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Album Review

Any account of Dr. Frank's talents should clearly be topped with his knack for addictive melody and lyrical wit. But he also owns a penchant for astute observation, as evidenced by older songs such as "Dumb Little Band" and "At Gilman Street." It's that gift that he brings to Alcatraz's "I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll," a knowing jab at critics that should make most rock writers cringe in recognition ("I compare the Shaggs to Wittgenstein — how cool is that?" he sings in referential one-upmanship). Though none of the songs on Alcatraz match this gem, the album will nonetheless please MTX fans. Frank continues to explore the acoustic and undistorted electric guitar stylings he's tinkered with since the mid-'90s, while also importing elements such as horns and a variety of keyboards. This is his third full-length outing with bassist Joel Reader and drummer Jim "Jym" Ruzicka, who have settled in as a fine backing unit. Still, the album succeeds because of Frank's longstanding abilities. "Our Days Are Numbered" and "I Feel for You" (not the Prince song of the same name) boast structures and melodies that wouldn't seem out of place on Broadway; "Two of Us" sparkles with clever sentimentality. Predictable? Sure, but with MTX, the familiar is always pretty fine.

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Punk

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Mr. T Experience came out of the same Berkeley/East Bay Gilman Street punk rock scene that eventually spawned Green Day, but they are often left out of the history of this scene, or at least they rarely fit prominently into the punk rock genealogy. The Mr. T Experience (or MTX for short) played the same Ramones/Buzzcocks/Descendents-inspired punk-pop for years without gaining any of the commercial success of Gilman Street peers Green Day and Rancid. Perhaps this is a result of the perception...
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