Posted on: June 23, 2007 Posted by: James McQuiston Comments: 0

Duke and the Drivers – Harder Than Before / 2006 Groove International / 12 Tracks / / Reviewed 22 June 2007

There are a lot of Boston bands that played in the seventies that have came back to prominence in the current era. Duke and the Drivers is one of those bands; The Destroyed is another. Even though the vocals on “Harder Than Before”, the opening track, are scratchy in the C.C. Deville/Joe Walsh way, the smooth style of the rest of the band is enough to make up for that. Still, it only takes Duke and the Drivers a few minutes to get their old fans back and tons more. The harmonica solo tops things off; the band is hard hitting in the seventies rock way.

The band continues their tear with “Just Ain’t the Rock”. The most interesting thing about this track is the very bass like sound of the tuba during the track, which does not seem to make its way into rock music fairly often. What results with this track is a song that sounds eerily similar to the Full House theme. While not as immediately radio-ready as “Harder Than Before”, it still is catchy in its’ own way. The third track on the disc is “Funk All Over The Place”, a track that uses the title genre to make a groovy sound that draws on early Stevie Wonder to add to their own sound. The brass makes its’ triumphant return again with this track, and links together the first segment of the disc. The band goes into their cleanup track “A Mind of Its’ Own” strong, with a tremendous amount of momentum.

A Mind of Its’ Own” is very slow and influenced by a gospel type of sound, but the energy that was created by the band on the previous tracks is still more than enough to keep individuals interested in “Harder Than Before”. “Loco-Loco” is the track that will bring Duke and the Drivers back up to their previous level of popularity, if not higher. The heavily Latin influenced track will bring fans of Santana into the fold, while the funk in the track links together the song with “A Mind of Its’ Own”. The hard-hitting choruses bring the track over the top; this is a fun, catchy song that will be in listeners’ ears for months to come. The band shows its’ fans that they have learned lessons with each and every year that they have been a band; this smoothed-out album is impressive as hell and will be in my player for a while to come.

Top Tracks: Loco-Loco, A Mind of Its Own

Rating: 7.3/10

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