TRAVOLTAS' PARTY - Travoltas (Knock Knock)
From all accounts, the Travoltas are one terrific pop punk outfit, although I have to confess I've never heard note one from them. They're from The Netherlands - how could they be anything but? Apparently Knock Knock Records honcho Mark Enoch came up with the bright idea of having the band (and some of their friends) drink a shitload of beer, play some of their own tunes as well as some old Beach Boys chestnuts on acoustic instruments, and record the results.

Maybe it's because I've never bought into the theory of Brian Wilson as genius, but having these guys try to replicate "A Beach Boys Party," right down to the cover shot, must have looked better on paper than it actually plays out. Don't get me wrong - the Travoltas are talented, acquittting themselves quite brilliantly both vocally and instrumentally - but "unplugged" and acoustic-based music just ain't my thang. And let's face facts - "A Beach Boys Party" was a sham to begin with since the laughter and small talk was dubbed in later.

The most endearing songs the Travoltas perform here are their own. "Do The Gal-I-Gator," "One For The Road," "Alright," and "There Goes Marsha" all sound pleasant enough given the acoustic guitar and bongo treatment, but just have to sound that much better with a slambang, three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust approach, which is how they were originally meant to be heard. On the other hand, 40 years and countless spins of "Little Honda," "Barbara Ann," and "California Girls," all covered on "Party," make it near impossible for the Travoltas to add a new coat of sheen to them, try as they might.

Personally, I'm a guy who abhors change. If it was up to me, Bob Geldof would have never organized Live Aid and the Boomtown Rats would have spent the last 20 years tirelessly churning out endless variations of "A Tonic For The Troops." And while change may have been the crux of why the Travoltas decided to unplug their amps and try the acoustic thing, they just may discover that it's a genre that sells even less than indie pop punk. Sure hope they can live with that. - Clark Paull