I've been a fan of The Hooters for a long time, back before anyone outside of Philadelphia knew who they were, back when their songs more often than not possessed a ska or reggae influence. Those songs, and constant gigging all over the metropolitan area, cemented their reputation as a great live band. A few staples of their early 1980's stage show, most notably "All You Zombies" ended up on their major label debut, Nervous Night in 1985. However, with it's release they lost most of the reggae influences in their music as they became a slick 80s middle of the road hit maker.
Even so, the boys from The City Of Brotherly Love still offered a more distinctive sound than most 80s bands. They didn't live or die with the synthesizer and, in addition to the traditional lineup of rock instruments, they also employed accordion, concertina, mandolin, and the instrument from which the band took their name, the melodica, also known by its nickname, the hooter. It is largely because of these instruments that their songs are instantly recognizable as Hooters songs.
The band has always been led by keyboardist/vocalist Rob Hyman, who doubles on the hooter, and Eric Bazilian on lead vocals and guitar. Together they write almost all of the quintet's music. They have also done a lot of work outside of the band, much of it more successful than The Hooters own albums. Bazilian wrote "One Of Us" for Joan Osborne and Hyman co-wrote Cindy Lauper's big hit "Time after Time" with her.
The Hooters made quite a splash with the release of the platinum selling Nervous Night and they opened Live Aid that same year. However, none of their succeeding albums were as commercially successful as their debut and each one sold less than its predecessor. While American audiences moved on to other bands The Hooters became one of the biggest acts in Germany where they are still much loved today.
The band has recently reunited and stormed back with their first new studio CD in fourteen years, Time Stand Still. In addition to Hyman and Bazilian, the group's classsic lineup is back. Fran Smith Jr., bassist on the band's last two studio albums before they disbanded, is here. Also on board is guitarist John Lilley who joined in time for Nervous Night. Original drummer Dave Uosikkinen is also back.
Time Stand Still is mostly a typical Hooters album. All of the standard elements are there but a few surprises do pop up. "Morning Buzz" features a mandolin and some ridiculous barnyard noises as the guys use an acoustic format to sing about how great they feel in the morning. It also appears that the good feeling may be artificially induced but perhaps I'm reading too much into the lyrics of what is a rather dumb song. "Catch Of the Day" is an anthem about the joys of fishing that could be construed as a companion piece to "Morning Buzz" even though it's a better song. Based on those two tracks it sounds as if Hyman and Bazilian don't do a lot with their free time. "Free Again" ends with the full band jamming their hearts out. The Hooters are not a jam band but they offer up some very effective riffing on the song's long coda. There is also a fine acoustic cover of Don Henley's "Boys Of Summer." The rest is what you would expect from The Hooters.
The CD's lyrical content is mostly too upbeat to please the rock press who immediately dismiss anything that isn't hard edged or depressing. The disc opens with, "I'm Alive," a high powered celebration of life. The Hooters are a happy bunch and it shows. The track is made for radio and deserves to be a hit.
Time Stand Still may not be vintage Hooters but it's still nice to have the Philly boys back.