Thursday, July 19, 2007

Milk Crate Classic #4: Moxy II

Moxy is an relatively obscure name in Canadian music, but they needn't be. They once verged on greatness and, at a time just before an explosion of Canadian rock on the landscape, they produced a pair of great rock and roll albums. Moxy and Moxy II (known as the black and red albums respectively) were solid guitar rock albums that may be better than anything produced in the hard rock genre in Canada before or since.

Moxy II, released in 1976, contained nine tracks, a number of which belong on any album. The opening song 'Cause There's Another was probably the groups biggest hit, and a great song. It starts off in a very hard rock style, but quickly slips into acoustic guitar with melodic lead line combination that would have made April Wine proud, although it may be more reminiscent of Teenage Head's Something On My Mind (or rather, Teenage Heads... would be reminiscent of 'Cause There's Another).

There's an old saw in golf, "hit for show, putt for dough". A similar statement can be made in guitar - left hand for show, right for dough. The left hand is what people notice, the one that moves around and gets the credit, but any good guitarist can tell you, the musicality comes from the right hand. Sound, tone and rhythm are all products of the right. Listening to the acoustic guitar in 'Cause There's Another, there's some amazing stuff going on. Moxy have eschewed a basic little rhythm over something much more complex and interesting. It is musicality of the kind that moves the song from good to great, and sets the tone for a wonderful album.

Second song Take it or Leave it is solid 70's funk that predates Wild Cherry's Play that Funky Music and David Bowie's Fame, both of which sound as though they borrow from this. Take it or Leave it is, to my ear, however, superior to both those songs. Kids, this is what we danced to in the 70's and it was great dancing music.

While the albums best two songs are the first two, the rest of the album is good, very good. Through the Storm is very heavy and hard rock in the Spinal Tap vein; One More Heartbreak an up tempo rocker; Change In My Life a solid ballad laced with appregiating guitars and thick sound (Moxy was a two Les Paul band).

Lead singer Buzz Shearman would self destruct after this album, and would be replaced by Mike Reno, then known as Mike Renowski, now known as "the chubby guy who used to sing for Loverboy." They would never recapture being this good, and it's too bad: the Canadian rock and roll scene would explode within a couple of years, and if Moxy had held it together there's no reason to believe they wouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Rush, Triumph or Loverboy. A great band who never attained that greatness - too bad.

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