MAXIMUM RESPECT - The Master Plan (Nicotine)
Should the Fleshtones vacate the throne as The Ultimate Party Band then surely The Master Plan will step up, pop on the crown and plant their arses on the seat of power. Part Fleshtones spin-off and 100 percent New York City super group, The Master Plan have unleashed their second album on the world and it's a stylistic Sham Wow (an absorbent chamois, for those not familiar with infomercials) of influences.

It's still the same crew at the tiller of this ship with guitarist Keith Streng and drummer Bill Milheizer moonlighting from the Fleshtones, bassist-keyboardist Andy Shernoff on an interminably long sabbatical from the Dictators and guitarist Paul Johnson hailing from Viginia's Waxing Poetics. They've dialled in Hoodoo Gurus honcho Dave Faulkner for lead vocals on one track, the fuzz-and-acoustic singalong "Feels So Good To Feel", otherwise Streng, Shernoff and Johnson handle the mic.

Feeling good's something of a recurring theme with The Master Plan. It will be with you too, once you hear the record. There's the aforementioned Faulkner vocalising (killer song, too - watch the YouTubeage below to find out for yourself) and "I Wanna Feel Something New" with it's "I feel something good" lyric fairly jumping out for starters, but they're only the tip of the iceberg.

If you don't break into a rib-eating grin when opener "BBQ" comes tearing out of the speakers, you lack a pulse and it should be YOU they're throwing on the grill. It's a cover, but a well-chosen one, and it's built on a Streng's manic Little Richard vocal, a "hey hey hey" chorus, cowbell, a "Frampton Comes Alive" vocoder line (!) and a raucous mess of guitars. Sounds like a party to me. Pass the beers and I'll turn the steaks.

And so the should-be-hits come, one after another: "Are You Crazy" is a manic Johnson rocker; "14th Street" a classic hand-clap fuelled Shernoff do wop shaker and "Long Drive Home" a shuffling blast of harmonica and guitars with echoes of "Baby Please Don't Go".

Shernoff's "Suburban Soul Man" is all sunny guitars and horns, while Johnson's "Mucha Fiesta" takes the party vibe south of the Mexican border with guitars at 20 paces. By the time "Just a Little Bit" brings down the shutters, the patrons of The Master Plan's speakeasy are either ready for a lock-in knees-up or a good night's sleep. My money is on the former. Best advice is to hit the "repeat" button. Snoozing is for sissies.

This is truly a crew of old guys at the top of their game. Maximum respect. – The Barman

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COLOSSUS OF DESTINY – The Master Plan (Demolition Derby)
Rootsy rock and roll seems to be popping up in everybody's garage these days and it seems to be a game most adroitly played by the old guys, more often than not. Indeed, rock and roll itself looks to be heading the same way (but that's a point of discussion for another place and time). Given that the foregoing is even partly true, why not call on members of two of New York City's finest bands to start your party?

Andy Shernoff (the bassman who writes the songs for the Dictators) and Keith Streng (guitarist with theJohn Cale comb-over and longtime member of the Fleshtones) are probably the best-known half of The Master Plan, but that's not where the story ends. Their co-members, Fleshtones drummer Bill Millhizer and guitarist-vocalist Paul Johnson (Waxing Poetics), bring plenty to the table on a baker's dozen of spirited songs.
A varied trip it is, with more than vigorous nods to the ‘50s and a couple of more recent decades. Dashes of doo wop, a trace of surf and overwhelming lashings of goodtime rockin' infiltrate the music of The Master Plan (more a Master Party).

This is a musical co-op with Streng, Johnson and Shernoff singing four tunes apiece and one, "Picketts Charge", a supercharged surf instro. "What's Up With That" will be familiar to owners of the last ‘Tators album but for mine this version, with its sassy sax and lighter touch, shades it. While purists might decry the Plan's cover of The Eastern Dark's "Walking" for quickening the tempo and tampering with the lyrics, it's the thought that counts. (What about the concept of an The Eastern Dark tribute disc, anyone?)

Shernoff's "Find Something Beautiful" (first heard in these parts as a demo) is a blue ribbon winner while "Annie Had a Baby" and "Better Get Better" have the trademark Fleshtones "let's party" swagger written all over them. "Kickin' It Old School", with its surf bass runs, exhortation ot "Let's Get It On" and rock-solid chugging guitars, might be a call to arms . There's no mistaking the Spectorish influence in the girl back-up vocals on "Broken Arrow", pre-dating the Wall of Sound and assorted firearm offences.

It's more goodtime garage than hard-edged rock but with real guitar sparks flying between Streng and Johnson to sate six-string fans. There might be other bands mining the same field, but not many are growing their own as great as this.

You might find a copy on CD but Demolition Derby has the worldwide rights to releasing "Colossus" on vinyl. Worth making the effort to track down the flat black plastic down because it's an appropriate format for the tunes. – The Barman


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