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Review of "Wiggle Room" CD by Patriot Ledger Archives for Patriot Ledger July 04, 2003 MUSIC SCENE: At last, Fat City captures energy of its live shows on CD By JAY MILLER The Patriot Ledger For almost 30 years, Fat City has been one of the...
Review of "Wiggle Room" CD by Patriot Ledger Archives for Patriot Ledger
July 04, 2003
MUSIC SCENE: At last, Fat City captures energy of its live shows on CD
By JAY MILLER
The Patriot Ledger
For almost 30 years, Fat City has been one of the most popular live acts in New England, performing at every size club and venue with a show that combines rhythm and blues, roots rock, and the certainty that the dancefloor will be full, and fun will be had.
Somehow, though, the group has never really been able to translate that infectious good times vibe into recording success.
Just a few weeks ago, Fat City released their fourth CD, ‘‘Wiggle Room,’’ a 13-song collection of original tunes that capture the flavor of their live show better than anything they’ve ever done. (The album is available at Tower Records, SoundChasers in Hanover, at shows, or via the web site, www.fatcityband.com.)
Tonight, Fat City headlines the Sea Note on Nantasket Beach, and tomorrow night they move down the coast a bit to play the Sandwich Tavern.
‘‘We just tried to make a record this time that sounded the way we play on stage,’’ said Fat City lead singer Paul Redmond from his Dorchester home, just before leaving for a pickup hockey game. ‘‘Fred Danner, owner of Courtlen Recording Studio in Hanson, where we made this record, knew what we were after. He’d grill me on every song until we got what we were after, and got it done right.’’
Previous Fat City efforts included ‘‘Let It Rip,’’ ‘‘Crank It Up,’’ and ‘‘Fat Chance,’’ and while all had their moments, the reckless sense of fun that embodies a Fat City live show never quite made it onto the whole record. The band has, strangely enough, never attempted a live concert recording.
‘‘A lot of times on those early records we were flying by the seat of our pants,’’ Redmond admitted. ‘‘With this band, my basic job is being a ham, and I need a live audience to feed off. But we became very comfortable in this studio, and tried to visualize a crowd out there in front of us. Many people will say it’s almost impossible to totally capture the live feeling on a studio record, but this one comes as close as possible.’’
Although Fat City still includes veterans Paul ‘‘PJ’’ Justice of Marshfield on bass, Diamond Jim Baker of Arlington on sax, and drummer John Litwin of Hingham, there have been some changes in the past year.
Founding member Joe Micarelli of Hingham stepped away to concentrate more on his family, and his work with a jazz trio (which also includes Litwin). Micarelli was replaced by Brockton’s Rich Cesarini. Hanover’s Mark Anderson, who spent time in Nashville in Dolly Parton’s band, has taken over the guitar spot.
‘‘I think this album is the best example of the style of music we like to play most,’’ Redmond said, ‘‘and our new guitar player really brings an edge to it, from his rock ’n’ roll background. We feel like the new blood has revitalized us, and that feeling is at the heart of this record.’’
This is the first Fat City album to contain all original material, and the songs all fall in that rhythm and blues, 1950’s-style roots rock mode they have plumbed so well for decades.
The lyrics frequently have more than a dollop of humor, whether the singer is crazy in love (‘‘I Like It,’’ ‘‘My Honey’s Sweet on Me’’) unlucky in love (‘‘Good as Gone,’’) somewhere in between (‘‘Wiggle Room,’’ ‘‘No One Anywhere’’), or just looking for some fun (‘‘Step Into the Nightlife’’).
‘‘I had a hand in writing most of these songs,’’ Redmond said, ‘‘and I like to stick pretty steadily to the 1-4-5 blues progression - anything more complicated than that, and you’d need to get a real musician.
‘‘When I try to gauge what kind of song will work for us, I always go back to being a live performance kind of guy. If people start singing along to the lyrics the first time we play a number, we know that’s one that will be popular. I believe you gotta gaffe ’em with a simple hook, either melody or lyrics.’’
Naturally, the Fat City Band’s enduring popularity on the club scene while playing classic styles makes them decidedly un-hip in some circles. The group isn’t breaking new ground, and eschews punk rock, heavy metal and hip hop. Instead of a pubescent blonde with a bare navel fronting them, they have a 40-something guy with a goatee, a crewcut and a mischievous sense of humor.
In other words, don’t expect to see the Fat City Band in the pages of Spin, or Vibe, or Rolling Stone anytime soon.
‘‘Who cares?’’ Redmond said with a chuckle.
‘‘The bottom line is people are having fun, and I’m having fun onstage. That’s what it’s all about.’’
The Sea Note has become a home base for the band, which usually plays the season-ending show there every November.
‘‘I don’t think there’s much doubt the Sea Note is the best local summertime club,’’ Redmond said. ‘‘It’s right on the water, it attracts great people, and it’s run by folks who treat us right. I admire (owners) Joe Phillips and Paula Dillon for sticking with the styles of music they like.’’
Copyright 2003 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Friday, July 04, 2003