Can rock 'n' roll and humor co-exist? One listen to The Kink's "Lola" or Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" would certainly point to the affirmative. But what about artists whose entire oeuvre is funny? The leading lights of comedy-rock's late '80s heyday like Dread Zeppelin, King Missile or the Dead Milkmen have hardly stood the test of time, although journeyman joker Weird Al Yankovic continues to make records that slay 12-year-old boys. And acoustic duo Tenacious D's send-ups of arena rock succeed thanks to large numbers of college-age males who find songs like "Fuck Her Gently" humorous.
But where can the more discriminating music fan turn when in need of a good laugh? In a word ... Bandway.
What makes Bandway (shredding guitarist Bo Taylor and drummer/vocalist Brooks Carter) succeed where so many yuk-rockers fail is that--along with having the chops to record their blistering faux arena rock backing tracks--they're delivering conceptual musical theater. And the concept is a simple one: What would it be like if two down vest-wearing, beer swilling, 30-something drywall installers decided to write songs based on their day-to-day experiences coupled with their fantasies of "outrageous parties and backstage dreams"? And what if their musical inspiration was Sammy Hagar's hard-rocking early '70s band, Montrose?
Night Rock finds Bandway stretching their musical muscle beyond the 4/4 stomp of their sidesplitting debut, Balls Out. While there's still plenty of the duo's patented "doofus rock"--"King Kong" ("Budweiser tastes different than Miller/ But I never thought so 'til I tried one right after the other") and "Champagne" ("Hello stomach, goodbye brain") are rally cries to keep the party flag flying--the album's high points come during two of its more, um, experimental numbers. "Live," a not-so-subtle reworking of Van Halen's "Jump" ("You've gotta live!/ Reach back and live), and "Millennium," the duo's paean to the glories of the 21st century, indicate that Bandway may well be in this for the long haul. "Sweet, sweet music" indeed.