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Music Reviews

PAT DINIZIO/SONGS AND SOUNDS (Velvel Records LLC, VEL79706-2)

When this disc arrived I couldn’t get it into the disc player fast enough. I’d been a Smithereens fan for many years and had been going to see them live since they were the opening act for the likes of Squeeze and, believe it or not, UB40. I never felt that the Smithereens got the credit that they deserved and I hoped that maybe Pat would finally achieve some well-deserved recognition for his excellent song writing skills. As the disc began playing I started reading the liner notes. They told of Pat being presented in a different setting, “a different kind of PAT DINIZIO album” they hyped. I listened to “Nobody But Me”, “124 MPH”, and “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” and started to wonder what the hell was so different. These songs could be added to any Smithereens album and nobody would even notice a difference. I threw the disc case across the room and listened to the rest of the album. I’d originally decided not to write a review of this disc because I was disgusted with the liner notes and wondered if the person who wrote them had even listened to the disc at all. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

About a week passed before I even thought about listening to it again. I found it hard to accept that I could be disappointed with a disc from Pat Dinizio, the song writer, vocalist, and guitarist from a band that I like so much. I played the disc again, being careful not to catch a glimpse of the liner notes, and was surprised to find that several of the songs had begun to grow on me. In all fairness only a few songs sound like the Smithereens, and they’re good songs to boot, the problem is that they’re the first songs on the disc. Listening to them while you’re reading something that’s telling you how different this album is makes you feel like you’ve just been taken by a con artist.

The Pat Dinizio Foursome, as they’re called, consists of Pat on vocals and guitar, J.J. Burnel on bass and vocals, Sonny Fortune on sax and flute, and Tony “Thunder” Smith on drums, vocals, and percussion. The foursome really hits their own stride after the fifth track and from that point on this disc really is a different kind of Pat Dinizio album. It’s a jazzier sounding album, due to the sax and flute, but still a Pat Dinizio album nonetheless. Pat’s vocals are in the same range as before, his guitar playing is similar, and most importantly his songwriting is great. He has a way of writing songs that makes them grow on you the more that you hear them, that was always the Smithereens secret weapon, and is definitely at work here as well. The rest of the foursome are all talented musicians and their playing gives you a sense that they all enjoyed recording this disc. I’d recommend “Songs And Sounds” to any Smithereens fans out there but I’d also caution you that you might need to give it a chance to grow on you. Once it does, you’ll enjoy it. And please, whatever you do, don’t read the liner notes during your first listen.