Mike Roy’s first solo album features fourteen tracks by the long-time guitarist and founding member of pioneering Boston new wave band Fox Pass as well as Mercury recording artist Tom Dickie and the Desires. “Land of Forgotten Dreams” blasts things off at 3:27 proclaiming that the veteran performer has no intention of dropping the rock. The 4:48 of “Barely There” is a luxurious riff (think 2nd side of Abbey Road) that is an instrospective lament while “Stop The Rain” owes nothing to Creedence. More like a John Lennon Starting Over track if Darryl Hall and John Oates were collaborating with the Beatle. Stompers/Fox Pass rhythm section Steve Gilligan (Bass) and Lenny Shea Jr. (Drums) would make you possibly think that this is 3/4 Pass, but it is not. The lethal Gilligan/Shea combo doesn’t always have to play like Yardbirds to quote a review of Live Yardbirds”…ex-rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja bumped over on bass, Jim McCarty on effective drumming” which the liner notes to that classic disc called “twin-steam shovels” – a favorite line of Fox Pass colleague Fred Pineau (who has the same initials as Fox Pass.)
The 4 minutes plus of “On a Sunday” bring another brooding moment which blends into the uptempo “Your Own Way.” Roy seems to be looking back on these songs, and they would have been nice additions to the Desires albums for sure. “The Difference” and “In a Well” both clock in at four minutes and seventeen seconds each, “In a Well,” perhaps, the most likely candidate to be re-cut by Fox Pass for an album sometime in the future. “Wherever You Are” features the background vocals of Nancy Francis (not to be confused with long-time Fox Pass associate Nancy Neon) and that’s it for musicians, Shea, Gilligan and Francis buoy this extremely good solo recording from Mike Roy who plays every other instrument himself, a kind of Emmit Rhodes / Paul McCartney break-away from the full band Roy co-founded.
“Heartless” has fragments from the Crowded House hit “Something So Strong” – the first line of “Heartless”, “How can I begin” mirroring “Love can make you weep.” But it diverts quickly before going into “He’s So Fine’/”My Sweet Lord” territory so Tommy Mottola won’t have to come calling… Outside of the opening track (3:27,) “Heartless” (3:04), song 11 “Say Goodbye” (not Fox Pass classic “When I Say Goodbye) and track 13, “Wired to Wonderland” (2:38) the material veers mostly into four minute territory. There are many songs that are extremely appealing, but the 5:35 “Water from the Moon” is my favorite, thus far.
With bassist Steve Gilligan releasing multiple CDs, and Jon Macey’s Actuality In Process, Intenion and collaboration with Gilligan, Everything Under the Sun, it’s amazing that this is Michael J. Roy’s solo debut. “You’re Own Way” and “Water from the Moon” are catchy and memorable, so much material to absorb in what is certainly a burst of creative energy. Can’t wait for the next.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.