The Allen Oldies Band

This will be the only time this statement will be made by someone not high on weed: The Allen Oldies Band is a lot like the Grateful Dead. That is, it's well-nigh impossible to capture the true sound and spirit of one of their gigs on CD, whether recorded in studio or on stage. At an AOB show, the Hard Day's Night-style nuttery, audience dancers (and Dancing Sisters!) and tux-clad Allen Hill's psych-ward-fueled on-stage raps about the joy of spreadable protein are as much a part of the night as the band's pre-FM-era covers of "Tossin' and Turnin'," "Secret Agent Man" and "Wooly Bully." Plus, the near-albino carrot top's got dance moves that make Napoleon Dynamite look like Deney Terrio.

This baker's dozen set cut live in the studio of Jersey City's WFMU-FM was itself a warts-and-all improvised gig -- Houston's High Priest of the Oldies and band had literally slept on the station's floor the night before. But the loose feel (down to Hill's, um, admittedly extra-gravelly morning-after voice) and exhortations from band and audience make for a festive party. "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)," "Dizzy," "Sugar Shack," "Treat Her Right" and "She's About a Mover" won't make you forget the originals even for a moment, but the band gets extra points for more obscure songs by the Standells and the Kingsmen. Mysteriously MIA: live staples "Sweet Pea" and "Peanut Butter."

Bottom line: This CD is for those who've ever twisted at an AOB show, or just loved the innocent spirit of the oldies era, when any song over three minutes was pushing boundaries. Sure, it's a loose and messy affair, but if you get in the spirit of things, this wild, beer-soaked party with Hill and his crack band more than lives up to its title.


The Allen Oldies Band

Freedom Records

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