Various Artists - Striking 12 (Music CD)

Release Date: 04 April 2011
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On Striking 12: The New GrooveLily Musical, the adult alternative pop/rock trio GrooveLily presents what used to be called a rock opera, at least when acts like the Who constructed albums that had stories running through them. Recorded live, Striking 12 is a sort of postmodern musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's short story "The Little Match Girl" ("a rewired version," as the group puts it) in which a Grumpy Guy, sitting at home on New Year's Eve in the present day, reads the 19th century story and relates it to his own life. As if that framing device wasn't enough, the group also breaks down the fourth wall on occasion, such as when drummer Gene Lewin pipes up to complain about the choice of story (he would have preferred "The Little Drummer Boy") and to sing his own song, "Give the Drummer Some." It's all in holiday fun, of course, and the interrelated stories provide a basis for some of GrooveLily's witty, melodic pop/rock tunes. The group leans toward the sound of several '70s keyboard-based acts, notably Elton John and Billy Joel (and, if anyone remembers him, Lee Michaels), while the addition of Valerie Vigoda's electric violin brings in a distinct resemblance to Bruce Hornsby & the Range. This is crowd-pleasing music, and recording it live was a good idea, since it is also somewhat precious, and the audience approval makes that less noticeable. GrooveLily can be a little too clever for their own good, and they don't quite escape the downbeat ending of "The Little Match Girl," even by rewriting it in present-day story. So, the disc shouldn't be shelved with the Christmas albums, just as it isn't really a musical. It's a GrooveLily album, and it works fine as such. ~ William Ruhlmann
Release Date: 04 April 2011

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Catalogue No: PS526