No Lack of Joy

By Kevin Gibson

A lesser band might have taken it personally when a generation of young punk rockers began making money hand over fist playing the same kind of music Too Much Joy had been making for ten years. Instead, the New York quartet merely uses the opportunity to make another joke.

Green Day is getting rich and "now we're playing in fern bars," lead singer Tim Quirk told the audience at Butchertown Pub April 13. At least, he consoled himself, fern bars "don't smell like urine."

Leave it to these veteran rockers, who have enjoyed their share of infamy over the years ( they were once sued by Bozo the Clown), to turn a negative into a positive. Certainly, the band's buzzing new album, ....Finally, is a strong positive in what seemed not so long ago to be a shark-infested sea of negatives.

Rewind to 1992 and the band's final album for Giant Records, Mutiny, which received little or no promotion and fell flat as a result. Soon, the band said "Adios" to Giant and began shopping its wares elsewhere, but the departure of bassist and charter member Sandy Smallens left the group with half a rhythm section and no recording contract.

"We went through some tough times," understated drummer/Kevin Bacon look-alike Tommy Vinton following the April 13 show.

But Too Much Joy survived - as did they're wit - and three years later, . . . Finally became a reality. Give some of the credit to Discovery records and new bassist William Wittman, an English chap who not only produced . . . Finally and Mutiny but also seemed perfectly at ease performing the group's jabbing "Long-Haired Guys from England" on Butchertown's tiny side stage.

TMJ played much of the new album and Quirk, doing his best squirming geek impersonation, turned up the promotional oven between every song, reminding the room that, oh yeah, there's a new TMJ album out.

Loyal fans were also pleasured by seismic takes on "Donna Everywhere," "King of Beers," a "Seasons in the Sun/Pop Music" medley, and a show-closing, sit-down version of the band's theme song, after which each member of TMJ left the stage one by one, as Jay Blumenfield's remote-powered guitar screeched on.

If the crowd wasn't huge, blame the three-year layoff and minimal (if any) local airplay. Quirk and company proved they haven't lost any of their energy or attitude.

Local boys Supafuzz opened the show as a replacement for the no-show Drovers. The 'Fuzz provided a new spin on the phrase "power trio" with their off-the-wall, supercharged set. That's an awfully big sound for just three guys.