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The Savoy Truffle-  Roadhouse Boogie 
By David Demarest

Two things about The Savoy Truffle’s newest release, “Roadhouse Boogie” are completely undeniable:  One is that this album is a lot of fun to listen to (It is, in fact, enjoyable on many different levels, but more on that later).  The second great truth that this album makes undeniable is that The Savoy Truffle is without a doubt the premier Southern Rock Band to ever emerge from Japan.  Yes that Japan.

Step outside of that admittedly narrow criteria, however, and a critique of “Roadhouse Boogie” becomes somewhat problematic.  The musical talent of each band member goes well beyond proficient, and some of the slide guitar work really boarders on the outstanding.  In fact, go to a show.  I guarantee that you will smile and you will rock.  But perhaps at least some of the enjoyment in the show and from the album come for the wrong reasons.  I’ll be the first to admit it:  There is something inherently funny about a big Southern Rock sound coming from five long haired Japanese.

And while that may sound wrong, the hard truth is that being Japanese is a big part of this band’s appeal.  That is the beginning and the end of what makes them exceptional.  Drop them into a bag with the band’s who have defined for the world the meaning of Southern Rock, groups like The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or the Black Crows, and what you have from the Savoy Truffle is a sound that can not live up to the comparison.  Their sound is simply an imitation of an entire genre of music, and is comparable only as far as you can compare margarine to butter:  If you like butter, you’ll probably like margarine too- but it ain’t butter.

That being said, what you do have in “Roadhouse Boogie” is a well put together album.  Opening with their best foot forward (the slide guitar work on ‘Out in the Rain’) you’ll probably be intrigued enough to coast through what is probably the most upbeat and popish blues song I have ever heard in ‘Lowdown Blues.’ But while ‘Lowdown Blues’ is neither “lowdown” or “blue,” ‘Chevrolet’ is probably the biggest misstep on the album, hurt badly by what is obvious inauthenticity. However, on the very next track ‘Don’t beat around the bush,’ I caught myself rocking out a little bit, and I bet you will to.  The album strengthens as it goes, and by the time they wrap things up with a slightly Black Crow-ish and honest ‘Give it one good try’ the album has taken a nice shape, and I went immediately back for a second listening to their closing track.

What makes “Roadhouse Boogie” a difficult review however, has more to do with the very roots and meaning of Southern Rock, or even Rock, for that matter.  Because hasn’t good rock and roll been from the very start an original and individual voice from the crowd?  And hasn’t a big part of its unique spirit always been about rebellion?  If this is true, then The Savoy Truffle is only rock and roll within the context of their Japanese heritage.  Sure, for a hometown band to produce a Southern Rock sound is probably the height of non-conformity in Japan, but here, and especially in the South, it is just a borrowed sound.  And all the ripped Levi’s and moonpies in Alabama won’t change that.

Does the world need a Southern Rock band out of Japan?  Probably not.  Is this a fun album?  You bet your ass it is.  Will it change the way we rock?  Again, probably not, but in the meantime, you won’t spend time regretting it as a purchase either.  It’s simply too much fun both as an album and as a gimmick, and if you like Southern Rock, the sound is already familiar.

CD Info 

The Savoy Truffle-  Roadhouse Boogie
Label: Halycon

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