East Fairfield's Oleo Romeos are unlikely to crack today's pop charts, but they've got an old-fashioned people-pleaser in Check Please. It's a fun-lovin' romp of a record, a throwback to the days when diners and swing joints dotted many a rural landscape. Guitarist/lead vocalist Tyrone Shaw - who penned nearly all the songs here - serves as bandleader. He's backed by a cast of seasoned locals, including drummer Eric Belrose, guitarist/vocalist Jerry Bowers, bassist/vocalist Nate Orshan, and piano man/harmonist Doug Southworth.
Guests include saxmen Gus Ziesing and Tom Steele, guitarist and engineer Andre Maquera and his vocalizing wife Wendy, Will Patton on bass and mandolin, and drummer Roy Cutler.
The majority of the music on Check Please is rooted in twangy r&b. Pristinely recorded by Maquera at his West Street Digital studios, each song reflects Shaw's genial humor and breezy songwriting style.
An overly intoxicated paramour provides the inspiration for the opening title track. "I asked you on a trip / You're already there / Standing outside naked / You had flowers in your hair / You said you'd ate some mushrooms / You wish you had some more / Honey, you were out to lunch when I walked in the door," Shaw sings over some spry boogie-woogie.
"Barbeque" extols the virtues of grilled animal flesh. "I don't want no tofu dish / Don't you give me no fillet fish / What you should do is give me barbeque," Shaw sings in a bawdy baritone. Maquera's beefy guitar solo nicely complements Shaw's red-meat rant.
The tempo slows with "Wise Men and Poets," an existential discourse disguised as juke-joint balladry. "Are we made in God's image to grow toward the light / Or are we just cosmic bastards with no wrong or no right?" Shaw intones. "Where do we go when we pass away / Who fired the bullet that killed JFK?" he continues. Wendy Maquera's harmony vocals provide a comely counterpart to Shaw's lyrical inquiries.
"Dank Rider (Ridin' With Tommy)" is a Shadows-style surf instrumental with tremolo guitar and bitchin' turnarounds, while "No Jazz" finds the band waltzing its way through hilarious faux-lounge.
The disc wraps up with "Condoleeza Rice," Shaw's confession of liberal lust for the Secretary of State. Maybe he should just send her a CD. Condi is a musician herself - dunno about her sense of humor, though.