You're Soaking in It
Artist: This Train
Label: Etcetera, 1995 (Out of print but available by the band)
Length: 33:24 minutes/ 11 songs
In case you missed it, here is the sturdy debut album of the band, and now phenomenon, known as This Train. Although referred to as "The Debut Album!," it is actually their label-breakthrough after releasing even shorter indie albums earlier this decade, and the album that preceded their highly-touted 1998 release, Mimes of the Old West on Organic Records. No matter where you place it in the greater This Train canon, You're Soaking in It is an album worthy of a spin.
Unlike many fledgling bands floating around these days trying to find themselves, This Train has a strong identity. They know who they are and play their brash brand of rowdy rock-and-roll like they mean it. Main man Mark Robertson's extensive experience as a musician in bands as far ranging as The Altar Boys, Allies, Brighton, The Stand, Generation, Rich Mullins's Ragamuffin Band and with Rick Elias, plays a large part in his hardy grasp of songwriting and musical chops. But compared to those bands, this beast is truly a horse of a different color. Their brand of old-time rock-a-billy with a distinctively Western American flavor is flavorful enough to brand them with their own niche. It would be incorrect to call this country music in any way, nevertheless the grand payoff is akin to power pop rock with a zesty cowpoke quality and a flair for the Fifties. Expect to hear a gutsy sound that fondly recalls the music of yesteryear, yet brought fully up to post-punk speed and bravado. Fans of bands and artists like the Bare Naked Ladies, Weezer, Hokus Pick, Steve Taylor, Ween, Rick Elias, and even John Mellancamp should sit up and take notice. At its very heart, This Train plays rollickingly fun party music. Even though to date I've never seen them in concert, the sheer fun and energy of this CD makes it easy to imagine having a grand ol' time at their concerts.
The first song gets the party kicking with a cover of Amy Grant's
"Baby Baby," which also clearly shows that This Train doesn't mean for
anyone to take them too seriously. Although not as hysterical as the Swirling
Eddies parody of the same song on Sacred Cows, a comparison between
the two bands can clearly be made here. Mark Robertson sings with a high
pitched tenor, Terry Taylor quality that takes some getting used to, but
once experienced delivers amply. These two bands also draw some comparisons
musically in their shared passion for quirky rock 'n' roll, but of the
two, This Train is more straight-forward and accessible, whereas the Swirling
Eddies veer more to the bizarre and obscure. Regardless, it's easy to see
fans of both bands crossing over to experience the other and finding some
degree of satisfaction. Best of all, both groups have a delightful penchant
for displaying their humorous whimsy in cleverly-worded lyrical bits and
amusing references, like the off-the-cuff one here about Motley Crue's
drummer: "Tommy Lee rules!"
Another excellent example of their priceless sense of humor is "Monstertruck," which has gone on to become a crowd-pleasing concert staple. There are far too many funny lines in that one, but, to avoid reprinting the entire set of lyrics, here is a small sample: