Friday, June 7, 2013

The Fleshtones - Hexbreaker!

Following up their first full length album Roman Gods (click here for that review) in 1982, the Fleshtones returned to the studio to work on their next release. Today (June 7th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Hexbreaker!, the 1983 follow-up second album from the band. As with the first album, it too was produced by Richard Mazda.

With this album, Bill Milhizer replaced Lenny Calderon on drums. Also, Gordon Spaeth joined the group on organ, harmonica and saxophone. John Weiss and Peter Doyle also provided tenor saxophone and trumpet respectively.

Side one begins with “Deep In My Heart”, a song that mixes a 60’s rock sound with a punk attitude. Who knew love could be so angry?

“What’s So New (About You)” is next. It tells of a chance encounter between to former acquaintances.

“Screamin’ Skull” was released as a single in Europe. The opening organ is ominous on this trippy tale about a drug overdose.

The instrumental “Legend of a Wheelman” spotlights Spaeth’s smooth saxophone. The song reminds me a little of the “Theme From Peter Gunn”, which I’ve always loved.

“New Scene” is next and calls for a change in the status quo.

The title track “Hexbreaker” is full of high energy, supported by the strong horn section.

Side two starts with “Right Side of a Good Thing”; it was also released as a single in Europe, accompanied by a promotional music video. I like the quick-tempo, clap-along rhythm of this party track.

“Brainstorm” warns about not getting caught up in the singer’s ideas as they will completely take you over.

“This House Is Empty” reflects upon an earlier time when a house was full of love and good times. Now it stands abandoned and bare.

On “Want!”, the singer expresses his desire for one particular woman.

The album closes with the Fleshtone’s cover of blues man John Lee Hooker’s 1964 song “Burning Hell” from the album of the same name.

The songs on Hexbreaker! remind me of the type of songs I heard at fraternity parties in college in the 80’s - just a good time going on and great to dance to. I definitely enjoyed each and every track that I heard when doing this review. I like how the band took sounds from the past and presented them for a whole new listening audience in the 80’s.

The Fleshtones albums have been long since out of print, but there is good news for music lovers as a label out of Australia (Raven records) has been re-releasing them on double-album CD sets recently. I hope they go digital as well as that is my preferred music buying method these days.

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