Good Old-Fashioned Rockin' Fun
Henry R. Kujawa | "The Forbidden Zone" (Camden, NJ) | 08/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From Camden, NJ comes The Ben Vaughn Combo, a quartet dedicated to taking old-but-still-valid sounds & styles and creating new music that's alternately fun, rockin', moody, and a little humorous. BEAUTIFUL THING is Ben's 3rd album (after THE PREHISTORIC..., originally unreleased, and THE MANY MOODS OF..., only issued on vinyl and currently out-of-print), and it's the first where Ben's trademark "sound" really comes together. It's full of the kind of "classics" that would have fit perfectly on early-60's radio, but which you usually have to see him play live to hear. The best songs here can also be found on MOOD SWINGS, but this entire album is worth hearing as far as I'm concerned. (I was under the impression, though, that it had only been put out on vinyl! Hmm...)
"Jerry Lewis In France" reflects Vaughn's being better-known overseas than here; a fate of too many American artists. "Clothes Don't Make The Man" is a plea to women not to judge men superficially; "Beautiful Thing" is simply a love song (and I know the girl he's singing about, too!). The same subject is also visited in "She's A Real Scream", one of Ben's most popular live songs from what I've seen at his all-too-rare Philly shows. This was done earlier by DAS YAHOOS, with singer Mick Cancer (THE SIC KIDZ, PINK SLIP DADDY) but I think Ben's version is way better.
"Big House With A Yard" is one I had to hear over and over before I suddenly realized exactly what he was singing about-- there's clever use of words for you! "A Good Woman Is Hard To Find" is a long, slow, spooky ramble that surprisingly touches on a wide variety of subjects (move over, Bob Dylan!). "Desert Boots" is a fast, fun guitar instro that also turned up in the RAMBLER '65 videotape. "The Apology Line" is a slow, soulful finale about call-in radio where Ben gets to speak as well as sing.
THE BEN VAUGHN COMBO were only together for a few albums, but their legacy goes on. Drummer Lonesome Bob has recorded 2 amazing country albums, while accordionist Gus Cordovox still plays with Ben when Vaughn comes to Philly. Aldo Jones sadly passed away a few years ago; hard to believe, really. Ben, now in L.A., continues writing music for TV shows & movies, and writes, records & tours when HE feels like it. Sometimes "stories" do have happy endings!"