FAME Review: The Bacon Brothers - Philadelphia Road: Best of
The Bacon Brothers - Philadelphia Road: Best of

Philadelphia Road

Best of
The Bacon Brothers

Hypertension Records - HYP 11281

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.

I'm only human, I come to find out. When I first heard about this album, I wanted nothing to do with it. Like Kevin Bacon needs my help or opinion, right? He can buy and sell me a few million times, easily. So he plays music. Can't be worth a shit. Like athletes, musicians are a one-sport thing, right? Says right on the one-sheet (the promotional bio) "While still encountering critics due to Kevin's onscreen notoriety", meaning Kevin Bacon is suspect as a musician or anything else now that he's made it in films. Put together everything I've just typed and you would think that I would either refuse to write this review or would be ready to tear Kevin a new asshole. Right?

I have to be honest and say that that was indeed my first reaction when I received the album. Of course, I don't tear new assholes anymore. I just refuse to write about the music I don't care for or, in many cases, do not like at all for one reason or another. But here is not only the problem, it is the reason I am writing this: I like this. Well, parts of it, and that's enough.

If I was writing out of Hollywood, I would say "You had me at Unhappy Birthday for it is not only a decent track but a damn good one. I was frankly shocked at the depth of tone and the sensitivity of the song, but mostly at the quality of the voices. Supported by a solid bedrock of what could easily be The Beatles, thanks to a rolling McCartney-like bass and Lennon-like brassiness to the guitar, the song starts slow and builds to anthemic chorus worthy of a whole slew of top-flight bands I could name but won't because of their major-label-ness (I hate the major labels, you see and have the attitude toward them that others do toward The Bacons, as discussed above). Throw in a superb job of production (hence, that depth) and I have found myself returning to this song fairly regularly, which is about as regular as I can get with the amount of albums I have to listen to for review. What can I say? Good is good and there is something here which tells me this is good.

Unlike Unhappy Birthday, the Brothers don't hit on all cylinders on all songs all the time, but they do enough to make this an album worth picking up. They serve up light and what I would label somewhat lacking offerings like Old Guitars and Guess Again and Boys In Bars, though I would even consider them worthy if I cared a lick about Jimmy Buffett at all, but I never got the guy's music or popularity (I don't mind the guy, but I've heard him so much that if I ever have to hear another Buffett song, he can get drunk and screw himself). Those songs are just too light for my taste and, truth be told, lack hooks. Good thing for the Bacons that they give us plenty of hooks elsewhere on the album.

As for the songs worth hearing, they are somewhat plentiful. July Away once again has that depth to the production, a full spectrum of bass to treble and melody, to boot. I'm trying to remember which artist 10 Years in Mexico reminds me of, but regardless, I dig it. It is a light rocker with very slight country rock flavor (maybe it is the harmony). Getting There has a bit of Steely Dan to it, Memorize a bit of Jimmie Spheeris or Tom Pacheco, Grace a bit of a string of artists. And so on. The songs may not be all that original, but they are done very well and are on the whole good songs, some better than good.

The songs span three albums with a Bellamy brothers track thrown in for good measure (The Bacons provide a bit of help) so of course the album lacks a bit of continuity, but it is well put together. The sound? Smooth. Pure. Very nice. The band, exceptional. Very professional. The Bacons? Impressive, both as songwriters and vocalists.

Shortly after getting this, I played it for a friend without telling him who it was. It took him the whole album to say it sounded like Kevin Bacon. Even though that was his first thought, he said, he couldn't say it for certain until it was done. He liked it too. And he's a bigger critic of the stars than am I. It says a lot.

I see that the Bacons have been touring a bit lately, possibly to support this album. Would I go? Probably not. But that says more about the people who more than likely WOULD go than the music. The last thing I need on a music night out is to listen to giggling middle-aged idiots talk about the Kevin Bacon movies they've seen while I'm trying to hear the band. And I don't want to get arrested for assault. I can't afford to spend any time behind bars. There are too many albums to hear and review. See how focused I am? I didn't think so.

Track List:

  • Unhappy Birthday
  • Old Guitars
  • Guess Again
  • July Away
  • Only a Good Woman
  • 10 Years in Mexico
  • Getting There
  • Boys in Bars
  • Memorize
  • Grace
  • Grey Green Eyes
  • Angelina
  • Don't Lose Me Boy
  • Sooner Or Later
  • Baby Steps
  • Guilty of the Crime
  • When You Decide You've Stayed Too Long
  • It's a Rocky Road
  • She Is the Heart

All songs written by Kevin Bacon & Michael Bacon, alone or together, except Guilty of the Crime by Frankie Miller & Jerry Williams. All songs published by FOROSOCO Music LLC (BMI) except Guilty of the Crime,
published by Howlin' Hits Music Inc/Frankie Miller Music/His Majesty Jerr Music.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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