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The River

Allies

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Album Review

Fans who were introduced to Allies frontman Bob Carlisle through his proud-daddy crossover hit "Butterfly Kisses" won't be surprised by his performance of power ballads like "Someone to Turn To" and "Can't Stop the River" on this 1990 record. But a few eyebrows might be raised when it is discovered that Carlisle is actually more in his element singing driving rock & roll tunes. The disparity between the two styles, as well as the inconsistent quality of the songwriting and production, make for a wildly uneven album. The River opens with a song that may well be the best ever recorded by Allies. "Take Me to the River" is an exuberant rock jam anchored by a deliciously sliding bass riff and fleshed out with a spot-on brass arrangement featuring multiple saxophones. From there it's a steady downhill slide. The acoustic-based rock songs "Carried Away" and "Mule-Headed Man" have some strong moments, though the clumsy lyrics and Carlisle's flamboyant vocals begin to grate. But the second side features a near collapse. The ballads "Requiem for the Living," "Can't Stop the River" and "Come to the Family" use synthesizers as a transperently cheap substitute for real strings. And when an almost unrecognizable Carlisle adopts a horrendous Jamaican accent for the Caribbean-flavored "Island Song," listeners may find themselves looking back at "Take Me to the River" as a long-past golden age of rock & roll.

The River, Allies
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