Forgotten series: Artful Dodger – Honor Among Thieves (1976)

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by Beverly Paterson

From Ohio came Artful Dodger, who for a brief moment there, were tagged the next big thing. The band’s live shows were energetic affairs, and their discs gathered ringing endorsements from the press. But despite the fact they delivered the dynamite, they remained a local phenomenon, rendering them a cult favorite.

Here on Artful Dodger’s second album, Honor Among Thieves (Columbia Records), the band struts their stuff with purpose and confidence. A hard-rocking bluesy bent bleeds through the material, compounded by pockets of potent pop impulses. The title track of the record opens the proceedings with a burst of jangling six-string activity before morphing into a rough and ready repertoire devised of gutsy arena rock concessions. The vocals have just the right amount of sneer to give the song a swaggering sheen, and the band’s performance is seamlessly tight and together.

Further helpings of meat and potatoes rock are served on tunes like “Keep Me Happy,” “Remember,” “Hey Boys,” and “Not Enough.” Muscular chops partnered with Artful Dodger’s in sync timing prompt the their songs to tick and click the way they do. The spit and polish of “Good Fun,” which flings a shot of doo-wop harmonies into the brew for a smile and a chuckle, recalls the nice and tidy pop persuasions of Paul McCartney and Badfinger, where the acoustic riddled “Scream” and “Dandelion” unveil Artful Dodger’s forte for spooling out ballads.

Artful Dodger’s marriage of Humble Pie-flavored boogie rock and power pop may not have been the most enterprising sound around, but one can’t fault the attitude and enthusiasm behind their efforts. Transmitting a style that would have sat comfortably on either top forty radio or the FM dial, “Honor Among Thieves” checks in as an above average slice of bar band rock and roll.

And that, is of course, a compliment.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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