Dubbing themselves “New Jersey’s First Supergroup,” The Satisfactors are on the rock and roll move to give you what you need. The band is quick to the point and doesn’t waste time blanketing the listener with cleverly hidden messages or silly vulnerability issues about puppy love. They play bare-bones rock along the lines of Bachman, Turner, Overdrive, The Godfathers and Georgia Satellites. Leather jackets, pussy and tube-rattling electrics battle it out on the band’s eponymous offering, The Satisfactors.
The Satisfactors are a seasoned grouping with star power punch. Featuring Bruce Ferguson from The Easy Outs, Gar Francis of the famed Doughboys, Kurt Reil from The Grip Weeds and Kenny Aaronson from the New York Dolls, Joan Jett, Bill Idol and Bob Dylan, this is a band that actually lives up to its name.
When listening to The Satisfactors, one can’t help but get pulled into the golden past of our rock and roll glory. This is the sound that reminds us about the rough bands that started a musical revolution at places such as Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s, Great Gildersleeves and so many other gritty New York rooms.
The Satisfactors is an interesting journey through highly recognizable timelines and sounds turned into every day, household remembrance. Foggy recollections of famous late night revelries and bombastic good times become focused as I spin this odd little disc of rebellious attitude.
Kicking off with the fast-paced, scuttling rhythms of Aaronson and drummer (ahem) Curtis Roy, “She Got Charm” sounds the tsunami walls of Phil Spector “whoa whoas” and high-speed, guitar grit à la mode. When Ferguson comes in for the vocal, they’re already deep into their switchblade-quick theme of alluring female charm. Ferguson comes off as the real deal, fronting with dues paid attitude and blowing over the top of this 2:45 of ragged rock romance like a Pagan on the parkway.
“I Love Girls” says it all. There’s nothing these guys don’t love about the ladies. Plain and simple, if you’re a female, and I mean just about any female, they’re going to get right up close to you. Ominous, old school spy-themed vamps clang against Francis’ biting guitar embellishments as bass and drum work rumbles under Ferguson’s gushing confessional greed of the female form. This is muscular, diesel-fueled rock at its finest. Handsome Dick himself would be proud of this hot-rodded sound. Ferguson levels images of mirrored sunglasses and Marlboro Reds as he kicks back against the wall and begins the prowl. Big and small, black or white, day or night, Bruce tells you what he likes and what he wants to do. Sound dirty? Oh, it probably is. Gar Francis sounds off in the bridge for a pentatonic drag strip smoke out of hairpin pull offs, skid marked bends and raw, revving tumbles of riffage that would make Elliot Easton sit up and take notice.
“You’re So Crazy” pumps and grinds with the Pittsburgh moxie of Norman Nardini and the Tigers. Francis duck walks Chuck Berry snarl as the backing harmonies bring back memories of bands such as KISS and Meatloaf. There’s no listing of the piano killer on this disc, but it’s an integral Jerry Lee Lewis highlight and it hammers a gritty, barroom-fueled feel into an already insane presentation.
“Sweet Sunshine” blasts into the speakers like a 1975 comet straight from the BTO universe. Featuring liquored up lyrics of passion-line love, Ferguson and crew chug it out to beat the proverbial band. Once again, single-note piano drills up the center as Ferguson does his best Randy Bachman phrasing. Innuendos abound in this ode to succulent female adoration.
The hyped-up track “Johnny Commando” is up next and taps the New York punk vein like nobody’s business. This is a one-of-a-kind ode to Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone and it is a class act. Well-constructed pop punk filled with shards of jagged rhythm brilliance makes “Johnny Commando” the battle cry of The Satisfactors. Radio should have a field day with this mover and shaker. Call and response vocals smothered in echo and reverb harkens us back to innocent days of no-frills production. A raucous time where the music mattered more than the producer’s pill habit or car collection.
“Take Your Troubles Away” shifts The Distracters down into mid-tempo ballad zone. At first I was like, “Oh brother, here we go,” but once I was into the intro, I was intrigued. This is a very well-written song that retains the compositional power to keep it afloat. Featuring a wonderland of Cheap Trick and Ozzy Osbourne vibrations, “Take Your Troubles Away” tumbles into a complex rabbit hole of Byrds-inspired guitar hooks, mega chugging bar chords and pulsing bass and drum work. Ferguson pulls off a tricky genre, embracing his theme and releasing just enough confessional ambiance on his path to agreeable believability. The bridge features some crafty modulation that downshifts the band into a wide curve before launching the Francis jet-fueled fretwork into the straightaway.
Another track that hit me right away is the tough-as-nails drive of “Gimme My Rock N’ Roll.” The song is a salute to the days of innocence, the days when giants shook the stages of New York City and the world beyond. Drums slam their “Mystery Achievement” downbeats as Francis fires off sharp, down stroke bar chord explosions. Ferguson sends out the salute to the Ramones, Richard Hell, Handsome Dick and more. He exclaims, “Gimme rock and roll, hit me hard, hit me low,” between vocal admonishments of, “Oh yeah, all right!” If you’re into the real vibe preaching of 1970s punk rock salvation, “Gimme My Rock N’ Roll” is the sleek, black Cadillac cruise into everything old school cool. As Bruce himself says, “Enough said.”
“My Baby Got It” is a grungy, country-tinged rocker that extols the girl that has “the world by the balls.” Feline independence struts with the sure-footed knowledge of someone that knows what she wants and how to get it on this Seeds/Kinks-inspired number. Simple chanted background vocals sit pretty as Francis grinds truck stop slide wails throughout the bridges. Bass and drum work of Aaronson and Roy center this honky tonk blues breaker as Ferguson pounds his message into our collective head.
The final cut is “Had It With You” and it breaks out of the barn to chug down the track of everything Tom Petty used to be. Americana acoustics bash against Keith Richards electrics in this palpitating ode to being sick of that significant other. Dynamic use of guitars makes this simple song explode with unique and vibrant life. I especially love the background vocals that remind me of Dave Edmunds’ trebly chants on “I Hear You Knocking.”
I’ve had the opportunity to cover all of The Satisfactors in different groups throughout the years, and I applaud the styles that they continue to keep alive. Tradition salutes the styles of yesterday while retaining modern day applications in a way that promotes the return of sorely-missed fun instead of scads of music scene posers lined up in brooding “too cool for school” fashion.
So dump those dopey sweater vests and fedoras, throw on that old biker leather and get your ass out to a Satisfactors show as soon as you can. I know you’ll be quite “satisfied” by what you’ll see and hear.
For more information on The Satisfactors and their dirty gem The Satisfactors, head over to their home base at bongoboyrecords.com.