Richard Barone and James Mastro were, as the label slapped on this LP proudly proclaims, "half of The Bongos." Hoboken's The Bongos were quite the deal in college radio circles in 1983, several singles and a couple EPs into their career. I've been piecing together the chronology of those heady days the best I can with the usual internet resources, and as far as I can tell, this LP - which seems to be half James songs and half Richard songs - was released around the same time as the Bongo's second EP, but well before their debut major-label LP was released in 1985. What I don't know is how the Barone/Mastro career intersected with or overlapped that of the Bongos. Did they tour as a duo? Were the band jealous that they put out this LP while they were riding high on a wave of college radio love, but before they'd released a full length album? There may well be a Trouser Press article or Big Takeover interview out there that could shed light on the subject, but I haven't found it yet.
But does it matter? The important thing is these two dudes from Hoboken put together a fine collection of songs that you've probably never heard, so why not check it out? Richard Barone and James Mastro are both still active in the music world; you can catch Richard playing around New York fairly regularly, it seems, and James runs The Guitar Bar, a guitar shop in good old Hoboken. Check 'em out, and tell 'em I sent you! (They'll be totally confused.)
"One half the manpower, but not one half the talent* . . . Excellent collection of songs, with nice instrumentation. These two are pop masterminds. All cuts! *this is very lamely worded, but you get the idea, right?"
"Their version of 'Dizzy' makes my head spin!"
"Good stuff. Not at all 'Screwed,' like the title would have us believe."
"Question of the week . . ."
"This is really nice . . . moody + . . ."
"You got it MG. You know me too well."
"It's entertaining, but it's not the Bongos! The Barone side is much better than Mastro's side, but neither is what I'd call riveting." [Riveting? Nuts and Bolts? Ha!]
"I would . . ."
This week's Review Revue spotlights the EP Help Save the Youth of America (Live and Dubious) by Billy Bragg. See what KCMU DJs thought back in the day.