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Bus Boys - 1980 Minimum Wage Rock N Roll



ARTIST: Bus Boys
ALBUM: Minimum Wage Rock n Roll
LABEL: Arista
SERIAL: AB 4280
YEAR: 1980

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Gus Lounderman - vocals * Victor Johnson - guitars * Kevin O'Neal - bass * Steve Felix - drums * Brian O'Neal - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dr Doctor * 02 Minimum Wage * 03 Did You See Me? * 04 There Goes The Neighborhood * 05 Johnny Soul'd Out * 06 KKK * 07 Anggie * 08 D Day * 09 Tell The Coach * 10 We Stand United


Background
The Bus Boys gained recognition in the early 80's as a black band (with one Hispanic) playing hard rock in a manner usually reserved for white musicians. This led to obvious media scrutiny and attention, which didn't detract from the fact that they were accomplished players themselves, delivering a scorching, scathing debut. They were a throwback to old time rockers like Chuck Berry in many facets, with a (mostly) straight forward rock and roll approach, but were more cynical and tongue in cheek, with songs like 'There Goes The Neighbourhood'. In that regard the band predated Ice-T and tracks like 'KKK Bitch' by a good decade. Formed in the late seventies as teenagers, the Bus Boys were signed by major label Arista, giving black artists some hope in the rock stakes.


The Songs
Coming on like Bachman Turner Overdrive on opener 'Dr Doctor' doesn't hurt initial impressions as the titanic hard rock riffs that characterised such acts is the main focus and drives precedings along. There's a touch of synth to 'Minimum Wage', which treads new wave leanings, but the still topical lyrics concerning life on the bottom are the bare truth, 'I work in the kitchen from eight till ten, go home for a minute and do it again'. A stunning lyrical attack. 'Did You See Me' conjures up thoughts of that atrocity 'Rock Lobster' by The B-52's, thanks to the dreaded new wave keyboards, now in full cry. The riff tone is derived from Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein' dinosaur, very early 70's styled. The focus behind 'There Goes The Neighbourhood' is not what it seems, concerning whites moving into a black area, instead of the other way around. It overshadows a Doobie Brothers 'It Keeps You Running' era mixture of sounds. A vintage 50's rocker 'Johnny Soul'd Out' livens things up, hinting that 'Johnny sold out' his r'n'b roots for rock and roll. The heaviest moment is the tremendous piano/guitar based force of 'KKK' with still relevant lyrics like 'do you still call me a monkey because of my colour'? and a chant of 'nigger', which may have been considered ground breaking at the time. 'Tell The Coach' is superb AOR, with more understated social lyrics, which give the music a satirical feel, not suiting each other, the whole point. 'We Stand United' is the opposite, bass heavy and disco based, but 'Respect' returns to the rock side, despite a persistent keyboard drone, the band standing up for themselves, insisting 'if you don't like rock and roll you can kiss my ass'.


In Summary
Quite the eclectic mix here! Regardless the instances of basic rock leave lasting impressions despite the bands ability to shift from genre to genre at will, and not imposing themselves to one in particular. The Bus Boys returned in 1982 with 'American Worker', and later gained their biggest fame by contributing the theme song to 1982's Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte film '48 Hours', 'The Boys Are Back In Town', even appearing in the movie. It wasn't until 1988's 'Money Don't Make No Man' (Voss Records) that a new album was issued, but by then the lineup was fractured, the band soon splitting. Brian O'Neal has since reformed the band and at last check were still a viable touring outfit. Elsewhere, Victor Johnson went to join LA metallers Sound Barrier and Total Eclipse, and is currently a member of Sammy Hagar's band The Waboritas. The lasting impression of The Bus Boys is a band confronting social fears and hidden agendas, with bracing music to suit. Often overlooked, the album is readily available to order on CD.


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