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Gravy Train - All the Sweet Stuff

Released on Cochon Records, 7/10/07

Oakland’s Gravy Train is back in the saddle with their third salvo of dance floor madness, another collection of loud, salacious, punch drunk anthems guaranteed to have you up and dancing. The quartet -- Chunx (vocals, keys, drums), Funx (vocals, keys, drums, bass, guitar), Hunx (vocals, keys, drums), and Junx (guitar, bass, harpsichord) -- is wilder, more tuneful and sexier than ever with a musical mash up of punk, funk and garage club beats that’s impossible to resist. Think The Ramones backing up Prince, or Rick James sitting in with the B 52s.

The band’s forte is still silly songs about sex, and they manage to do the almost impossible, singing songs about hand jobs, laps dances and other seamy situations with a naive innocence that makes even their raunchiest tunes sound like good, clean (or is that dirty?) fun. The album kicks off with the title track, a bouncy ode to seduction and possibly self-satisfaction with an irresistible beat, addictive organ work and vocals with the drunken energy of an out of control pep rally.

“Wutcha Wutcha Wutcha Wutcha Wutcha Wutcha Doin' Tonite?” follows with driving amusement park organ, more breathless vocals and a throbbing relentless pulse. “Solo J/O” is another tune about self-satisfaction, or perhaps watching someone attain the same (it’s hard to tell), but again the vibe is so bright and effervescent that you can’t help singing along. “Hey Jody” is about having sex in public places, or just about anyplace else. Hearing Chunx snarl out the kind of raw, seductive language that men have used for so long to intimidate women is strangely liberating. When she asks “Do ya think you can handle me?”, it’s as much a boast as a challenge. The set closes with “A Delicious Treat” and it doesn’t take a genius to know that the gals aren’t talking about chomping on burgers or rock lobsters.

Like the lyrics, Gravy Train’s music hews close to the basics -- driving, jittery organ work that keeps your head nodding, forceful four on the floor booty bouncing drumbeats, guitars that alternate between a fuzzy grind and a tawngy beach blanket bounce and pouting, pleading vocals that blend youthful enthusiasm and trash talking jive to produce a cathartic blast of pure pop exhilaration. It ain’t deep, but you’ll have a hard time finding another CD that’ll give you this much unadulterated fun.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars