Picks and Pans Review: Rock & Roll Strategy

updated 12/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Thirty Eight Special

Thirty Eight Special has gone out and really cleaned up its act. The result is a mess. The usually reliable Southern rockers sound so painfully fresh-scrubbed as to be almost unrecognizable on this album. Part of the problem must lie with the antiseptic production of Rodney Mills (Gregg Allman, the Cruzados), in which every element in the mix emerges as too crisp, too separate—these are guys who sounded pretty good muddy, after all. A more obvious culprit, however, is recent addition Max Carl (a former member of Jack Mack and the Heart Attack), whose keyboards and pop songwriting style all but dominate the record. It's also criminal the way singer Donnie Van Zant has been smoothed out and toned down to sound like a Tuscaloosa choirboy. Many of these songs have a good little rock lick buried somewhere in them, and a number of the guitar solos break loose and roar, but the overall impact is too bright-eyed and Top 40 ambitious. Rock & Roll Strategy is reeeeaaaal purty, boys. Now back to the drawing board. (A&M)

From Our Partners