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The Jazz Guys, Blessing In Disguise


Published June 28, 2006 at 6:37 p.m.

(Self-released, CD)

There's just something about those Jazz Guys. From their hilarious on-stage banter and zany home movies to their insanely catchy songs, the Burlington-based band always provides a good time. Now, at long last, their debut EP A Blessing in Disguise has arrived. While not as immediately impacting as their live shows, it doesn't disappoint.

Despite their comedic leanings, The Jazz Guys play pure, undiluted rock 'n' roll. Imagine The Kinks and The MC5 in an alleyway rumble and you're partway there. In today's sterile rock wasteland, their spirited sound is downright refreshing.

Although each of the disc's six tunes employ similar musical elements -- airtight hooks, searing solos and infectious melodies -- they never get boring. TJG aficionados will recognize most, if not all, of these tunes from the band's numerous local performances. Still, there's a marked difference in the overall energy level. The arrangements are tighter and the solos crisper, but a little of the band's on-stage mojo is missing.

Two songs that best make the transition from stage to CD are the lighthearted "The $6,000 Million Dollar Man" and the uproarious "Social Stigmas." On both numbers the group sounds plenty fired up, which makes me wonder why some of the others don't hit quite as hard.

Ultimately, the variations in intensity don't matter much, as every single cut boasts strong pop sensibility, great guitar work and laugh-out-loud lyrics.

Speaking of lyrics, it's rare to find rock 'n' roll wordplay that is both manic and meaningful. The Jazz Guys are masters of the craft, with tongue-in-cheek asides and double entendres spread like icing on an already tasty musical cake. "The first time I saw his girlfriend, I thought she was really ugly / it must have been an off day / 'cause the next time she was hot," they sing on "$6,000 Million," before tearing into yet another boisterous chorus.

In a live setting, it's sometimes tough to discern what TJG are singing about. Now fans can follow every witticism, courtesy of the handy lyric sheet. I'm still undecided whether this is a total improvement; sometimes it's just as fun to guess at what they're saying.

Blessing in Disguise is a more than satisfactory offering from a band on the rise. It'll be a challenge to top such an anticipated debut, but I'm sure they have it in them. If The Jazz Guys can somehow channel the pizzazz of their performances into their future studio work, they'll no doubt continue to rock my socks off.