So there’s this band I like and have written about a few times. You may have heard about them by now – The Bongos. This album, Drums Along The Hudson, is ranked by me in the Top 10 of “Most Important/Influential Albums Ever” – I’m not going to pretend to be objective and over-analytical about this record. I have played it countless times over the 32, 33 years I’ve had it. My vinyl edition on PVC/Jem has white grooves in it; the Line Records CD pressing from Germany was of so-so quality and the Cooking Vinyl edition was nice but gone almost as quickly as it hit the market. This is an album that is very near and dear to me. It inspired me in countless ways.
Now… this beloved album is back where it belongs – re-issued with beautiful packaging and liner notes by Matt Pinfield – on Marty Scott’s Jem Recordings, the reborn label that first gave us The Bongos in the U.S. It’s only fitting and brings everything full circle – re-released on the label it originally appeared on. And it sounds as energetic and fresh today as it did then. From the explosive opening of “In The Congo” to (insert slightly wry laugh, due to in-joke) “The Bulrushes” and over to “Clay Midgets”, you cannot help but be bowled over by this band’s electricity and energy. You want to catch your breath but can’t as the manic “Video Eyes” kicks in and steamrolls its way into “Glow In The Dark” – seatbelts for this ride are in order. Now, I still think in terms of “album”, so side two tears you up with the frenetic instrumental “Burning Bush”, the epic “Hunting” and the always brilliant “Zebra Club”. Side two is where you would also find the band’s stomping version of T. Rex’s “Mambo Sun”.
Since I have to make the transition from album to CD to further entice you, let me make this simple and clear: as soon as you start the CD, it flows, non-stop. There is no reason to stop or skip any songs – this is one of those very rare albums that has no filler, no “clunkers”, no bad songs. It’s a fucking masterpiece for the ages. There is also a previously-unreleased track included, “Nuts And Bolts”, which as many of you know, became the title for the album by Richard Barone and James Mastro. As well, live tracks are plentiful – from their first recorded show to their initial gigs in London. Finally, it includes the 2007 remake of “The Bulrushes”, which was done with Moby.
Whether you are a fan of The Bongos or have never heard them before, this album is a true “must have” for any collection, especially if you love/appreciate hooks, structure, pop and power. Not many bands can deliver in this manner – and while it’s known that Drums Along The Hudson was put together by using The Bongos’ U.K. singles and mini-lp, this is a flawless introductory bow. Get it now and play it loud… repeatedly.