After the Complaints released the driving CD singles, “Trade Up,” and the Chris Lord-Alge produced “South Side Suicide,” they bring the angst down a few notches for this release, Talk to Me, an exquisitely packaged and beautifully crafted collection of eight compositions along with a reworking of the first track, “The View.” And it is a perfect way to open and close the disc, both renditions subtle and commanding, it’s the kind of melody and lyric that Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, and the Eagles would certainly wish they came up with. Dean Petrella – vocalist, guitarist, keyboard player, wrote the majority of the words (except “Mountains” which the liners note was written and performed by The Complaints and Adam Go.) “The View” opens and closes the disc though it metamorphoses into two different perspectives a la George Harrison’s “Isn’t it a Pity” on All Things Must Pass, a light poppy venture to begin the journey, a darker quasi-dance mix to bring this very strong album to its conclusion. Play both “View” renditions back to back and it is most revealing.
Co-produced by the band and legendary engineer Phil Greene (Buddy Guy, John Cafferty/Beaver Brown, New Kids on the Block – as well as guitarist with the vastly underrated Swallow on Warner Brothers) the album is balanced and compelling. “Hanging Out” is one of four songs (of the 9 tracks) that hit the 3:52 mark, time-wise, most of the material clocking in around 2:40 – 3:20, short and sweet and making the point. It’s an easy going dissertation, at least by pop standards, with the next track, “Atlas (Carry You)” a minute shorter. Both tracks – “Hanging Out” and “Atlas” Triple-A rock with authority. And has it been 17-18 years since the Complaints released the Fear disc, with Criminal Mind in 2002? This veteran group just grows stronger through the years like fine wine and this recording has real staying power throughout.
“Wouldn’t Change A Thing,” track five, has all the markings of a radio-friendly composition with the potential to be memorable. “Talk To Me,” which precedes it, also has that captivating mood. Phil Greene and the Complaints smartly combine their talents to create something very special. Each tune has its own identity, and the sequencing is perfect as the listener is taken on a journey. From “Breathe,” not the Pink Floyd song, to “Home,” drop the needle/sequence button anywhere and there’s something entertaining and thought-provoking within.
Chris Cruz on bass and vocals, Anthony Marotti on drums/vocals and Dean Petrella are The Complaints. Add “Trade Up” and “Southside Suicide” to this disc as bonus tracks and you have an amazing set of recordings.
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.