Stop Me if You've Heard This Before

Stop, Drop and Roll (Warner Records)
Foxboro Hot Tubs

By Kevin Gibson

It's going to sound like I'm bashing the Foxboro Hot Tubs, but I'm not. Not really.

You see, the Hot Tubs are an alter-ego for Green Day it's a different creative outlet for Billie Joe Armstrong and his pals, or perhaps another way to sell t-shirts and other paraphernalia to their fans. Or perhaps FHT is just a diversion. I mean, how on earth does Green Day follow 2004's excellent American Idiot? One has to think that was the pinnacle for them, and I'm saying that as a Green Day fan from way back.

But Stop, Drop and Roll, well, it's no American Idiot. Oh, it's fun this is Green Day mimicking 1960s rock and pop, much the way it mimics the Ramones with its day job. It's energetic, it's raucous, it's accessible it's ear candy with a slightly different aesthetic. I absolutely love the way it sounds blaring from my speakers as I drive around with all the windows down. It has balls.

But the truth is, it's derivative to the point of distraction at times. You see, of the 14 tracks, I've pinpointed nearly half that sound like they could be direct lifts from 1960s hits and not even obscure hits, so I'm sure I'm even missing a few. The GD guys pay homage to the Kinks, the Who, even the Monkees, and that's just me listing a few obvious ones.

For instance, the dreamy pop number "Ruby Room"? That's "Tired of Waiting For You," courtesy of the Kinks, at least to my ears. And "Alligator"? [??????] Yeah, that's a direct lift of the main melody in the Monkees' "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone." A couple of these songs even sound a tad like the Hives, which really isn't far removed from very early Green Day recordings.

Sometimes the lifts are subtle; other times, not so much. But is it an artistic rip-off or just a rip-off? Hmmm. It's too obvious to be subconscious. Yeah, this is a deliberate tribute album without saying it's a tribute album. Has to be.

I mean, one could argue that it's just Green … uh, the Hot Tubs' way of bringing a classic form of rock to a new audience. I mean, I'm an apologist here, OK? I love power pop, and this falls squarely into the garage rock/power pop motif. Heck, I bet Steven van Zandt is sleeping with this CD and giving it the comfiest lawn chair in his Underground Garage.

So, what the heck, right? Spin it again, and crank up the speakers. What's an aging would-be punk-rocker to do? If you're going to sing for your supper, sing at a four-star restaurant instead of in the parking lot at Taco Bell.

Get more at foxborohottubs.net.