Thursday, August 15, 2013

CD Review: Gary Ritchie - Drake Near The Alley


Singer-guitarist Gary Ritchie once again taps into the 1960s on his latest collection of power pop songs, Drake Near The Alley. He has logged time with a number of bands over the past few decades, most notably Loose Lips and Mike Jordan And The Rockmatics. Some of that experience surfaces in the lyrics on Drake, and Ritchie also reflects on his childhood and high school years.

“Hum, Sing, Repeat” includes the line, “I spent my milk money on a 45,” and celebrates the rock and roll era of Chicago AM radio station WLS. There’s a nice shout out in the liner notes to the late DJ Art Roberts and his nightly Top Three Songs. The acerbic “Charming Life” depicts a guy who still feels empty even while boasting about all his accomplishments to the girl who snubbed him back in their high school days. Other tracks deal with crumbling relationships, like “Hear My Plea,” which has an easy-going arrangement reminiscent of Chad And Jeremy.

At times, Ritchie’s vocals sound over-articulated, which can throw the song off a bit. He comes across stronger while cutting loose on the harder-edged “Back To You.” Still, fans of melodic pop with ringing guitars are sure to appreciate the approach on Drake Near The Alley, particularly on “Woman, Oh Woman” and “Midnight Lovers.” 

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