54-40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret
54-40 was really up against some stiff competition, for me, in the summer of 1994. You see, that August, I had tickets to see the Rolling Stones (on the Voodoo Lounge tour) at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, with the Stone Temple Pilots opening. I was thrilled, and I bought the Voodoo Lounge CD, no questions asked. And then I learned there had been a new 54-40 CD too, and I wanted that, but my music money was spent.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I got my own copy. And what a record! The menace of album opener Blame Your Parents is always thrilling, and the full-on punk rock of Radio Luv Song please me to no end. Then it’s Assoholic, which I’m sure you’ve all heard many, many times. Pure 54-40, for sure. Daisy trips along happily, Once A Killer is an acoustic blast, reminding me, frankly, of 54-40 doing a Neil Young song. And that’s a good thing!
Punk Grass isn’t exactly a punk rock song, but it’s great fuzzed-out 54-40 rock. Lucy is chunky big three-chord riff rock at its best, and Beyond The Outsider brings back the Neil Young thought, its riff nudging close to Rockin’ In The Free World territory. Still, play it loud enough and it’s awesome! Don’t Listen To That keeps the energy high. Damn, these guys were really going for it with this record, and I love it!
And then we come to Ocean Pearl, a track that stood out to me on first spin, and has been a favourite of mine ever since. Any mix of 54-40 I make will definitely have this track near the top. There’s just something about its riff line, it makes you just have to move! So then we move on to Higher, which is another acoustic track, this time a slide work-out and a real stomper. Friends End keeps the acoustic guitars going, this time a strummy and pretty song.
What Buddy Was brings the bass to the fore, with drums that sound like a slowed down Billie Jean beat. Fun! The echoing vocals and the wailing guitars make this whole track quite a trip, indeed. Lovely! And album closer Save Yourself is a big, fuzzy rock song with more of those processed vocals. Still, listening to it, one can’t help but be lifted, and that is a great way to end any album. When 54-40 does it, it’s that much sweeter.
Another album to love. Love love love.