City Slang: “Stereo Action Rent Party” revisited

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Continuing the theme of revisiting albums by bands playing the Blowout in a couple of weeks, we couldn’t ignore Matt Smith’s Outrageous Cherry, a band that has been playing live since ‘93 and releasing great records since ‘94. Smith and co play the Blowout on the Friday, headlining at the Atlas Bar.

Smith is an impressive pop / rock song writer, similar in style to fellow local boy Marshall Crenshaw, so it is mildly ironic that we are choosing to revisit a record made up of covers.

Where this album succeeds is in Smith’s desire to introduce the listener to obscure music. There are no easy choices here. Rather, the mainstay of the band has delved deep into his record collection and beyond and come up with a collection that is diverse, challenging, and immaculately performed.

For example, the Beach Boys might seem like an obvious choice for the Cherry to snag a song from. Smith shares a love of melody with the Californian legends. But there’s no “Good Vibrations” here, and certainly no “I Get Around”. Rather, we get a super-cool rendition of “Wonderful”, originally intended for Smile.

That, along with the MC5’s “Miss X” and Television’s “Days” are perhaps the best known songs on here. But the treats are spread over the whole record. The cover of British psychedelic folkie Kevin Ayers’ “Song From the Bottom of a Well” is superb, and the Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain” is arguably better than the original (although that may be personal – I’ve never liked Morrissey’s voice).

The album ends magnificently, with Leonard Cohen’s “A Bunch of Lonesome Heroes” and “Make the World Go Away” (recorded by Timi Yuro, Eddy Arnold, Donny & Marie Osmond and, originally, by Ray Price). Every song on the record is given the Smith stamp, and we are left with a record that sounds like an Outrageous Cherry album.

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