The Complete Columbia Recordings (2 CD)
by Artful Dodger
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Last refresh Aug/11/2018 10:47 PM
Artful Dodger was a band ahead of its time, casting hard-edged hooks into a mid-‘70s pond that wasn’t quite ready to bite on the genre that came to be known as power pop. Had they come along a few years later, things might have been quite different for this outfit hailing from Fairfax, VA, for their three albums for the Columbia label hold up to this day as shining examples of the style. Their first two records, 1975’s Artful Dodger and 1976’s Honor Among Thieves, combine Beatle-esque pop and driving rock in the finest Raspberries tradition (interestingly, Artful Dodger had a big following in Cleveland, the Raspberries’ home town); they feature refreshingly straightforward production from Jack Douglas (Aerosmith) and/or Eddie Leonetti and some really tremendous songwriting especially on tracks like “Wayside” and “Scream.” And 1977’s Babes on Broadway, while showing some signs of a group frustrated with its lack of commercial success, definitely has its moments, particularly on the song “Can’t Stop Pretending.” Unfortunately, without a stylistic pigeonhole to place them in, Columbia was unable to move any copies and dropped them, which explains why Artful Dodger has been so hard to find in the digital era, with CDs of their first two albums commanding huge sums online and the third one never coming out at all. Now, Real Gone Music is shining a long-overdue spotlight on this seminal power pop band with a 2-CD set that includes all three albums plus a couple of single versions, their COMPLETE recordings for the Columbia label, newly remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York. Jeremy Cargill’s notes feature fresh quotes from band members Steve Cooper and Steve Brigida, plus we’ve dug up some rare photos from the Columbia vaults. Power pop fans, prepare to have your minds blown!
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