Singer/songwriter/guitarist Alec Berlin has a long list of educational qualifications, as well as experience playing jazz and in musicals such as ?The Lion King? and ?Rent?. He is also a teacher at NYU and the music director for The ATrain Plays, a 24-hour musical theater project set on New York City subway's A Train. In conjunction with all of this, Alec has decided the time is right for him to write, produce, and arrange a rock album.
My strongest conclusion about ?Beauty, grazing at the trough? is that one day it might prompt its own board game, similar to ?Snakes and Ladders?, allowing players to connect the1970s influences until they make it to the top and win free tickets to a Styx reunion tour.
At moments Berlin does a pretty good job at recapturing the style of lyrics that made ?Escape (The Pina Colada Song)? such a memorable hit, and his stab at the E-Street band brass sound proves that collaboration with other arrangers has it benefits, but channeling Dr Hook and Boz Scaggs is just plain wrong. Berlin has all the skills but no taste. He is the perfect teacher and the worst type of composer, although I?m sure the Elvis Costello homage will earn him at least a arts grant ? or a Grammy.
My musical awareness awoke in the ?70s so there are elements here that make me want to eat coconut cake, watch ?Happy Days?, and believe my older brother?s record collection is cool. But unfortunately there?s also a strong whiff of the amateur theatre rehearsals that I was dragged along to because no baby sitter could be found. I?m confident that when our Alec has got this rock stuff out of his system he?ll get down to the serious business of becoming the next Andrew Lloyd Webber. 1/10 -- Sean Rabin (24 April, 2007)