Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Amplifier Heads - Songs from They Came To Rock

Songs from They Came To Rock
, the fifth album by The Amplifier Heads, is the most essential soundtrack album to be released in a good while. They Came To Rock, Norty Cohen's immersive rock opera about an alien invasion of the most unexpected kind, debuted in Nashville in 2021. Sal Baglio, who wrote many of the songs which appear in the theatrical production, recently got together with a whole bunch of his talented friends and made a proper rock and roll album out of They Came To Rock. The concept for the story is the stuff of genius: in 1947, the birth of rock and roll brought aliens to our planet in search of these wondrous sounds they were picking up on their radios. 

It makes complete sense if you think about it. Alien civilizations with the advanced technology and brain power required to defy what we believe to be the laws of physics would not likely have been impressed by our centuries of human achievements — but then they would have heard rock and roll, and that would have been a mind-blower. What extraterrestrial society wouldn't be seduced by this miraculous form of music  — which immediately ignites the soul of any sentient being and provokes a frenzy of dancing and singing and uninhibited joy? Of course the aliens would have wanted in on the action! They would have marveled at how these tiny-brained Earthlings could have created something so sublime. Combining alleged true events with pure fantasy, this collection of songs tells the story of what happened when those little green men from galaxies far away came here with one single motive: to rock! The album mixes in various audio "transmissions" to give context to the songs, and I can't help thinking that I would have totally freaked if I'd heard something like this when I was six years old and space-crazed. It's like War of the Worlds meets "Let There Be Rock," and I am here for it! 

In style and sprit, the songs from They Came To Rock resemble what extraterrestrials actually would have heard if they'd be tuned into Planet Earth's airwaves in the mid–20th century. You'll hear everything from rhythm & blues to country to first generation rock and roll to '60s beat and garage rock to out-of-this-world '70s glam. Part of Baglio's brilliance was in picking the right vocalist for each song. Any aliens hearing Barrence Whitfield belt out the title track will immediately be scheduling return trips to experience the thrill of Earthling rock and roll. The legendary Allen Estes gives "They Heard My Radio" classic country vibes. "Dead Star" sounds like a song that Dan Kopko was literally born to sing. "That Girl Betty" succeeds in recreating the Phil Spector wall of sound for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the extraordinary vocal talents of Jen D'Angora and Samantha Goddess. I'm such a fan of Jen D'Angora as a songwriter and musician that I sometimes don't fully appreciate what a great singer she is. Her lead vocal on the old school rocker "Something Went Down" is something special. Baglio is no slouch on vocals either, breathing extraterrestrial cool into "Bienvenue" and perfectly mimicking Elvis Presley on "The Moon Rocks." "Space Cadette" brings to mind dancing aliens on spaceships jetting across the galaxy. 

For They Came To Rock to succeed, the songs were going to have to be convincing. The premise doesn't work if you don't hear these tunes and believe that aliens would hear this stuff and totally lose their minds. Thankfully —  as this Amplifier Heads' soundtrack album demonstrates — these songs totally deliver. Songs from They Came To Rock can stand alone as a great spacey garage rock album and companion piece to The Amplifier Heads' third album SaturnalienS. On another level, you might find yourself getting lost in the story and eagerly awaiting a revival of the theatrical production. Get the CD now from  Rum Bar Records, your intergalactic home of the hits!

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