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PAUL MARK & THE VAN DORENS/METROPOLITAN SWAMP (Radiation Records RDTN 5801)

This album was recorded in Memphis, TN, and the band sounds like something straight out of the back country, but the swamp from which they hail is actually called New York City. The band consists of Paul Mark on guitar and vocals, Joe Costello on drums and percussion, and Alan J. Hager on bass. Ernest Williamson supplements the band on keyboards.

Metropolitan Swamp features 12 original songs, all of which are very well written by Mark. The songwriting is one of the highlights of this release. "With Each Heart I Break (I Really Fix it for Myself)" is a hilarious take on the problem of having so many girlfriends that you canít go anywhere without running into a jilted lover. "Saddest Cab In Town" documents the everyday blues of a cabbie with lines like "Thereís a 10-minute cap on friendships and two doors for slamming arguments closed." In "Who Donít I Owe?" Mark uses lines like "My license plate reads ĎBROKE AGNí cuz man, who donít I.O.?" This is simply great songwriting. On this release Paul Mark stakes his claim on the craft of smart lyric writing. His writing is also surprising consistent throughout the entire disc.

Markís guitar playing, and the skills of his bandmates, is also very good. This band can deliver the slow blues effectively and still manage to rock out when they need to. I highly recommend this disc for lovers of the blues as well as those who just enjoy a well-crafted song. Paul Mark & The Van Dorens are thoroughly entertaining and well worth your attention.

Radiation Records is at 2109 Broadway, Suite 15102, New York, NY 10023. This release is available from Local Music Store Online. (see their link to the left of this review)