring a musical style that was essentially bypassed during the furious musical advances fueled by the composing genius of Paul McCartney and John Lennon and their contemporaries.

Mrs. Frazier has included on this cassette songs that are quite contemporary in tone. They are minimalist, without much flash or extra digressions into extended leads indeed, there is no wasted motion in the music.

The rhythm section, composed of Kip McCabe on drums and percussion and Kenny Martin on bass, provide a pounding groove that will keep any listener moving to the beat. The mix also puts the drums very much out front and McCabe occasionally beats them with a furious thunder that harks all the way back to Gene Krupa's tom-toms.

Over this rhythm section, Shannon Burns and Brent Starkey play excellent guitar lines, again exploring the style of play of the early Brits.

Vocals are the weakest part of the album. The vocal range is limited and there is a lack of color in the articulation, but an ever-present sneer that recalls the early "Bad Boy" performances of Mick Jagger of the Stones and Roger Daltry of the Who seeps through.

Sneering is, of course, the easiest expression of the complex array of emotions that drives this music. Like its predecessor, Mrs. Frazier's lyrics are all about the anger and frustration of young people impatient with the way things are. That anger, which underlies all of these times, is essentially heartening, since it demonstrates that, for Mrs. Frazier at least, there is some hope for change.

All in all, this is an excellent and interesting effort. Fans of the band will not be disappointed and fans of the British bands would do well to give it a listen.

The cassette is available at Ear X-tacy Records.