Big Head Todd & The Monsters: All the Love You Need


If it’s not apparent by now, after eight official studio albums and the de rigueur double live set, Big Head Todd and the Monsters are not going to blow anyone away. But on the basis of the new All the Love You Need, they have learned how to avoid the pitfalls of the AOR subgenre in which they reside. In addition, the band emphasizes its strengths here while simultaneously expanding upon them.

This new album is a marked improvement over its 2004 studio predecessor Crimes of Passion. Consider the Bo-Diddley beat of “Cashbox” and how the band handles it; there’s not enough abandon in the playing to elevate this above good rockin’ but the main virtues of the group—restraint and authority—render this cut enlivening. Likewise  “Beautiful Rain,” which turns insistent when it might well plod to match its borderline saccharine lyrics.  On “Her Own Kinda Woman,” BHTM aren’t quite derivative of modern day Clapton and/or Exile on Main Street Stones precisely because the band itself displays enough bluesy texture and incorporates sufficient drive from the horns to complement the core quartet.  Acoustic textures in greater abundance than usual offer sharp relief to the burly electric rhythm guitar buttressed by this lithe rhythm section. Generally of a piece with the likes of “Ever Since You Pulled Me Under”– where bass and drums are punchy and guitar solos and fills are atmospheric — this title song turns clichés into credible truisms.

All the Love You Need
is eminently playable and more than enough to make you want to see Big Head Todd and The Monsters. Don’t let the use of “Blue Sky” in the presidential campaign put you off: it works better as a paean to offspring than a slogan and besides, its chunky rock progression contrasts perfectly with the steel-guitar likes of “Under a Silvery Moon.” Like most of the rest of this cd, it works well even if it doesn’t truly inspire.

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