Being inspired by the Beatles is always a tricky proposition. For every ballsy bravado psychedelic copycat like Oasis (and I say that with a measure of trepidation) there’s a one-hit (or two-hit) uninspired might-as-well-be-a-tribute-band like The Knack. (though “good girls don’t” remains a favorite of mine).
So what do you do when a band like The Rosewood Thieves comes along? Not only that, but they come along with a record like Heartaches By The Pound which is an album of covers of Solomon Burke songs. You give them the benefit of the doubt. Their publicist sent me a link to download the Solomon Burke record and 2008’s Rise and Shine. While both are well-crafted, genuinely enjoyable Beatles-inflected rock, the album of Solomon Burke covers shows the band to its best effect. It harnesses their youthful energy and brings their considerable talent to bear on the oeuvre of one of the great legends of American popular music.
You could do worse than channeling the Beatles channeling Solomon Burke. After all, John Lennon’s Rock & Roll was a touchstone for many a young rocker, introducing a whole generation to the work of his predecessors. Most folks agree that young bands benefit from getting their chops together through imitation. The gap between the quality of the songwriting on display between Rise and Heartaches is noticeable. Burke wrote from experience that these kids haven’t had yet, and the music was very much of his time. While the Rosewood Thieves have done a fantastic job – these are definitely talented musicians – in reviving the sound, they haven’t quite matured as songwriters. The craft is impressive, the soul and hard-won voice of experience is not yet there.
Still, I am not dismissing the record out of hand, there are some strong tracks there – but if you want a good intro to the band, start with Heartaches By The Pound and keep following this promising group – good things are in store.