Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Connection: Just For Fun!

Boy, this year is ending with some killer releases! As I teased a couple of weeks back, The Connection has done something totally fun and released an all-covers album to close out 2016. Titled Just For Fun, the album came out this past Friday as a digital release via Bandcamp. A physical release will follow early next year, and Rum Bar Records has already opened CD pre-orders.

While I'm definitely jonesing for some all-new material from The Connection, I am enjoying the hell out of Just For Fun. I wish more bands did this sort of thing! When I come across fantastic songwriters like Brad and Geoff, I'm always curious about which songwriters they admire. Here The Connection pays homage to some obvious influences (Dictators, Rolling Stones, Dave Edmunds, Buddy Holly) as well as ripping into some killer tunes that are just super fun to cover (Bob Seger's 1974 scorcher "Get Out Of Denver", George Thorogood's AOR smash "Get A Haircut"). The band makes no attempt to "top" the source material (it's literally impossible to improve "Get Out of Denver" or The Dictators' "Stay With Me"). But it does a great job of making Just For Fun sound like a Connection record. If you didn't know any better, you might even think that the likes of "I Can Read Between The Lines" (Gary Lewis and the Playboys) and "Streets Of Baltimore" (Tompall & the Glaser Brothers/Bobby Bare/Gram Parsons) were Connection originals! "Stay With Me" is an all-time top five favorite song for me. In theory, I should be completely opposed to any band attempting to touch it. But ya know what? I genuinely love The Connection's version, and I would be shocked if Andy Shernoff doesn't love it too! All of these tracks show great reverence for the original versions, but the band still manages to put that Connection signature on them.

I think part of what makes rock n' roll such a vital form of music is that it continues to honor its roots. And considering that most "oldies" radio stations now play almost nothing from prior to 1970, it's largely up to the newer bands to keep these old songs alive. That's why I never view a cover song as "filler" or a "throwaway", and that's why I find great value in all-covers albums like Just For Fun. If The Connection's cover of "Southern Girls" convinces just one person to seek out Cheap Trick's classic original, that's a total win! Produced by Brad and Geoff, Just For Fun was made with the involvement of a lot of super talented people. B-Face (The Queers, Groovie Ghoulies) plays bass on a few tracks, and the great Kris Rodgers is a monster on the keyboards as always. The album was mixed by Mike Kennerty (The All-American Rejects) and mastered by legendary pop-punk producer Mass Giorgini. Of course it sounds like a million bucks, and I can't imagine any Connection fan not wanting to have it! Favorite tracks for me are "I Can Read Between The Lines" (Gary Lewis, to me, is an unappreciated great of '60s pop) and the aforementioned "Stay With Me". And kudos to the band for picking a somewhat lesser-known Stones song ("No Expectations") and totally nailing it. Download Just For Fun today for just eight bucks! 


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