30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
, May 12, 2004
This review is from: Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (Audio CD)
The story goes that after singing "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" for the group Steam, Garrett Scott wanted very little to do with the group. "Musical differences" usually gets the nod in these situations but personality conflicts may have played a part. The back cover of their only album has a small picture of Scott with his arms folded looking a bit um . . . steamed. You do the math.
In some sort of arrangement that only the 70's could produce, Scott stuck around long enough to co-write all 10 songs on the album. The new story that I submit is that Scott missed out on singing some great tunes. It was his loss because he wasn't needed anyway. Four unknown singers add the required blue-eyed-soul readings of this collection of great tunes. Sitting somewhere between the Grassroots, Grand Funk (!), and the Left Banke (all good!), Steam certainly performed well under the pressure.
One thing they tried was creating a theme album based on the "Na Na, Hey Hey" refrain. This sounds silly on paper but three songs -- including the hit that leads off the set -- utilize the refrain to great effect. A casual listener may think there is simple duplication scattered throughout the album but it appears to be part of a greater attempt to tie the diverse songs together. "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" is bubblegum but "I've Gotta Make You Love Me" is reminiscent of The Parliament's "Testify" and "I've Cried A Million Tears" is an affectionate ode to The Temptations. "Love & Affection" would have made a great single as well. The song structures in all the songs are fairly complex for pop but well worth the effort I suggest you put into it. This is a pop collection that demands deeper scrutiny.
Now the pressure is on for me to decide if Steam is bubblegum or not. "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" is classic gum simply because so many people have said it is. Steam is a blue-eyed-soul review that traveled the same road as Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Amazing Rhythm Aces, and so many others. And although Steam ended up having the most well-known and used song of all these like-minded groups, they were forced off the road before they had a chance to gather up more Steam. Maybe it was unfair to label them bubblegum. In hindsight it certainly seems that way.
This is where I come in and profess a sense of loss that Steam ran out of itself after one great album. Of course, I'm the guy who likes the "real" Ohio Express, so why listen to me? If you love great 70s pop, you'll work up a bit of this group and hit the Amazon.com site and buy this great CD. Otherwise, hit the showers.
(The extras on the CD nearly complete the Steam catalog. Only "What I'm Saying Is True" the b-side to "I'm The One Who Loves You" is missing.)
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