Gary U.S. Bonds
Back in 20
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2004, Volume 11, #7
Written by John Metzger
The title of Gary U.S. Bondsí latest effort Back in 20 pokes fun at the singerís strange habit of slipping onto the mainstream radar every two decades. Born Gary Anderson, he first gained the publicís attention in the early í60s when he scored a hit with New Orleans, though his career undoubtedly was helped when a local record producer issued the song under the moniker of U.S. Bonds in the hopes that distracted disc jockeys would think the platter was a public service announcement. After a handful of other successes, which included the timeless Quarter to Three, Bonds virtually disappeared only to reemerge in the early í80s with Bruce Springsteen by his side. Propelled by the understandably massive publicity push, he once again became a star, though this surge in interest also was relatively short-lived.
Bondsí most recent rebirth Back in 20 re-teams the R&B sensation with Springsteen. This time, however, The Bossí presence is limited to one track ó the opening cut Canít Teach an Old Dog New Tricks ó although Dickey Betts, Southside Johnny, and Phoebe Snow also join the celebration, respectively adding guitar, harmonica, and vocals to several other tunes. Much like all of Bondsí efforts, however, the collection is largely a perfunctory, yet eminently enjoyable set that inhabits a happy-go-lucky space of grooving, horn-driven, blues-based rhythms and is perfectly suited for a Saturday night of cavorting in the roadhouses of middle America. Ironically, itís during the latter half of the album ó after he jettisons his sidekicks ó that Back in 20 springs to life with arrangements that swing without distraction, thereby allowing Bondís emotive, soulful self to bubble to the surface.
Back in 20 is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box