To say that “Alpha Ram” is not influenced heavily by the psychedelic and rock music of the mid to late sixties would be to lie outright. The style is fresh enough and Straight Dope Cherry does not suffer from the limited sound that a great many of the albums from that era have. There are some more diverse sounds than those previously mentioned during “Alpha Ram”; Straight Dope Cherry throws in a little Zappa and jazz influences.
What ultimately resides is a track that is bouncy and fun, regardless of what musical influences one has. The tracks are not clearly distinguished from one another, but like all of the good jam bands, Straight Dope Cherry jams out for the entirety of the forty-three minute runtime of this disc. “Grams of Fun” shows off the combined virtuosity of Straight Dope Cherry; if it is not the drum fills present, it is the Santana-like guitar work or the bass threaded throughout the track. Each of the tracks are admirably suited for popular radio, as the arrangements present on “Bell Bottom Baby” are those that individuals can immediately pick up and sing. The only thing that would relegate Straight Dope Cherry to the alternative rock and college stations would be their full assumption of the jam band style; even when the act moves towards a Doors-like sound (present on “Mosca Hispana”) the act cannot break this sixties mentality.
While most bands can say that they show a few different influential acts on their disc, Straight Dope Cherry shows entire genres in the space of a track. On the aforementioned “Mosca Hispana”, the band throws together ska, jazz, and psychedelic into a blender that makes the track enjoyable to a wide swath of society. There is no doubt in my mind that the band would have sold millions of albums if they came out in 1968; what Straight Dope Cherry does to succeed now is link their music to a clarity and fullness that simply was not possible to capture on records from that era. One simply cannot ask for anything else out of “Bell Bottom Baby”;the album is everything a fan of jam bands could ask for and more. The band could just cut this album a few more times and succeed in much the same way; check Straight Dope Cherry out when they go on their tour and pick this and any future albums up.
Top Tracks: Union Down, Grams of Fun
Straight Dope Cherry – Bell Bottom Baby / Winegrog / 11 Tracks / http://www.straightdopecherry.com /