Groovezilla

By Bob Bahr

Groovezilla is living, breathing proof that a funky, infectious groove is a state of mind more than a calculated musical exercise. The spirit of the groove lives strong in Search for Neverland, the most recent CD of the Lexington band.

The grooves carry the band heck, it's the whole reason Groovezilla exists. In fact, the individual parts of Groovezilla are less than shining; if you try to pin down what makes Groovezilla work, you'll soon find yourself mired in funky abstraction. It's as if the five-piece band set out to do just one thing and succeeded. Now the listener must decide if accomplishing one thing is good enough.

Groovezilla has melded Parliament vocals with hip-hop phrasing, armored it in heavy metal guitar crunch and plunked it on a funky horse for a ride. It works, especially on the effervescent "Our Time," the loose "Zilla Groove," and the biting "Stop the Drama." The attraction: the grooves, of course.

Impossibly, the ghost of Ten Years After seems to hover over "Everything All the Time" until the chorus switches the song from that to a theft of a dozen "greed sucks" tunes. Then, surprise! at the end is a wah-wah guitar outro, booting you out the time machine door somewhere over the plains of the late '60s. The opening cut, "Blind Eye," gives an unfair first impression, with its lifeless metal stomp. The barebones drumming is the only warning from "Blind Eye" that should be heeded; Groovezilla's drummer goes beyond the realm of safety on most songs, to a point rapidly approaching banality. But, in truth, Groovezilla is not about virtuosic technique. It's a G thang.

The hip-hop approach to working the crowd works better in this band than most hybrid groups, effective even in the living room. The use of a saxophone to beef up the mix is inspired and successful. turn up "Zilla Groove" extra loud and the appeal of Groovezilla's live show becomes understandable. It's the mix, not the ingredients.

Lyrically, Groovezilla charts a reasonable course, delving into social politics, environmentalism, individualism, love and generational pride. The choruses are hooky and the verses are often spilled in a deft rapping style. Perfect nightclub fodder, also suitable for light home listening.

Search for Neverland's rough local production makes it hard to take immediately following some smooth, major-label model. So don't do it. Put this disc on when the party gets serious. You can bet the ranch that Groovezilla in full effect is groovy. They've put their good name on it.