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
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
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.
Truffle- Roadhouse Boogie
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