Never Had So Much Fun

Never Had A Clue

The Tymes Band (DSL)

By Jim Conway

What we have here is a darn good excuse for a party. Equipped with a cookin' horn section, The Tymes Band would make the perfect addition to any multi-kegger, (togas optional, of course.). Never Had A Clue rocks from one sweaty soul-tinged groove to the next with a confidence of nine guys who don't understand what it means to `Midi In' your sample. And I guess that's what stands out about this disc: rhythm-and-blues performed as if it were not likely to be heard again, at least in this millennium. "Where's The Pop?" asks why today's music "sounds more like whining than Rock `n Roll," which, by comparison, makes even the disco years sound pretty good in retrospect. It's the question behind all of Never Had a Clue.

But with apologies to David Byrne, this ain't no disco. No, the soul runs deep in Never Had A Clue's still waters. Instrumentally, these guys check in with "R & W," which creates an effortless fusion of brass and jazz with the rock sensibility Chicago used to deliver back in 1972. "Tongue Tied," anchored around Herschel Jones's exceptional bass riffing, tells of a high schooler's fixation on his female teacher, and, quite amusingly, has the cojones say that "you might even pass / But are you starin' at the board / or checkin out my ass?" Their cover of the Tower of Power classic "So Very Hard To Go" pays tribute to the Memphis rhythm-and-blues king Al Green with a passionate, Anglo-soul vocal delivery, courtesy of Wayne Hundley. The arrangements take a surprising key shift for the chorus and tend to take the performance where the listener doesn't expect it to go. That could also be said about the coup-de-gras of this collection, "Mama Never Had A Clue." It is a little soul chestnut that sounds like a reverent homage to the original Anglo-soul man Wayne Cochran. Cuts like this always comes as a pleasant surprise, especially when you uncover it on a CD of Louisville area dues-payers like The Tymes Band. In fact, Hundley, with co-lead vocalist Alan Watson, provides a killer one-two punch that makes this outfit a force to be considered as a creative entity and not simply a cover band trying to do their own thing.

So, go on, check these guys out a Jim Porters or Caesar's. Just try to behave yourself, have a designated driver, and when The Tymes Band is on, remember it's always a darn good excuse for a party, toga or not.