Fit to Serve, Ruf Records CD 161 358, 1998
Soulful pop debut
The piano-pounding, gravel-voiced blues-rocker A.J. Croce doesnt sound
much like his old man, the late Jim Croce. And while his father often waxed
philosophical about saving time in a bottle, A.J. sounds like he has a much
more potently inebriating beverage sizzling in his cup.
Croce serves notice with this, his third release, that he intends to leave
nothing bottled-up on what can best be described as a rollicking roadhouse
musical review. Whereas the elder Croce appealed to fans of Elton John,
A.J.s sounds will certainly be welcomed by a different breed of music
lover altogether, such as followers of the New Orleans great, Dr. John.
The albums second song, "I Dont Mind," gets this party
started with a rump-shaking, horn-honking groove that spotlights Croces
limber and rolling piano fingers. This is followed by "Lovers
Serenade," a lovers lament worthy of something straight out of the
old Otis Redding school of soul ballads.
Even though each of these 13 songs on "Fit to Serve" sound like
compositions that could have easily been written inside the doors of the Stax
recording studio, back in the 60s soul heyday, all but one in the bunch
were written by Croce himself. This proves that when it comes to the great old
stuff, Croce can both write em, and play em.
You can call this retro if you like, but honestly, what isnt retro these
days? No matter what you call it, though, you have to admit that its one
consistently entertaining and soulful release; one that just may make you feel
like its Mardi Gras every day of the year. Dan MacIntosh