The Goldstars: Gotta Get Out!

[20 April 2004]

By Jason Thompson

Get Out, Indeed

I was attracted to this CD because it was on the Pravda label, home of one of my all-time fave bands, the New Duncan Imperials. New Duncan Imperials have always been one of Chicago’s finest, so I was more than curious to hear what else their label had to offer. When I found out that the Goldstars in fact included two-thirds of NDI, I wanted to hear it even more. After all, any band that had Skipper and Goodtime in the group had to have something pretty good going for it.

And so, I’ve listened and re-listened to Gotta Get Out!, and I know I shouldn’t compare these guys to New Duncan Imperials to give them the fair shake and all, but when it honestly comes down to it, the Goldstars just don’t do it for me. The beautiful thing about New Duncan Imperials is that they’ve always mixed their garage rock with twisted bits of country and kitsch pop (not to mention a large dollop of zany humor) and wound up with a surreal, original stew that I’ve never heard anyone else produce. The Goldstars, on the other hand, don’t sound very different from a lot of other garage bands that haven’t even been around half as long.

There’s nothing terrible or bad about this album. There’s just nothing seriously exciting going on in the music. Joining the aforementioned Goodtime and Skipper (who play drums and keyboards and bass respectively) are former Krinkles bandmate Sal on bass and vocals, and former Slugs Dag Juhlin on guitar and vocals. Together, these guys turn out some competent riffs and rock that’s sure to please the barroom crowd. There’s plenty of throw down action on “Hurry up and Wait” and “Open up Your Door”.

But there’s a shot of cheese in here, too (and not the good kind). I hate to say it, but Skipper’s Farfisa on a number of these tunes just makes me not like them too much. It crops up in the opening track, “Babblin’ Brook”, which sounds like nothing more than a weary New Duncan Imperials leftover, and then comes back again on “The Rattle”, which, while it does a pretty good job of aping old trashy mod-a-go-go ‘60s rock, ultimately sounds too retro for its own good. Sometimes leaving the past behind can be a good idea.

Along with the Farfisa sometimes getting in the way, I’m also not too hot on Sal’s vocals. He’s got your typical full-on sweaty beer-rage windpipes, which do suit some of the tunes here, but too often he tends to rage on a bit when toning it down might be a better option. Hell, even Pigtail Dick (lead singer of New Duncan Imperials) is good at switching out when the songs call for it. On top of that, his voice is rather anonymous and doesn’t project a whole lot of character. Perhaps if it had, these songs would have had something truly tremendous going for them.

Not that they’re all bad. Stuff like “She Don’t Like” and “Run Run Run” smoke along with their retrofitted grooves well enough. And “Where’s My Ring” is probably the tops of the album. It’s just too bad that there couldn’t have been more peaks to complement the valleys. But, honestly, the Goldstars seem to be nothing more than just plain vanilla at the end of the day, which makes Gotta Get Out! the disappointingly generic disc that it is. I’m not quite sure what would really spice up the overall groove, as these guys are definitely rocking out. It’s just that the rock here has been heard before. So though I was ultimately disappointed in this one, I’ll be content to wait it out until the next New Duncan Imperials album comes along to fill the need for good, fun, trashy rock that no one else can produce.

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