"Springhead Motorshark" (Spitfire; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Britny Fox's long-awaited return to the studio, "Springhead Motorshark," is a frustrating yet still entertaining collection of songs that bring back the memory of the old Britny Fox and give us a strong look at the new.

The band's first studio CD since 1991's "Bite Down Hard" is a mostly successful disc containing its share of 80s-type rockers and ballads. The band obviously hasn't lost any of its songwriting skills (although the ballad "LA" comes close to being intolerably slow and sappy). Fans of the band's earlier work, especially "Bite Down Hard" (which also featured current lead vocalist Tommy Paris; the band's first two albums did not) will no doubt find plenty to enjoy on "Springhead Motorshark." The new CD sounds somewhat more mature than the band's previous work, but that's to be expected - and welcomed - after a more-than-a-decade hiatus.

The biggest problem with the CD is the questionable production. Sometimes, the recording is so murky the entire track seems to be being played through a filter. In fact, the CD begins with such a weird filter problem - the opening chords of "Pain" sound as though someone forgot to hit a certain switch and the music is just bleeding through from another source. I'm sure this was a stylistic choice by the producers (bandmembers Tommy Paris and Michael Kelly Smith) but it just doesn't work. The same effect is used at other times in other songs to much the same detriment. Other songs are just badly mixed. Still others are just fine - hence the frustration mentioned above.

Once you can get past the distracting production, "Springhead Motorshark" does what it's supposed to - bring a successful band from the 80s back to the present.

Also included are two live music videos, "Closer To Your Love" and "Long Way to Love" plus "Dream On" an animated video that makes "South Park" look like Disney's best. Still fun, though.

Britny Fox: Tommy Paris - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards; Michael Kelly Smith - lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Billy Childs - bass, backing vocals; Johnny Dee - drums.

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"Long Way To Live!" (Spitfire; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Britny Fox originally formed in 1986 and, as that date indicates, went on to play some very popular 80s style, guitar-driven, hard rock. They released three successful albums, generating record sales of over 1.5 million, and then - like too many bands of that era - seemed to fade away into nothing. Recently, the band reformed and signed a deal with Spitfire Records with the first release being this live performance recorded on their reunion tour in the spring of 2000.

Those who remember Britny Fox will immediately get into this chunky, screaming, party rock album. It's a live album like live albums are meant to be: raw, rough and rock solid. The songs are the typical hard rock anthems and the band obviously has a good time performing them. Just listen to the between-song rants: these guys are having a good time.

True, some of the tunes don't hold up as well over the years as others. But there's 60 minutes of music on the CD which means that for every song that's a little weak there's another that's strong. And even the songs that don't stand up well to the test of time are played with raucous pleasure by the band. Most of the time, that more than makes up for the dated tunes.

Speaking of tunes, for the record, "A Long Way to Live" also contains a live rendition of "Turn On" which was previously available only as a studio version on an MCA/Nintendo compilation called "White Knuckle Scorin'." 

Will "Long Way to Live!" win Britny Fox any new fans? Probably not. But that isn't what it's meant to do. It's meant to give the band's current fans a reminder of what they liked about the band and to remind us all what a live rock'n'roll show is about: playing live loud and lewd and having a good time while you're there.

BRITNY FOX is: Tommy Paris, Michael Kelly Smith, Billy Childs, Johnny Dee. 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jun 2018 20:14:11 -0400 .