BOYSTOWN is a band that started out in northern NJ back in the mid 80’s. The band play a Jersey-flavored brand of AOR made popular by the likes of BON JOVI and to a lesser extent Bruce Springsteen (in his more commercial period). There are also some influences from vintage era BRYAN ADAMS and the less known and under-rated Dann Huff-led GIANT thrown in for good measure.
The fact that this album was originally released back in 1989 (on AIR Records in the UK)\ yet it somehow flew under my radar, made me realize that maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought about the Jersey scene. Thankfully, the band has reissued the album in 2005 for all to hear.
The album starts off with “Something in the Way You Touch” and instantly reminds me of that GIANT influence I mentioned, only with a bit more keyboards. Singer David Polemeni has a rich, full voice that is perfectly suited for this type of music. The song, (much like all the tracks on the album) has a great, catchy chorus complemented by the sounds of keyboard player Bobby Guy. The track is a great way to open the album.
Up next is “House of Glass” which is a somewhat mid-paced affair, again with a killer chorus and huge keys. The track is pure class all the way and a definite highlight.
Now, when I first listened to this CD and got to the third track “Get Up,” I started to think to myself “maybe the reason I never heard of this band is because they only had two good songs and the rest of the material is like this.” Meaning that the song is very “rock and roll” sounding and that the lyrics are somewhat “corny”! It’s not a terrible song by any stretch of the imagination but when compared to the first two tracks it pales in comparison.
Thankfully, the above thought was totally unfounded as the next two songs “I Need Shelter” and “Boy Inside a Man” bring the proceedings back up to speed with more catchy choruses and all around smooth performance. “Shelter” has a slight Bon Jovi feel in the beginning… think “99 in the Shade” from the “New Jersey” album. “Boy” has a Bryan Adams feel complete with requisite “Yeah” yells (think the opening line of “Summer of ‘69”).
By this time, I started to think to myself “How could this band not have been HUGE ?!!”
“Oil & Water” which is about a relationship on the rocks, has a moody feel and a nice melodic solo by guitarist Joe Teto, while the following song “Sure Thing,” has much of the same feel tempo-wise. Both songs could have been big radio hits back in the day. By the way, did I mention that by the looks of the old promo picture on the band website that these guys had the “image” to compete with the likes of the Bon Jovi’s and Bryan Adams’ of the MTV world too?!
The track “Stranger in My Bed” is a bit repetitive in the chorus department and I would say it is just OK at best. Again, it’s not a terrible song, it’s just very average. Along with the aforementioned “Get Up,” I feel these tracks are the fillers of the album.
The acoustic flavored “Way of the World” was apparently released in Britain as a single back in 1989. The track has a very poppy chorus with melodic backing vocals and I can see why it was chosen as a single. I could definitely see the song making its way up the US radio charts right about 1989 had it been released here.
The album ends with the title track “Angels With Dirty Faces.” The song is just more of what you would come to expect from this record by this point… a great chorus with great vocals and classy playing.
This reissue features what I assume is a bonus from the original release, a live track titled “Throw Your Hands Up.” The sound has a bootleg feel but the quality of the song shines through with Polemeni sounding eerily like Jon Bon Jovi! Considering this song wasn’t featured on the album in studio form it makes me wonder if the band has any more tracks lying around from those glory days. According to their website, there is new material coming in 2006 and I certainly look forward to it.
If you’re from the Jersey area and were into the rock scene back in the 80’s or simply just like high quality AOR with a Jersey flavor you need to check out this release. Apart from the two average tracks (the only reason it didn’t get 5 stars!) it doesn’t get much better than this.
Great songs, flawless playing and don’t forget the “look”. Is there anything else you really need? Again, I ask myself “HOW COME THIS BAND WASN’T HUGE?”
- David Polemeni - Lead Vocals, Guitar
- John Teto - Lead Guitar, Vocals
- Joey Sykes - Bass, Vocals
- Bobby Guy - Keyboards, Vocals
- Nelson Williams - Drums
- Something in the Way You Touch
- House of Glass
- Get Up
- I Need Shelter
- Boy Inside A Man
- Oil & Water
- Sure Thing
- Stranger in My Bed
- Way of the World
- Angels with Dirty Faces
- Throw Your Hands Up (live)