The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco – Not For Everyone (2017)

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What’s the difference between an electric piano and an acoustic one? In the right hands apparently not much, quality-wise.

The enigmatic guys from Essex, England who call themselves The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco have been satisfying my jones for handmade, heady 70s-style rock with hooks that don’t make you feel guilty to enjoy. Moreover, they found in rock music a place for keyboards again as a means to deliver the melody with equal status to guitar…the kind that’s actually played, not programmed.

Such cultivation has drawn them favorable comparisons to Steely Dan and the like (guilty as charged) but that comparison was accentuated by the regular use of an electric piano. For their latest trick Not For Everyone, the only keyboard heard is one of the acoustic kind, making this album markedly distinctive from all their prior LPs and EPs. Which brings us to the question posed at the beginning, as well as the answer in the case of The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco.

The ol’ Wurlitzer might be missing, but nothing else is, including sharp songwriting, buoyant vibes and a sly wit that assures you that they might be taking their craft seriously but not too seriously. If anything, the Tail-Fins take advantage of the semi-unplugged attack to reveal many more sources of inspiration than what they’ve shown in the past, all pre-1980 influences.

The old school R ‘n’ B number “15 Hands” will remind boomers of the Fontella Bass/Bobby McClure hit “Don’t Mess with a Good Thing” and “Cold Cuts” could have been something Todd Rundgren conjured up. “Commodore Rooms 1975-76” isn’t reminiscent of a certain funk band (it’s a waltz) but that signature humor pops up in the catch line “your heart is good but your head’s made of wood.”

“The Claw of Charrua” is a good song to tango to, and the Spanish ditty “’65 Rioja” continues the Latin love affair. Folk ballads like “The Fisherman” and “Happier With Horses” are downright sentimental but judiciously stop short of sappy.

Not For Everyone may be just what it posits to be, but it’s also free for everyone, available for download for no charge via Bandcamp beginning on June 2, 2017.

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