4 out of 5 Stars!
Los Angeles’s Little Caesar released its debut album back in 1990, and with its hard-rockin’ style, heavily steeped in both Blues and even Soul influences, thanks to the inclusion of classic covers such as Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools” and The Temptations “I Wish It Would Rain,” the band showed great promise and didn’t appear to be just another Guns ‘n’ Roses clone.
Indeed, the band’s “biker” image—complete with overly tattooed arms, dirty boots, tattered jeans, leather, and bandanas—seemed more akin to Circus Of Power than any “hair band” of the era. But when it came to the music itself, the Circus Of Power comparisons were more limited. Whereas the other act had a gruffer, no-frills, garage-band style, Little Caesar possessed a slicker, well-rounded sound with some light keyboard enhancements on several tracks, thanks in part to the guidance of famed producer Bob Rock.
Not to say anything is watered down or wimpy here, since tunes such as “Down ‘n’ Dirty,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll State of Mind,” “Drive It Home,” “Wrong Side of the Tracks,” “Little Queenie,” and “Hold On” have the same boot-stompin’ goodness as the other group. Yet Little Caesar also included a few lighter, less-raging moments on this collection, such as on the ballad “In Your Arms,” along with “Cajun Panther,” “From The Start,” the fantastic “Midtown,” and the aforementioned “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Chain of Fools” (the band’s first single), where the group displayed higher commercial appeal.
But thanks (not!) to the arrival of the Grunge era, it mattered little since any straightforward rock ‘n’ roll band like Little Caesar, no matter how talented, got kicked to the curb until the musical “trend du jour” ran its course. Not even the arrival of accomplished guitarist Earl Slick for the group’s second album could gain Little Caesar any publicity and kick its career into overdrive. Such as shame!
At least the band reunited in the new century and released two additional albums, although it still remains too obscure for my liking.