Ship Of Fools (Summer Weekends And No More Blues)
Produced and directed by Andrew Loog Oldham the way Bob Crewe would produce and direct the singer Oliver, the second album from the Werewolves on RCA doesn't tell as cohesive a story as Lou Reed's 1972 conceptual "film for the ear" Berlin album did. Ship of Fools contains a set design by Ernie Thormahlen and the redoubtable photographer supreme Mick Rock, but let's go beyond the wonderful imagery of the musicians and palm trees and beach blanket bingo kids on the wall: how does the original producer for the Rolling Stones fare with another five-piece rock group, this one of cute young American guys, not rowdy Englishmen? The Werewolves' Ship of Fools (Summer Weekends and No More Blues) is not a bad rock & roll recording, but at the end of the day, it is about as unremarkable as RCA's 1983 release of Maurice Raymond's the Blushing Bride's Unveiled LP. The titles are clever, and the four principals, vocalist Brian Papageorge, and guitarists/vocalists Kirk Brewster, Buckner Ballard (Brewster and Ballard trade off on the bass guitar as well), and guitarist Seab Meador come up with a little more creativity on record than the Rolling Stones' clone band the Blushing Brides. With clever song titles like "Catch My Drift" and what is no doubt a tribute to Neil Sedaka, "Waking Up Is Hard to Do," they display a bit of the charm promised by the inviting cover photo of fun in the palms. But the highlights, like "Face on Wrong," the catchiest and best song on the disc, or the title instrumental track with island flavors, Ship of Fools, are offset by simple treks like "No More Blues," which has drive but little spark. Andrew Loog Oldham was an integral part of the launch of the Rolling Stones into history and one of Mick and Keith's outtakes would have been an appropriate (and welcome) find, but the one cover tune here, Ralph Mooney and Charles Seal's "Crazy Arms," is hardly in that league, and just passes by your consciousness with little bite. The Werewolves clean-cut image -- looking like preppy Beach Boys -- would have helped New Jersey band Looking Glass, but for all the Stones-style hype that surrounded them, they hardly brought the shock of the New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, or the original Rolling Stones to the table. That, and a distinct lack of hit material, is what musically stopped the Werewolves. Del Shannon's production of '60s star Brian Hyland was more cohesive, and was rewarded with chart action for accomplishing its goal. The promise of the Werewolves remained unfulfilled, though there was that Stones buzz in the clubs when they strolled into town.