First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by Brad Podray
Drums, upright bass, guitar, saxophone, and bagpipes ó if a band has these components in place, itís nearly impossible for it to go wrong, and in the case of Smarten Up!, Taxi Chain certainly doesnít stumble. Thereís little doubt that the album is a tad quirky, but it also features enough originality to give the ensemble a significant advantage over its bar band counterparts. The aforementioned usage of bagpipes is sprinkled liberally throughout the outing, but itís done in a respectably fashionable manner, especially on the title track as well as on the oddly titled James Brown Ate My Bagpipe. The opening track Memphis is also a highlight, simply because it captures the magical mood of the city for which it was named. Granted, the collection as a whole lacks an edge, but the sterling sax work of Jim Bish adds a dash of spice to the ordeal. Heavy on jazz, Smarten Up! also features forays into southern rock and Eastern mysticism. Indeed, from the fields of Scotland to the cities of India to the highways of Memphis, Taxi Chain delivers a panoramic journey that circles the globe. Ĺ
Smarten Up! is available from
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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