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The Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon,” with its grousing about the taxman taking “all my dough,” might refer on the sly to Drake Bell’s ongoing bankruptcy, just as sardonic observations elsewhere on the glitter life sound like a 27-year-old celebrity blessed with only bankruptcy as his biggest problem. He wants the rockabilly groove with the Beach Boys mixed in for richness, and thanks to Brian Setzer, among others, his dreams come true. The male backing vocals sound uncannily like Brian Wilson and Company; the female vocals sound full and earnest, at least.

He doesn’t quite have the vocal presence or dominance to pry the better-known songs away from their originators, although swapping out saxophone for guitar on Billy Joel’s signature song “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” makes for a bracingly strange new texture. The non-classic fare gives Bell better wet cement to imprint. “Runaway Boys” has all the bristle and righteousness of a lad on the loose but acknowledges in surprising frankness that the kid won’t be able to work, will run out of quarters, and after that there’s nothing for him but the streets and/or crime. “Give Me a Little More Time” finds that same young man old enough to drink but still nowhere to go, no one to confide in except the bartender, who’s probably got a stiff neck from nodding and smiling. Dying young might be dashing. Growing gives pains. But pain reminds you you’re still in the game.

  • Artist: Drake Bell
  • Album: Ready Steady Go
  • Label: Surfdog
  • Songs: (1) Sunny Afternoon (2) Bull (3) Runaway Boys (4) Bitchcraft (5) Runaway Boys (6) Makes Me Happy (7) It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (8) Melina (9) Crazy Little Thing Called Love (10) California Man (11) Back of My Hand (12) Give Me a Little More Time
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