Here's a common theme in rock music: a musician or group goes through an intensely trying experience (drug addiction or shallow stardom, for instance) and either: a) constantly wallows in brackish self pity about it, b) becomes blatantly righteous and makes appearances on Oprah, or c) writes brilliant, cohesive music that describes a tale of descent and redemption. Choose (c) and you'll get Love is a Gas from Paul K & the Weathermen.
Detroit native Paul K (or Kopasz, for long) is a former drug addict whose songs on Love – his eighth release – contain a theme of transformation. Some of the works are bitter, some aren't. But throughout the entire recording he seems to build toward a religious gratitude for all the changes he's gone through. What's even more amazing is that he doesn't get preachy about it like a militant 12-stepper.
The selections on Love range from the dangerous, near-depressing "Another Night on This Earth," with a growling Hammond organ running beneath the melody, to the straight-ahead, uplifting rock in "Manna." In between is plenty of superb stuff.
The Motown-ish "David Ruffin's Tears" is sung in the persona of the late songwriter and singer with the Temptations, who claims he "wrote the secret history of the 1970s" before it even happened and feels guilty that he remembers only the music, parties, girls, and fun while friends got hooked on dope and his home city of Detroit burned during the 1967 race riots.
Paul K edges into heavy metal with "Deep Freeze," a song about retaining all the good things in his life as they are, while facing the fear they all may vanish if he chooses to return to his addictions. But it sweetly segues into his cover of Stevie Wonder's "Jesus Children of America," providing a reassurance of redemption and peace.
Love rounds out with the trippy title track "Love is a Gas," and, as a bonus track, Paul K's touching cover of the Queen hit "You're My Best Friend." It features Paul singing while he lightly strums his electric guitar. Its sincerity and optimism completes a recording that takes us on a dark journey through a man's addictions and his ultimate transformation.