I was recently asked to review Cincinnati Clutch Hits, a 17-track CD of local musicians singing about the Reds, and baseball in general. The album is a fund-raising vehicle for the Reds Community Fund. My credentials as a music writer pretty much consist of having 4800 tracks on my iPod, and subscribing to Paste, so hang with me.
The project was the brainchild of George Foster, of all people, and is “presented” by Buddy Roger’s Music. Overall, the album is better than I expected. It’s uneven, but that’s to be expected from a compilation. The producers really have covered all genres, from funk, power pop, acoustic singer-songwriter. I like all these types of music, but not always back-to-back. Probably the best way to say it is that everyone’s going to find something to like on this disc, though I can’t guarantee that you’ll like everything. All the songs are original (except Peter Frampton’s bizarre live version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), which is a nice touch. It’s priced at $15 online, at the ballpark, and possibly at Buddy Roger’s Music stores.
The album starts off with Marty Brennaman introducing the “lineup.” This track is notable only if (like me) you’re amused at hearing Marty say “Freekbass.” Speaking of Freekbass, he’s a Cincinnati-born funk bassist who received his stage name from the legendary Bootsy Collins (who recorded that Bengals song last fall himself). His track, “Reds Fan” is a pretty straightforward funk number, spiced up with samples from Marty’s game calls.
I really enjoyed the personal songs from Kinsey Rose (“Daddy’s Glove”), Jen (“Score”), and Noah Hunt (“Under the Lights”). These are very solid songs that could stand on their own, without the Reds/baseball connection. The same goes for Jake Speed & The Freddies‘ inventive bluegrass tribute to Joe Nuxhall (“Old Man Joe”), which is probably the best track on the disc.
“Rural soul” band Blessid Union of Souls contributes a couple of tracks from their 2003 Reds-themed album, Play Ball, as well as a new one (“Lost in the Lights”) with California band Chalkie. From what I understand, they played these songs “Play Ball” and “Me, Marty, Joe, Ted &Louise” at the ballpark a lot. They’re not really my thing, but I like their devotion to the Reds.
Screaming Mimes (“Three Cheers, Cincinnati” and “The Big Show”), and And Andy (“Wire to Wire”) offer power pop tracks coupled with play-by-play samples (real and staged) from Marty and George Grande.
Raquel Aurilia (Rich’s wife) is a talented vocalist and a pretty good songwriter (Red-hot
Mama agrees). While her “Heart of a Hero” actually sounds pretty good, I can’t get over the fact that it’s an arena rock tribute to Rich Aurilia. I don’t want to sound like a jerk — I’d love it if my wife wrote a song like that about me, but I also suspect my buddies would be laughing.
Finally, the truly strange. First, psychodots (Adrian Belew’s old backing band) zip through “Gimmetheball,” two minutes of nonsense, frankly. Somebody might like it, but I don’t think I’d want to hang out with them. Then there’s Peter Frampton’s version of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” recorded live at a post-game concert. If you remember “Do You Feel Like We Do,” you can guess what he does with the
seventh-inning classic. Yes, talkbox.
Several of the bands will be appearing after Reds games this summer at The Taco Bell Late Night Concert Series on the Bud True Music Stage.
Verdict: These songs aren’t going to bump Wilco, Guided By Voices, or Rilo Kiley from my playlist anytime soon, but I’m not going to delete them from my iPod, either. If I lived close enough to go to games at GABP, I’d probably put the disc in on the drive down to the park.