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On the Wild Side

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Album Review

Randy McDonald, best known as the veteran bassist behind Tommy Castro (and before him the Dynatones), takes advantage of his boss' label to release his first solo outing. While it won't compete on the same playing field with Castro's more substantial rugged blues/R&B, On the Wildside is a perfectly enjoyable album, taken on its own less ambitious terms. Mixing four originals with a handful of relatively obscure and often humorous party offerings from Harold Burrage ("You Eat Too Much"), Leon René (the New Orleans jump of "Crawfishin'"), and even Bruce Springsteen (a sizzling "Out of Work," which was originally written for and performed by Gary "U.S." Bonds), McDonald keeps the mood light and the beat tight. Support from the rest of Castro's band (Keith Crossan on woodwinds and Billy Lee Lewis on drums) is appropriately loose and rollicking. From the Little Richard/Chuck Berry rockin' of "Take It Easy Greasy" (originally done by Bobby Charles) to the horn-punctuated '50s-styled cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Teenage Letter" (with Crossan blowing some smoking King Curtis-styled sax), this a perfect high-energy album for your next shindig. Kid Ramos' guitar snakes around the swampy, greasy funk of "Scattered, Smothered and Covered" and Red Young's frisky piano nearly steals the show, driving the Willie Dixon/Bo Diddley classic "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover." There are no ballads to slow down the momentum, and even though McDonald isn't much of a singer, he gets by on sheer enthusiasm, pumping these tunes full of high-octane, dance-inducing gas. It sounds like it was a blast to record and that excitement jumps out of the speakers. On the Wildside won't change your life, but it'll sure make you smile for about 50 minutes. And isn't that what great rock & roll is about?

On the Wild Side, Randy McDonald
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