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John M. Borack 

 Bruce Moody - Forever Fresh! (Counterfeit Records) 

Of the 23 ultra-hooky slabs of vintage power pop on Bruce Moody's Forever Fresh! compilation (which spans the years 1979-1986), only four were released prior to 2015; that's when Canadian label Meanbean Records began doling out four tracks at a time on a series of three vinyl EPs. (The best thing here, the delightful "This Is It," was also released on a Texas power pop comp some years back.) While a good portion of these songs have sat gathering dust for many years, that's certainly not indicative of their quality: the choruses all stick, the guitars chime fervently, and Moody's boyish lead vocals are the stuff power pop dreams are made of. Other faves include "The Closer I Get," "At the Rock Club," the hopelessly addictive "You Do," and the moody (pardon the pun), Let's Active-like "I Feel Strange." Some '80s production flourishes peek out now and again, but it doesn't detract from the pure enjoyment of these tunes.  Grade: A

May 30, 2020

May 30, 2020

Vocalist, songwriter and multiple-instrumentalist Bruce Moody began his professional music career as a teenager in the late sixties. Circus, Walkee Talkee and The Private Numbers are just a brief mention of some of the bands he performed with. His resume further entails a solo career, recording at Norm Petty’s legendary studio in Clovis, New Mexico, and session work with Willie Nelson and Mickey Gilley. 

Bruce retired from music in 1991 to raise a family, but was never forgotten by his devoted legion of fans. So here it is, three decades on, and Forever Fresh!, a collection of  predominately previously unreleased material from 1979 to 1986 is now available. Bruce’s good friend Terry Carolan – who most of you know from bands like True Hearts, Blue Cartoon and Heirs Of Fortune – assisted in the remastering of the project and appears on a handful of songs. 

 Had these tunes been issued at the moment they were produced, there is no doubt they would have volleyed straight to the top of the charts. Bruce’s pitch perfect pipes, matched by plump and pealing guitar chords and clusters of clasping hooks, encompass everything there is to love about classic AM radio. Solid compositional techniques, and the ability to deliver the songs with confidence and conviction also smack of star quality. 

 A high energy expedition from start to finish, Forever Fresh! is the kind of album begging to be listened to at maximum volume when cruising the sights on a warm.and sunny Sunday afternoon with the windows wide open. Be it the aching bounce of This Is It, the slapping groove of Survival or the purebred power popping punch of glistening gems such as Don’t Look Back For Me, One Desire and Simple Love, you’ll find yourself humming along with happiness.  

Etched of rounded rhythms, jarring breaks and levitating harmonies, both You Do and Gotta Move Away echo the early efforts of The Who, the finely textured Rainy Day shifts and swerves with ravishing melodies, and Terminally Hip features a jumpy tenor and concludes to a nice little rocking jam. 

 Due to the period the songs on Forever Fresh!  were conceived, new wave elements – involving tottering keyboards and a sheen of polish – are additionally part of the program. Following the scriptures of The Rubinoos, The Knack and The Romantics, Bruce wedded his passion for sixties pop to a modern edge, leading towards a repertoire of enduring and exciting sounds. Considering the positive response Fresh Forever! has received, perhaps a fire has been lit under Bruce and we can expect more great music from him in the near future. 

A new (old) set of pop-centric tunes from Bruce Moody, one of the 80’s power pop names that's been bouncing around for years and has only recently been investigated.  Back in the early 80's Terry Carolan (True Hearts/Bloue Cartoon/Heirs Of Fortune) would spend some afternoons with fellow Beatles fan and recording kook, Bruce Moody.  They’d make song demos on Bruce’s four-track deck using everything from cassette boxes, guitar cases and silverware to create sounds.  But at the same time, we were both in bands doing recording in real studios.  The duo ended up with a basket full of unreleased recordings that are now finally seeing the light of day.  “forever fresh!” is a "select cuts" album collection of Bruce's power pop tracks from 1979-1986.  It contains 23 songs, all of which have been meticulously digitally remixed and remastered exclusively for this release.  “As Terry and I mastered the tracks for this album, I was overwhelmed by many of the great memories that stirred inside of me while listening to these songs again; many after more than three decades.  I can still clearly remember those wonderful performance moments that were magically captured while the red light was on and the tape was rolling.  Those memories are ‘forever fresh’ in my mind!  A handful of these songs were very challenging to get recorded at all back then; either due to tired voices that just couldn’t capture a great take or trying to beat the clock before our session ended and someone else’s session was scheduled to start.  In order to try to get a cohesive, overall album sound, we used the legendary Abbey Road mixing desk via digital plugin to re-master all of the songs here.  I love the extra punch and warmth the Abbey Road mixing desk adds to all of the tracks!” – Bruce Moody  The result?  Another terrific piece of power pop’s puzzle has rightfully been unearthed!!  GREAT!!

Bruce Moody – Forever Fresh! 
Remember the earnest, freshly-scrubbed powerpop of bands like The Romantics, The Records, The Producers and such?  Each band had its own identity, but what they shared was an emphasis on melody and hooks, and a grounding in the Beatles end of rock, which is to say neither jagged nor grungy.  That’s very much what’s on offer with this collection of jangly numbers recorded between 1976 to 1986.  Are they dated?  Sometimes, yes.  Are they appealing?  You betcha they are.  If you require grit with your powerpop, move along: this is generally cheery stuff with just the right balance of melancholy.

David Bash’s Best Of 2020 Lists 

Top 20 Compilations, Single Artist 
1. Game Theory-Across The Barrier of Sound: Postscript (Omnivore) 
2. The Merrymakers-The Best Of The Merrymakers (Sony Japan) 
3. Pugwash-Popularity Pending: 20 Years of Pugwash…The Greatest Hits Album (Sony Japan) 
4. Ron Dante-Ron Dante’s Fun House (Sunset Blvd.) 
5. Shape of The Rain-Riley Riley Wood & Waggett: Deluxe Edition (Grapefruit) 
6. America-Heritage II: Demos/Alternate Takes 1971-1976 (Omnivore) 
7. The Undertones-West Bank Songs: 1978-1983 A Best Of* (BMG) 
8. The Scruffs-Teenage Tragedies 1974-1979 (Mono-Tone) 
9. The Direct Hits-Lost And Found (Blaamm!) 
10. Culpepper’s Orchard-Mountain Music: The Polydor Recordings 1971-1973 (Esoteric) 
11. The Main Ingredient-Spinning Around: The Singles 1967-1975 (Kent) 
12. The Mirage-You Can’t Be Serious: 1966-1968* (Guerssen) 
13. The Everly Brothers-Down In The Bottom: The Country Rock Sessions 1966-1968 (RPM) 
14. Bruce Moody-Forever Fresh! (Counterfeit Records) 
15. Jason Crest-A Place In The Sun: The Complete Jason Crest (Grapefruit) 
16. Cliff Wade-Look At Me I’ve Fallen Into A Teapot (Morgan Blue Town) 
17. Paul Collins and The Beat-Another World The Best of The Archives (Alive) 
18. Little Ann-Detroit’s Secret Soul (Kent) 
19. Dwayne & Gregg Allman-Allman (Allman Brothers) 
20. Please-Circus Days (Acme)