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Big rock for a little room

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The Riviera Playboys have gone through quite a few lineup changes over the year. Each was cool and varied slightly with whoever was bringing whatever in with them, but never strayed from leader Dave Anderson's mod vision.

My favorite had always been the classic Williams-Frank-Anderson trio, but at the band's show last Thursday night (warming up for a month in Europe) they exploded. The current lineup --- Paul Rocco, John Campbell, Terry Davis, and Anderson --- sounded like David Banner shedding his skin to expose an even bigger monster. They swung like The Who swingin' an axe.

Despite the energy, the band remained relentlessly focused. Both guitars were amazing, with Rocco exhibiting awesome reserve in the rhythm position while Davis (of Rochester's late '60s outfit The Trillium) wailed. And then there's mercenary drummer Campbell; the big man behind the even bigger kit. He's the reason this band thunders and rolls.

Finally got to see Ray Charles' saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman as he played his second set at The Montage Grille on Friday. Newman, looking a little frail, switched from tenor to baritone to flute performing sweet and easy renditions of "Time after Time," "Autumn in New York," and his own "Hard Times." Fathead was joined in the end for an impromptu all-class duet with Joe Beard. And you talk about fat; you should've heard that B-3.

Slipped outta the East End and headed over to Spy Bar to catch The Earl Cram Revue play some big rock for a little room. The more I see this band, the more I associate its sound with the soundtrack to the movie Russ Meyer never made. I'm thinkin' Faster Earl Cram! Kill! Kill! --- with all the swirling psychedelia, the Bacharach-esque pop, mondo-sex appeal, and double entendres out the wazoo.

Watching Miss Suzie Willpower writhe and wriggle is better than anything on Cinemax. Cowbells, glory holes, fishnets, and Don Anonymous permanently in the band made for an all around great show. Man, I'd love to hear this band honk through a big PA. You know, one that Russ would be proud of.

--- Frank De Blase

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