Tommy Keene – Excitement at Your Feet (review)

Tommy Keene – Excitement at Your Feet – The Tommy Keene Covers Album (Second Motion) review

If you’re a fan of Tommy Keene, you’re probably also an avid music lover.  Which means you’ll have lots of fun tracing the roots of his first-ever covers album

Tommy Keene is not a household name.  In a fair and just world, his brand of radio-ready rockin’ pop should be part of the classic rock lexicon, getting spins between stalwarts like Bad Company and Foreigner…or at least R.E.M. and U2.  Alas, life isn’t fair, and Keene’s career never reached the ear of the general public.  But, he still has a loyal fanbase, and he plays right to them for his first-ever all-covers album, Excitement at Your Feet

The record mixes tracks from highly-regarded cult classics alongside lesser-known material by bigger bands.  The results are eclectic, far-reaching, and definitely a lot of fun.

You may recognize the disc’s title, taken from a line in “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from the Who, one of Keene’s earliest influences.  But, you’re less likely to know “Much Too Much,” a little-known nugget off the band’s debut, The Who Sings My Generation.  Same goes for the Rolling Stones – he chooses “Ride on Baby,” originally buried on side two of the US-only Flowers album – another forgotten track.

Of the cult material, Keene grabs the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Have You Seen My Baby” from their masterpiece Teenage Head, Television’s “Guiding Light” from Marquee Moon, and the acoustic “Nighttime” off Big Star’s ill-fated Third/Sister Lovers – all sure to make most vinyl geeks giddy from this less-traversed material.

On several songs Keene actually improves on the originals by giving them some much-needed muscle, especially Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Puppet,” which had watery production on their version, and Roxy Music’s “Out of the Blue,” that originally had some goofy phasing effect throughout.  Keene also pays homage to his collaborating friend, Rob Pollard, by tackling Guided By Voices’ “Choking Tara,” fleshing out the lo fi number into a jangly piece of ear candy.

A couple of the biggest surprises here are the Bee Gees’ “I Laugh in Your Face,” which originally appeared on their underrated psychedelic opus Odessa, and features some great Keene harmonies, and a rather straight reading of Donovan’s first hit, “Catch the Wind.”

This is not Keene’s first foray into covers.  In fact, he’s made it a semi-regular thing to tackle other people’s music through the years.  Still readily available is his searing take on Lou Reed’s “Kill Your Sons” and a high-octane revamping of “Our Car Club” from the Beach Boys.  Harder to track down would be his submission to a Hollies’ tribute album, “Carrie Ann,” or another Who cover, “Tattoo.”

Excitement at Your Feet out-distances other, like-minded records on the track listing alone. Keene applies his patented, jangly guitars and meaty percussion to the entire record, yet still manages to be both reverent and energetic to this hallowed material.  A music junkie’s covers album – created by another music junkie.  –Tony Peters