At the beginning of the 1990s, lower Manhattan was a rock & roll paradise. New York was an oasis for free thinkers, and the crumbling real-estate market made it possible for a new generation of clubs to become the spawning grounds for a new scene. Wetlands, Continental Divide, the Rodeo Bar, Paddy Reilly's and McGovern's were only some of the venues presenting local bands. Out of this came the most furious round of New York signings since the mid-'70s punk explosion.
Spin Doctors were the first of these bands to be signed, followed by Blues Traveler, Black 47, Phish and God Street Wine. The Doctors remain the most popular on the strength of Pocket Full of Kryptonite and the hit "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong." That popularity is based on universal rock & roll virtues the tuneful grooves and the neohippie charm of vocalist Chris Barron. Turn It Upside Down delivers those qualities once again.
In fact, listening to Upside Down is a lot like being at one of those early Spin Doctors gigs. "Big Fat Funky Booty" was always one of the band's most effective flag-wavers; "You Let Your Heart Go Too Fast" is built around a sound melodic riff. Guitarist Eric Schenkman swings for the fences on the full-throttle "Bags of Dirt," while Barron works the not-so-hidden meaning of "Mary Jane" ("I wanna roll you way down in the fields where you were born"). His ironic delivery enlivens the information-superhighway pun "Someday All This Will Be Road."
Spin Doctor's roots permeate the songwriting: doing the New York stoop hang with "Laraby's Gang" and immortalizing the nasty greasy spoon at the corner of 4th and Atlantic in Brooklyn ("Hungry Hamed's"), "just three blocks down from Bergen Street."
The Doctors aren't trying to blaze new trails they know we've been down this way with the Stones, Curtis Mayfield and a few of their other touchstones. But the proof plenty of it is in the party. (RS 686/687)
(Posted: Jul 14, 1994)
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