THE MOONEY SUZUKI - Electric Sweat (Gammon)

Sophomore effort from these hard-working young Noo Yawkers, without a doubt the most exciting live band I've seen in gawd knows how long, who value the "N'ROLL" as much as the "Rawk" part of the equation and go through riddim section players like some people go through underwear, finds 'em moving away from the sheer assault that occasioned lotsa "new MC5" comparisons (yeah, right, them along with At the Drive-In and the Hellacopters and now Icarus Rising or whoever) more into the R&B turf that they staked out early on.

Here they pull off a credible Otis-esque slow soul ballad ("The Broken Heart") that works better than "Everytime" on their Estrus debut "People Get Ready" did, largely due to wraparound-shade-wearing front Mooney Sammy James, Jr.'s clearly developing vocal chops. To these jaded ears, buzz producer o' the moment Diamond Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Go) does a better job of capturing the Mooneys' assault in the studio than Tim Kerr did last time around...the sound's less an annoying ball of fuzz that made me ultra-appreciate their privately-produced "demo CD," and more of a pro-sounding REKKID.

That said, none of the toons here really step up and GRAB ya the way "Half of My Heart," "I Say I Love You," or "My Dear Persephone" did on the last one, but there's still a few worthies in the batch. "In a Young Man's Mind" features the same kinda call-and-response ramalama that marked many of the toons on the debut (and dig the brief appearance of the signature riff from "Kick Out the Jams" its own self), but comes off better due to the increased clarity of the instrumentalismo.

Furiously kinetic guitarist Graham Tyler's mojo has developed since the first release, too; he's discovered fuzztone (inevitable, I guess, this being a "garage" band 'n' all), and his searing blasts of feedback are more controlled and focused, contrasted here and there with some tasty (Steve) Cropperisms. "A Little Bit of Love" tips its cap to the Yardbirds at their Graham Gouldman poppiest, and contains a naggingly familiar bit of hookage that seems to be an allusion to "Love Potion Number Nine" - it's downright insidious, I tell ya!

"Natural Fact" returns to the minor-key Zombie-ismo of the Mooneys' best song, "My Dear Persephone" (the Mooneys cancelled a show in Texas last year to open for the reconstituted Zombs in lower Manhattan), while "It's Showtime Pt II" is a groovy instrumental with Sammy showing off his keyboard skills.

"Electrocuted Blues" is the kinda I-IV-V jammage that guys undertake before they really learn how to play Da Blooz, but I bet it kills live - the REAL way to dig these mofos. - Ken Shimamoto