Thursday, April 04, 2013

Doug Cowen & The Basics - Tommy's Place (2013)

Front cover of CD
On their fourth release, Tommy's Place, Doug Cowen & The Basics have shunned their own songwriting and recorded an album full of songs by a musician they admire, the late Tommy Thompson. Thompson, who was apparently a revered local legend in South Bend, Indiana came awfully close to hitting the big time but never quite made it. (Having never heard him play I'll just have to take Cowen's word for it).

The rocker, who was a close friend of The Basics' leader and briefly a member of the trio, died way too young of a heart attack at age 49.

It may seem odd to you that a band hardly anyone has heard play outside of their hometown recorded a tribute to someone who only earned a bit more traction than The Basics have because, on the surface, the album's initial appeal to someone who lives, say, in British Columbia, would be zero. However, I've been impressed with this throwback garage band for a decade now and regardless of the circumstances surrounding the CD's creation good rock 'n roll is universal.

Listen to the ten cover songs guitarist and lead singer Cowen, bassist Charlie Neises, and drummer Ben Hahaj have recorded for this set without the quaint, provincial notion that it's just some local bar band playing the music of some other local bar band and you'll come away quite impressed.

With influences everywhere from the British Invasion to The Smithereens and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers the group's latest CD rocks from start to finish. There are no real ballads. Even the quieter songs have an edge to them.

Inside front cover

The package's cover art is appealing too. The inside, front cover shows The Basics sitting around a bar with Thompson tending to their needs reminiscent of Edward Hooper's 1942 painting, "Nighthawks." Because of how Thompson's life and career ended so suddenly and tragically a more relevant work and title may actually be Gottfried Helnwein's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" his satire of Hooper's painting.

Tommy's Place is available on both mp3 and CD from Amazon and you can visit the band on ReverbNation.

Here's the official Basics video for "Cinderella", one of the songs on the CD.

Finally, you can listen to a whole bunch of tracks from all four of the band's releases on the music player below.


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