More Good Stuff From Motown

Senor Smoke (WEA)
Electric Six

By Kory Wilcoxson

Detroit has given us quite a spectrum of musicality, from Motown to Eminem to the Trash Brats. You can add Electric Six to that eclectic mix. The band made some noise with their 2003 debut "Fire" and the novelty hit "Gay Bar." After an almost complete overhaul (only lead singer Dick Valentine stuck around), E6 faces the task of living up to the hype created by their fleeting success.

They don't quite make it, but not for a lack of trying. Senor Smoke is weird and wonderful and frustrating. The weird part comes from E6's blend of disco and scary rock - it's like the Bee Gees with eyebrow rings. "Be My Dark Angel" sounds like Rob Zombie getting his groove on; "Jimmy Carter" makes you think it's an earnest rock ballad, until you realize Valentine is singing about Harry Truman and the Backstreet Boys and Jesus' second coming. Huh?

The wonderful parts are the songs that capture the musical synergy the band sometimes generates. "Dance Epidemic" is disco-rock at its most engaging, vibrating with a beat driven by funky guitars and Valentine's Sunshine-Band-on-Speed delivery. "Rock and Roll Evacuation" is top-notch, brimming with a level of rebelliousness and anarchy sadly missing from music today: "Mr. President make a little money/Sending people you don't know to Iraq / Mr. President I don't like you/You don't know how to rock!"

The frustrating part? Throwaway interludes and nonsense tracks like "Room Temperature." If there's a joke here, it's lost and such filler clouds the luster on an otherwise above-average album. If you don't mind wading through some muck, "Senor Smoke" has several windows-down, radio cranking summer tunes.