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Struck by Lightning (Invicta Records)


In the early '90s, bands such as the Hollow Men, the Mahoots, and the Rainmakers (when they weren't playing Denmark) rattled our region with intelligent lyrics and sounds half 1965 and half post-Reagan anxiety. Rockhill — more K-10 limestone road than Rockhill Road or William Rockhill Nelson — proves that the sound never quite went away. The band has bluesy, mid-'60s pop (the Animals, Sir Douglas Quintet) down cold, and with two-minutes-and-change transistor-radio-ready tunes such as "I Want You" from longtime KC guitarist Gary Paredes and "Slip and Fall," from bassist Doug Osburn, they play it straight.

Still, the strength of the CD, which risks blurring together with a zillion other roots albums, comes from moments of complication in the lyrics. "Shelter From the Storm" (She is his springtime in the winter/He is her shelter in the storm), from another veteran KC guitarist, Phil Neal, starts out as a Mellencamp tale of suburban boy and small-town girl but ends with the couple holding onto each other for comfort amid the uncertainties of hearing their grown children laugh at what Dad and Mom don't understand. Neal's "Drumbeat of War," a Phil Ochs anthem-in-waiting, laments the sons and daughters dying in the desert but states bluntly, It's quite a sacrifice they're making for me and you. Two songs, including Osburn's bittersweet "Fool for You," loll in the solace of just curling up on the sofa. Rockhill somehow captures divan rock and roll — the point in the evening when you wonder exactly where the fuck it went.

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