Naming your band the Olympic Ass Kickin’ Team hints at no
small measure of bravado. If anything, the cards are all laid out from the
get-go. Not surprisingly then, Terry Anderson and company don’t demure when it
comes to unabashedly baring their influences. Theirs is a motif firmly rooted
in old school sounds, freely pilfering a template set by the Stones, the Faces
and such illicit offspring as Mott the Hoople, the New York Dolls, Johnny
Thunders and NRBQ. Indeed, their cocky
swagger and devil-may-care attitude do those forebears proud.
Anderson’s own history really ranks as little more than a
footnote. A product of the fertile North Carolina music scene, he worked with
such minor outfits as the Woods and the Knobs prior to hoisting himself from
his drum stool and offering his songs to a few fellow travelers. The Georgia
Satellites tapped his rowdy rave-up “Battleship Chains” and later, the
Satellites’ leader, Dan Baird, extended the association by appropriating “I
Love You Period,” for his solo debut.
Anderson then cut three relatively obscure solo albums (You Don’t Like Me, What Else Can Go
Right and I’ll Drink to That)
before casting his fortunes with
this present band of rowdy rockers.
That said, National Champions, the group’s second
studio set, offers little in the way of real surprises, and if anything, the
aforementioned references become all the more obvious. The brazen bluster embossing “Goin’ Or
Comin'” finds shades of Exile-era
Stones reeling at the fore, just as the cleverly titled “You Had Me At Get
Lost” reeks of pure, mid-period Faces. The associations are further extended
via “Lost Your Number,” its forlorn wail recalling a rare moment where Keef or
Woody are allowed to croon at center stage. However the best songs are those
that marry wit and resolve – the appropriately infectious “Willie Mays,” an
homage to the athlete who lends his name to the title, and “Pow’ful ‘Merka,” a
patriotic parody sung with tongue firmly lodged in cheek. Even so, aside from a
detour into pure pop realms via “About You,” and a bit of balladry with “Wrong
For That,” the variance in tone is limited to that which falls between a rant
and a wail.
However, that’s just
fine. With attitude and amplitude,
Anderson’s intentions leave little room for second-guessing. Clearly, the Olympic Ass Kickin’ Team
delivers on their promise.
Standout tracks: “Willie Mays,” “Pow’ful Merka,” “About You”