"The Ponzi Scheme" (Cherry/Universal; 1998)firewater.jpg (24975 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Imagine a hard-boiled detective novel (and we're talking late era Mickey Spillane here; when Mike Hammer took on evil communists bent on destroying the American way) transformed into a rock'n'roll musical and you've got a pretty good idea of what "The Ponzi Scheme" sounds like. It's a gritty, horny, smoke and bourbon type of rock'n'roll record. Not a breath of fresh air but a lungful of gray barroom smoke. It's hot, it's smart and damn if it doesn't rock.

This isn't a guitars-and-drums-only kind of album. "The Ponzi Scheme" has got it all. The typical guitars and drums are there, of course, but so are violins, saxophones, pianos, organs, cellos, accordions, trombones and even piccolos. And they're all tied together with a noir-ish sound and ultra-cool lyrics. Check these from "Green Light": "Moon's throwing daggers at the targets on the street; Trucks wipe the sweat off their eyes; The brain is making promises the body cannot keep; You duck inside a doorway and you change into your favorite disguise." Hell, it even reads like a hard-boiled detective novel.

Bassist/vocalist Tod A, formerly of COP SHOOT COP, says of "The Ponzi Scheme," "It's the long-awaited musical return to Cold War paranoia." That may or may not be true. But "The Ponzi scheme" is certainly a refreshingly novel rock record that must be heard to be truly appreciated.

Firewater: Tod A, Bass/Vocals; Oren Kaplan, guitar; Hahn Rowe, Violin; George Javori, drums; Tim Otto, saxophone; Paul Wallfish, piano organ. Plus guest musicians.

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 1998 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10 Jan 2019 01:27:05 -0500 .