DC Drive – DC Drive (1992 EMI of Canada)
I saw DC Drive (from Detroit, get it?) open for Harem Scarem back in spring 1992. They were good live: the first single “You Need Love” rocked well enough, and lead singer Joey Bowen did “the worm” across the stage. He was a good frontman for a band like this. Their gimmick was that they mixed “rock and soul” and had a full time sax player. However, there is nothing overly special here, nothing that Little Caesar didn’t do, and perhaps better. I recall in a M.E.A.T Magazine interview that DC Drive boasted that they had more genuine soul than The Black Crowes; I would take issue with that.
Notably, DC Drive was produced by Vini Poncia, probably best known to rock fans as producer of the Kiss disco-era albums*. Poncia has several co-writing credits here as well. It’s a pleasant CD, fairly keyboard-heavy, with a couple good songs, but quite a bit of filler. It’s funky, but in that radio-friendly way that you remember from a couple decades ago.
The lead single “You Need Love” was good; “Streetgirl Named Desire” likewise. I also enjoyed the ballad “Fool In Love” sung by bassist Doug Kahan. I like the shameless pop of “All I Want”. If Bryan Adams recorded it, it would have been a hit. But the biggest problem with this album is how dated it sounds. A “rock and soul” band shouldn’t sound pigeonholed to eras past like this. It sounds like backing music to a 1991 buddy cop comedy. Joey Bowen has the goods when it comes to putting feeling into his singing, and guitarist Michael Romeo has a sweet tone. Unfortunately what the album really lacks is memorable songs.
DC Drive came out of the ashes of a previous Detroit band, Adrenalin. One odd thing about DC Drive: Even though they were from Michigan and were signed to a big label (Capitol), they were only signed to a Canadian record deal. The album wasn’t released in the US for another year, with a different track order, and minus one song (“Get Up and Dance”). The Canadian release enabled the band to at least get a footing in right next door to home, but it wouldn’t help in the long run.
Basically, the only reason I own this CD is because I saw the band live and it’s sort of a souvenir. Plus I found it for under 2 bucks. Otherwise this is pretty limp and bland, despite the sax (which isn’t always audible) and soulful Detroit roots.
For 90’s hard rock completists or anybody who remembers the song “You Need Love”. Otherwise don’t bother.
* Poncia was brought into the Kiss family by drummer Peter Criss. Peter was probably inspired to work with Poncia due to his prior resume with Ringo Starr.