By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
BULLETBOYS – FREAKSHOW (1991)
It’s time for another musical true confession. I’m not really much of a BulletBoys fan. Oh sure, I liked “Smooth Up In Ya” from their self-titled album and I suppose the second single from that album, the cover of The O’Jays song “For The Love of Money” is okay. But if honesty is indeed the best policy, I couldn’t really tell you anything about the rest of that first album. I’m not even sure that I ever owned it.
So, I think it is of little surprise to anyone reading that I never bothered with album #2 Freakshow. For better or worse, BulletBoys just had nothing that kept me coming back for a second dose, so now I come at Freakshow as if it is a brand new release.
I will say that the cover art and liner notes are visually striking. As for the music, there are 12 songs on the album. Unfortunately, I think the fact that I really don’t like Marq Torien’s voice really affected me from truly getting into any of the songs.
The band released three songs from the album as singles and two of them were cover songs. The first of the covers is “Hang On St. Christopher” from Tom Waits which did nothing for me at all. I do have to admit, however, that I did kind of like “Talk To Your Daughter” which was done by bluesman J.B. Lenoir. Even Torien’s grating vocals couldn’t mess that song up entirely.
As for the rest of side one of the album, it was an exercise in restraint. By that I mean, I had to restrain myself from shutting the album off and forgetting about doing this article.
Side 2 of the album started off interestingly enough with the song “Goodgirl”. It had a pretty interesting musical backing, particularly with Mick Sweda’s guitars. I didn’t much care for “Do Me Raw” though.
If I could listen to just the music, I think I would be raving about “Ripping Me”, a fast-paced rocker that has a real good sense of intensity to it. But the vocals are just crap. I do have to give Torien some credit though. I think he did a really good job with “Say Your Prayers” and “O Me O My.” The songs rock and the vocals really do fit themselves well to each track.
In the end, this album kind of illustrates the end times of the 80’s metal years. There’s some interesting stuff scattered about the album but not really a lot and it usually feels like you’ve heard it a million times before…and done better, a lot better.
NOTE OF INTEREST: Freakshow was reissued on CD in 2005 by Wounded Bird Records. The band’s third album, Za-Za, was included on the same disc.
Marq Torien is still fronting the band today but with none of the other original members involved.